Madden NFL 18 Gameplay Designer Clint Oldenburg joins us to answer all of your community questions about Madden 18 Gameplay. Madden 18’s release date is set for August 25th with the G.O.A.T. Edition being released 3 days earlier on August 22nd with Ultimate Team mode bonuses.

Do the new wide receiver and DB line of scrimmage interactions, happen in human VS CPU games? Will they use those same mechanics?

Yeah. The AI will use the same mechanics as the user, and when to use each mechanic comes from play that they’ve chosen to run.

Does the new target passing system tie directly to the quarterback’s rating? Does the size of the reticle change upon that?

Not currently. When you go into target passing, we think you’re taking the skill over of that position. Where the ratings come into play is zip on the ball- how quickly the ball can get to the spot you’re trying to throw to. That’s where it’s currently at. There may be a few more changes coming before launch, but that’s where we’re at right now.

One big thing people had an issue with the past couple years is man coverage and press. How has man coverage and press been improved?

Both were worked on. The press mechanics came in when we did the wide receiver DB stuff. We updated how shading works, increased the pre-snap adjustment for shading inside, shading outside. We did a lot of logic updates for man coverage. Really what we wanted to concentrate on was making shutdown man-coverage corners reflect that in the game, so that you can have one of those guys and take away that side of the field.

How did the running animations improve for Madden 18? Do the jukes moves work a little better this year?

Yeah, we did another pass on our ball-carrier passer special moves. We still have the four- or three tiers of moves, the fourth being for the heavy guys. But we made through and made them much smoother, much faster. You’re gonna see a lot more fake outs. You’re gonna wanna use spin and juke a lot more than in Madden 17.

I noticed when playing the game, it felt a lot there was a lot more weight to the players. Is that something you guys focused on this year?

Not really, to be honest. And we’re getting that feedback, that the players feel more weighted. They feel like they’re attached to the field better. It’s not something that we consciously worked on. I think that’s some of the stuff that we’re getting from Frostbite. And I think that’s some of the visual upgrade that people talk about when they say “What do you get from Frostbite?” And I think that’s one of those examples.

One of the issues people had was with offensive line play. I know you have ID the Mike, but what offensive line work has been done?

We did a lot of upgrades in every area. Individually, each thing we did probably isn’t a really big deal, but put it all together and it coalesces into a really big story for blocking. Like you said, ID the Mike is the user facing feature, but we also improved the AI around pole blockers and open-field blockers. Wide receiver and runningback screens. Wide receiver blocking. We also did a lot of work in tuning pass rush and getting different outcomes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed while playing, but the pocket is forming better than ever. And I’ve been a big pocket formation guy ever since I joined the Madden team five years ago and I think every year it’s gotten better and better. And I think that it just comes out and hits you right in the face the first time you drop back to pass.

And then lastly we have reach tackles and reach sacks, and that’s a user mechanic. On run plays, you can use either bumper to reach out of a block and then you’ll be able to match a three man tackle with the defender, the blocker, and the running back. And then the reach sack, while your passing rushing, if you get close enough to the quarterback- and this is for both AI and users as well- he will reach out and grab the quarterback over the block and you can get some really cool three-man interactions in that scenario as well.

Is nano detection still in the game this year?                                 

It’s still in the game. We’re going to look at finding different ways to improve it. And we’re going to listen to feedback from all of the competitive guys in their mode, the simulation guys in their mode. And see what they want that to be, but I wouldn’t predict that that’s going anywhere.

The new game styles are a huge change up. How do you see that playing out and what was the thought behind implementing that this year?

Well, the thought behind it was anytime we wanted to make a post-launch changes with tuner updates, we couldn’t do it without one side of the isle getting upset at the other side. And that’s not a great way to build a strong community and a strong user base. We want everybody to enjoy the game no matter what changes need to be made. So I think that’s the biggest advantage is that if something needs tuned, if we find something is overpowered or underpowered, we can tune it mode-specific.

So for example, if the simulation guys really like the way half-back stretch feels, but the competitive guys don’t, we don’t have to effect both of them. I think that’s the biggest advantage.

Do you still have the QB avoidance stick? Are you going to overhaul or take a look at that? 

We actually got rid of the QB avoidance stick this year. Because it was in conflict with our new target passing mechanic. So now, that’s a contextual deal. The AI quarterbacks are still going to do it, but the user is only going to have the little contextual movements when he runs into things around the pocket. It is something, like everything else in the game, we want to make better. So that’s where it is now.

When you play underneath on defense, in zone or man, when shading inside or outside, will that stop those routes better?                                                 

We updated shading with the wide receiver/DB stuff. The biggest thing you’re gonna notice is two things: When you shade in or out, you’re going to see them physically move, the guys who you shaded. The cornerbacks will physically move inside or outside. And if you have them pressing, they will press in that direction. So if you are shading outside, he’s gonna press them to the inside, or at least try to. And then the ratings are going to determine whether he wins or loses that. That’s one of the things that comes with those mechanics.

One thing people had issues with last year was the high minor drops by wide receivers. Do you guys did kind of address that a little bit toward the end of the year with some of the patches. Will you continue to work on that for Madden 18?

Yeah. We’ve been working on catching all year- well, for two years. A lot of those drop passes were a bug, a major bug that we’re still working out and trying to nail down moving forward. All of the ones that were not bugs are one of the other reasons we’ve decided to do game styles. What competitive styles can give you is that if you have a receiver who is over a certain rating in catching, let’s say 90, then if he’s wide open and the ball hits him in the hands then he will never drop the ball in a competitive game mode. In simulation, he still may have a 2% chance to drop it. So you’re going to get that randomness still on simulation that simulation guys embrace, whereas the competitive guys who don’t want randomness deciding the outcome of their game is going to be reduced.

What are some of the legacy issues you guys worked on and addressed from Madden 18?

Oh, man. Everything. Like I said, blocking- all the blocking stuff. Legacy is really how ID the Mike was created. So we’ve given you guys the tools to pick up any blitz that might be coming your way. We picked up on the complaint that people stopped runs too well on dollar, quarter, dime. It’s actually pretty heavy-handed there. If you have a weak tackle box and the offense is in a heavy run formation, you’re going to have a very, very hard time stopping the run. You’re going to see a lot of guys getting pancaked and it’s going to make you not want to be in that defense all day. I don’t think there wasn’t anything that came out in Legacy that we didn’t go after.

If you missed it you can find Madden 18 Franchise Details here.

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Stay tuned for the next part as of the interview as we cover Graphics & Presentation in Madden NFL 18 and be sure to subscribe to our Youtube Channel for the latest on your favorite sports games.

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Jesse Galena
As a fan of spectacle in all forms, Jesse Galena particularly enjoys MMA, eSports, as well as professional and indie wrestling. Jesse’s always excited to try any sports game that leans toward the bizarre or unconventional, though nothing can replace a well-executed classic. Outside of video games, Jesse enjoys playing ridiculous table top RPGs, watching standup comedy, and losing at board games. He also writes fantasy/sci-fi novels and RPG material. You can follow him on Twitter @RexiconJesse.