After a release akin to slowly revealing a child's Christmas gifts over the course of the year, culminating the experiment on Thanksgiving and then making him or her wait until Dec. 25 to open them, Madden 15, well, it'll be released in a week.
The slow build release—especially after the dissolution of the NCAA Football franchise—feels more agonizing than ever. EA Sports made the surprising decision to not release a demo for 2014, and the lack of a college football game to tide fans over created a pretty significant gap in sports gaming releases. Let's put it this way: I'm in the year 2019 in my MLB The Show Road to the Show mode.
Sometimes, I feel like it'd almost be better to go through life without knowing the release date. Just, like, one day EA Sports is satisfied with the product and boom—Beyonce'd. That would obviously make no business sense. The slow build is in place precisely for these moments, where excitement gets to the point we'll begrudgingly flock to our local brick-and-mortar stores at midnight for a release-day copy.
And, yes, that's with the option of release-date shipping from Amazon. Being a sports-gaming degenerate is hard, painstaking work, folks. With that in mind, let's take some time to talk about the actual thing most of us will be playing next Tuesday.
Specifically, I wanted to talk about Connected Franchise mode. It'll be back for its third iteration in Madden 15 and by all accounts should remain among the deepest franchise-style modes on the planet. Here's a look at some of the updates for the mode and advice on how to make the most of your experience.
Don't Be Cheesy; Give Yourself a Challenge
We covered this a bit already. Choosing a pre-made Super Bowl contender—unless you are a fan of that franchise—is one of the easiest ways to confirm we can't be friends. In fact, it's one of the easiest ways to confirm you should not be friends with anyone. I'm not above this being put to law as a summary offense, either.
The point of modes like Connected Franchise is building your own legacy. It's not so you can take advantage of Pete Carroll and John Schneider's ready-built superteam and then look for ways to game a decade-long dynasty out of the system. Hating on someone for using their favorite team is unfair. Hating on someone for taking the easy way out should be applauded—not just in Madden but in everyday life.
In the article one may click on two paragraphs above, I suggest Washington, Tampa Bay and Cleveland as the best rebuilding projects for Connected Franchise. The Browns and Washington have two high-potential young quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet—deadly video game weapons. The Bucs have nearly everything except a competent quarterback.
Other rebuilding possibilities: Jacksonville, Buffalo and St. Louis. Basically, every team expected to be bad at football this year.
Picking one of these teams may go against some ingrained moral code, or one of them may already be your favorite team. Choosing the latter seems like an easy move. It also becomes boring. I'd honestly suggest any of these rebuilding franchises over your playoff-contending favorite, simply because the detachment is less.
Plus, then you can...
Relocate, Rename, Create Total Anarchy
Billed as a huge addition to Madden 25, the ability to relocate a franchise turned out to be a bummer. Not only were options limited in terms of jersey selection, team names and the like, but AI-controlled teams were on the move way too much. By Year 10 of your Connected Franchise, you might see three teams in the same division that have already packed their bags.
Envisioning a dystopian United States where a Leftovers-esque unexplainable tragedy forced teams to move seems fun in theory. Realizing after a while it feels like you're playing one of those cheap mobile games without an NFL license is not.
NFL teams do not relocate often. It's wildly expensive, it creates a generational ugliness between the owner and his previous city and local governments hand sports franchises blank checks, tax breaks and the like so they stick around. Relocation is much more of a mess than it's worth in real life.
Luckily, the folks in charge of Madden 15 saw the need for change and acted accordingly. The engineers altered the algorithm to make CPU relocations rare—if they happen at all. When going into Connected Franchise mode, users may choose the frequency in which teams they do not control leave. If you enjoyed last year's craziness, ratchet up the frequency. If you want to ensure the league stays mostly intact, the option is available.
As for you? Relocate the living hell out of a team you care little about.
In addition to making CPU relocations rare, Madden 15 has made relocating for the user much more intriguing. The bland, three-uniform selection process has been replaced with unique options for each city. The EA Sports blog even noted that some fan selections from their uniform design contest have been incorporated.
Goodbye, Jacksonville Jaguars. Hello, North Dakota...Somethings!
Target the Following Players
Johnny Manziel (QB, Cleveland Browns)
Because JFF. Unless the team you decide to use already has a better quarterback in place (e.g., Robert Griffin III), make Jonathan Foosball the video game superstar he deserves to be.
Extracting him from the Browns should also be easiest during his rookie season. He enters 2014 with a 77 overall rating, two points lower than Brian Hoyer. While his potential will make him a difficult trade target, it's possible he could be had for a first-round pick in the preseason depending on how the trade engine works.
Plus, like, I really hope the Swans is a team name option.
Jeff Demps (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Because speed and athleticism kills in video games. It's been that way since the Tecmo Bowl days. And no matter the advancements in physics engines and overall realism, the finesse game will always win out in video games.
Thus, players like Jeff Demps become quietly invaluable. The former track star earned a 98 speed rating, a 98 acceleration and 95 agility. He is also a 63 overall—making him a totally fungible commodity to the game's trade engine. At the very least, he's worth a seventh-round pick as a return man.
Some Player You Don't Like From Your Favorite Team
Because then you may cut him. For me, this player is DeAngelo Hall. He'd probably live on my video game roster for a couple of years because, you know, speed and stuff. But once he outlived his usefulness and the 97 speed rating became a 92, he'd finally be getting payback for all of those missed coverages last season.
Tim Tebow (QB, Free Agent)
Because how else are you going to market yourself in North Dakota? Having Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow on the same team would break the Internet. Which would be sad because I'd be out of a job. But it'd also be awesome because, holy hell—Tebow and Manziel on the same football team.
Make Hot Dogs Cost $11 Million
Because hot dogs are disgusting. (Note: I do not know if $11 million is a pricing option. If it is not, please override the game code so that it is. Thank you.)
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.