With another football season comes a new Madden NFL game to get our hands on.

Despite the new additions of the locomotion system and upgrades to popular modes, will Madden once again face criticism for being lazy and basically releasing Madden 18.5, or will Madden 19 truly be a game of its own?

PRESENTATION

When entering an offline game, we are greeted by the new host, Johnathan Coachman, also known to many WWE fans as The Coach. His brief appearance may leave you feeling a bit disappointed that he’s not in the game more often as he replaces Larry Ridley inside the studio.

Watching the rest of the pre-game festivities in Madden 19 —  while I respect them for trying to have their own thing as far as broadcast packages go — you quickly notice, from other EA Sports titles, just how much an ESPN presentation can boost a sports game. From the scoreboard to just seeing stats, it’s easy to realize how effective broadcast visuals can be in relation to immersion.

The Coach makes another appearance in the all new Half Time Show. I liked it way more than I should have at first glance because it’s pretty bare at the moment; however, it does lay a nice foundation to build upon in the future. Still, a game that came out more than a decade ago should not still be the gold standard of halftime show. Yet, here we are.

As far as the main two, Brandin Gaudin and Charles Davis, they really don’t improve upon their Madden 17 and 18 performances. Gaudin more so than Davis, as he really misses the mark on huge game turning plays with the level of excitement he displays; we know announcers can make a huge play that much more exciting with their call.

Like last year, Madden’s announce team’s value comes in the updated lines we will hear throughout the season. 

GAMEPLAY

First thing I want to mention are the QB preplay signatures. They actually add a nice touch of realism to the game. However, after the first 3 or 4 times you see it, you wish your guy would hurry up so you can snap the ball.

Regarding passing, it’s largely the same. On the highest level, All-Madden, there’s an adequate number of inaccurate passes, where even the best at a certain type of throw can be way off target if thrown too fast or his feet aren’t set. That happens less the lower the difficulty is set. High passes to receivers are a bit overpowered, especially in the endzone.

Issues also arise when the locomotion system takes over on yards after the catch situations and cause you to turn into a mess. You usually just end up over-correcting yourself directly into a hit stick.

The run game will definitely be the most difficult to master in Madden 19 in the beginning.

Yes, I can tell the difference between a LaGarrette Blount and Tavon Auston. Unfortunately, there is still a steep learning curve just to avoid having your back not run like he’s in quicksand. The same goes for avoiding the herky-jerky motions that can sometimes occur when you lose control of your player in the open field.

Madden 19 forces you to unlearn years of muscle memory of holding the acceleration button as soon as you get the ball. That is if you aspire to have any chance of a functional run game this year.

Then, there’s the process of not getting into the open field and moving the left stick incorrectly allowing the locomotion to completely take over and before you know it, you’re rocking back and forth now.

A frustrating problem is that even when holes are there to run through, unless its directly in front of you, it’s a chore to get to them as it seems your running back can never get there fast enough resulting in being tackled before reaching it.

The defenders reactions to receivers and how they defend the ball specifically on non-deep balls has been a highlight

Running in a straight line at a decent speed will be a win for many gamers starting out. There will be so much wasted motion in the beginning and mid-game by those who haven’t mastered the locomotion system yet.

Now, if you can consistently get your running back to run like a normal person, the One Cut mechanic is a nice addition as I’ve pulled off some nice moves on defenders. The One Cut has placed itself nicely next to the Juke and Spin as one of my go to open field moves.

I’ve also found the Push the Pile mechanic to be effective on short yardage runs when I’m clearly about to get stuffed. Unfortunately, the Hit the Hole easily becomes the more forgotten of the three.

Momentum tackling is alive and well as I’ve seen backs punished for losing momentum with some eraser type hit sticks. On the contrary, I’ve witnessed smaller backs drive defenders straight into the endzone all because he had the angle and speed.

Man coverage has been improved and is finally a viable option, especially if you have quality corners. For zone defense, the defenders’ reactions to receivers and how they defend the ball specifically on non-deep balls has been a highlight for me so far. On the highest difficulty, plenty of defenders seem to be alert about balls in their direction.

Despite that, there are still a good amount of dropped interceptions even when the ball is thrown directly at a defender.

In Madden 19, unlike starting out last year, I’ve gotten pressure quickly with three/four linemen countless times and that’s something that’s obviously going to be patched.

Also, the trials and tribulations of controlling a player with Real Player Motion isn’t as noticeable on defense as it is on offense. That is, as long as you aren’t being aggressive with the stick in any direction. This gives user defense about the same learning curve as previous Maddens.

There’s the issue that pops up every Madden where the defender won’t acknowledge the ball on the ground.

Assuming the running back in question is running like a normal person, there’s a good mix of runs being blown up and times were the defensive line gets completely stoned and leaves a huge hole to run through. Instant Block sheds are reserved for the good run defenders and the weak blockers will get exposed like they should. 

Unfortunately, there’s more general issues like inexcusable blown coverage specifically from Cover 4. There are instances where my safety would flat out ignore the streaking slot receiver to go cover somebody else. Or there’s the issue that pops up every Madden where the defender won’t acknowledge the ball on the ground.

