With Tom Brady draped on the cover, fans of the Madden franchise knew EA Sports wouldn't pull any punches with its latest release, Madden 18.
Releasing August 25 on a host of platforms, and a few days earlier on pre-orders, the latest edition trumpets big changes in a wide range of areas, from gameplay to game modes and the beloved Ultimate Team.
Here's a look at the cover, courtesy of EA Sports:
Of course, perhaps the only thing as important as the new features each year are the Madden ratings. Below, let's point out some of the most noteworthy ratings and dip into those new features.
Notable Player Ratings
- Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots, 99
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers, 98
- Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers, 97
- David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals, 94
- Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons, 98
- Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 97
- Marshal Yanda, T, Baltimore Ravens, 96
- Zack Martin, T, Dallas Cowboys, 95
- Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos, 94
- Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos, 99
- Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers, 98
- Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks, 95
- Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns, 83
- O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 82
- Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets, 81
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers, 81
- Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars, 81
The biggest cause of debate when it comes to player ratings usually centers on who tops the food chain at important positions, so the above is a sampling of said food chain as well as a look at the top rookies, with full player ratings available at EASports.com.
Really, though, it's hard to find any major complaints with the top players here. One could champion a Matt Ryan or A.J. Green breaking in at their respective positions, but so many small factors go into the ratings it's hard to doubt the accuracy. The fact Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. tops his position speaks volumes to the work put in, as he's generally considered one of the league's most criminally underrated players.
As for the rookies, well, some had quite the interesting reactions to their ratings:
Rookie ratings are often the best part of this because they can change in a dramatic fashion. Upswing candidates here include Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard because of his slotting in an offense with Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, as well as Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers because of his skill set and fit next to Cam Newton.
A few years down the line, it'll be quite funny to see how the rookies' reactions hold up under the hindsight lens.
New Features and Ultimate Team
As one can see above, this year's release takes a cue from the movie-esque campaigns in games like the NBA 2K series to deliver a full-blown story mode, where decisions the player makes impact where and how it unfolds.
EA Sports is also going out of its way to make the game more accessible to a variety of gamers via new game styles, which fall under Arcade, Simulation and Competitive experiences.
They're exactly what they sound like, too—Arcade will be a more casual experience, Simulation will do exactly what it sounds like and Competitive hinges more than ever on the skill of the player at the controls.
The kicker is what the three new systems allow EA Sports to do via updates, per the game's website: "Game styles not only lets players decide their gameplay experience, they also give the Madden devs the ability to tailor the game to specific communities after launch, via Tuner Updates. This gives devs the flexibility to tune each game style individually throughout the Madden cycle, so that the preferences of one community aren't impacted by another."
Of course, Ultimate Team is likely the biggest draw for fans of the game once again. The collection frenzy is back again with challenges, milestones for polishing off collections and auctions, along with the usual consistent content updates.
Perhaps most impressive is the implementation of "Squads" or "MUT" that falls under the Ultimate Team umbrella. There, an owner can team up with two friends for online play by choosing a role from Offensive Captain, Defensive Captain or Head Coach and taking on another three-person team.
The official blog from producer Jake Stein not only explains the roles and mode in depth, but stresses the importance of teamwork to succeed in this new co-op event: "While the Head Coach may not be bringing in the players, it will still be important to make sure all three players on a MUT Squad are on the same page and working together to come away with the victory."
In short, it seems EA Sports is once again taking Madden to a new level based on the feedback given from fans. Co-op online play will finally make a return, there is more depth than ever to Ultimate Team, it caters to different types of players and offers usual in-game improvements like the new target passing, all of which makes for quite the appealing package yet again.
Information courtesy of EASports.com unless otherwise specified.