Madden 15 features a few new modes, including the Gauntlet and Skills Trainer. There are even fresh wrinkles to the Connected Franchise mode, but the real work in this year's game was put in to improve the gameplay.
Without question, Madden 15's gameplay is the best the series has ever seen.
That may be a bold statement, but here are the facts to back up that claim.
There is Balance Between Offense and Defense
For years, Madden has been all about offense. Secondaries and linebackers suffered from unrealistically low football IQs, and it made exploiting helpless pass defenses easy.
It was clear this was an area of opportunity in the game, and EA Sports tackled the issue and all but slayed the problem.
The improvements can really be seen in zone coverage. Before, you'd beg for your safety or nickel cornerbacks to turn around to make a play on the ball, but they'd simply allow it to hit them in the back.
This year, the players play as if they're aware they are on the football field.
Also, the amount of dropped would-be interceptions has decreased. Unless you tweak the sliders, defensive players will make you pay for errant passes more than ever before.
You could make the argument that even more picks could happen, but I'm happy with the current frequency. It allows for a fun but realistic gaming experience.
More Love For the Passing Game
In real life, if a pass is too high for a receiver, he'll usually make an effort to reach or jump for the ball. That never used to happen in Madden, but it does now.
A pass that goes sailing by will at least elicit a lunge from the receiver. You don't realize how welcome an addition that is until you see it in the game.
Along those same lines, quarterbacks simply aren't as accurate as they were before. In previous versions, about the only way a quarterback could throw an incomplete pass was if his receiver dropped it or if a defensive player batted it down or picked it off.
The fact is, sometimes balls are thrown poorly.
Madden 15 simulates that fairly well, though I advise turning down the sliders on QB accuracy from the default 50 to at least 45 for a more realistic experience.
Tackling and Defensive Line Play Have Been Simplified
Football is still about tackling, and that used to be a bit of a pain. Now there's the implementation of the tackle cone, which helps gamers know when they're able to reach out and touch ball-carriers.
You can choose to wrap up, tackle aggressively or dive. In any case, there are far fewer whiffs.
Playing as a defensive lineman has gotten much better as well. Instead of all the confusing analog stick controls, gamers now try to get a great jump off the snap initially.
From there, you use one of two buttons to beat offensive linemen. It's that simple of a concept, but executing the sequence is harder against top-notch O-linemen.
While some legacy issues persist in the game, the series is moving in the right direction with the most important part of the game.
Follow Brian Mazique, aka FranchisePlay, the sports and video game journalist, on Twitter.
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