Yet, my most pressing problem is the abnormal amount of mid-air snags on interceptions and fumbles. Too often, they pop straight up into the air. It’s clear whoever made the decision to have it this way was inspired by Derek Barnett’s mid-air snag of Tom Brady’s fumble in the Superbowl, but we’ve seen countless other times it isn’t as easy as that.

Whenever new technology is implemented, the chances of seeing some off the wall stuff are high and Madden is no different. I’ve already given up a game deciding touchdown because my player decided to bounce right off a receiver who’s in the process of breaking a tackle.

While I must say the hit stick animations bring me back to the days of when Ray Lewis graced the cover and hit stick was your tackle button, the rate at which any and everybody seems to be able to lay some bone crushing hits is at an all-time high. Additionally, it’s not just the frequency, as I’ve had instances where defenders even hit stick running backs forward because apparently everybody on defense has 99 strength now.

GAME MODES

The mode offerings in Madden 19 are pretty straight forward. We have Play Now, Franchise, Ultimate Team, and Longshot.

Franchise mode hasn’t gotten a massive overhaul, but there are some noticeable changes. When you enter into the main hub, you’re now greeted by your Head Coach in his office as you witness a loop of him doing Coach things like use his iPad, pace around his offense, and talk on the phone.

Upon finishing a few seasons and comparing sim stats, I’ve realized there is still some work to do, especially when it comes to the passing numbers.

Other cosmetic changes include having the team schedule sprawled across the top of the screen, which is nice as it saved me four clicks to the right

The most hyped and actually useful addition is the new way to develop players with the Archetype Progression System. Each position now has 2-4 Archetypes that players can be labeled as and that’s what they’ll be at their highest overall. Now, the cool thing is through gaining XP, you’ll be able to gain Skill points which allows you to bump a player up a whole overall point in any of the archetypes. This will in turn affect the ratings that are most important to that archetype. What I love about this progression system is its random as to what ratings go up when you upgrade. Nelson Agholor might get plus 2 short route running and plus 2 catch in traffic to go up to an 86. Yet, instead he gets 3 short route running and maybe 1 awareness to go up to an 87. Players archetypes that match the coaches scheme get bonus training points; this is a nice way to reward guys who actually follow their scheme fits.

Upon finishing a few seasons and comparing sim stats, I’ve realized there is still some work to do, especially when it comes to the passing numbers.

While the yards or at least yards per game for all quarterbacks are fair, the QB Ratings are way too high. I counted 11 reaching a 100 or better QB rating in my final Sim while only 5 reached 100 in real life.

Apparently everybody is a 30 touchdown passer, despite there being very few in the real world. This then obviously boosts the TD totals of the receivers as a result.

The receiver numbers, despite the high touchdowns across the board, left a lot to be desired as the league leader rarely hit 100 catches. In my final sim, Julio Jones caught just 94 when 5 players caught 100 or more passes this past season

The amount of interceptions teams get in simulations is criminal. The Buccaneers leading the pack at 17 would have placed 9th in real life last year, despite the passing attempts by the quarterbacks being on par with real life.  For a simulation accurate stat guy like myself, this is unacceptable.

Now in the offseason, I’m glad to see young studs only hit free agency if the overalls at his position are high enough to justify him bolting, regardless of age.

It’s nice when you know the only reason Trevor Williams hits free agency is because the Chargers have 3 other 80 plus rated corners on the team and Dante Fowler was blocked by Campbell.

MUT is more enjoyable than ever before.

Another one of the more underrated new features is the ability to create draft classes in Madden 19. This will add a lot more depth to offline and online franchise modes along with an NFL Draft presentation that is stepping up and going in the right direction.

Madden Ultimate Team has received some welcomed additions like now streamlining the upgrade player process by having everything doable on the player card. There’s also the genius move of allowing us to earn the ability to upgrade players by quick selling items instead of a small amount of tokens like last year.

Adding a Solo Battles mode gives players who favor playing the computer a way to earn cards and coins. Lastly, contracts are now a thing of the past.

It’s safe to say that MUT is more enjoyable than ever before.

Longshot returns with the next chapter known as Longshot: Homecoming. Devin Wade and Colt Cruise return as Homecoming starts with a nice intro with Good Morning Football discussing our main character Wade in training camp.

The messed-up part is they start you out on the Dallas Cowboys. While I wish it would carry over the team you ended up on last year, having the Cowboys be the default is a flagrant foul in my book. The story isn’t something you haven’t seen on an episode of Friday Night Lights before, with the inclusion of more gameplay and the decent voice actors, Homecoming is another acceptable alternative to the regular Madden game.

VERDICT

In the end, Madden’s pride and joy, Ultimate Team, has received the most impactful upgrades while the franchise mode fanbase will still feel as if Madden is still a solid two or three steps behind as they look over at other sports franchise modes.

For as much hype as new mechanics and locomotion has received, Madden 19 doesn’t offer anything truly game changing to the consumer even though solid foundations have been built. Aside from the locomotion upping the difficulty to the run game, the average gamer will have a largely same gameplay experience as last year.


Want to talk sports and/or games with the fastest growing community in gaming? Join the conversation by registering at the official Sports Gamers Online Forums, and check out our Twitter and Facebook pages as well as our growing YouTube Channel!

  • Game Modes
  • Gameplay
  • Graphics/Presentation
  • Longevity

Summary

For as much hype as new mechanics and locomotion has received, Madden 19 doesn’t offer anything truly game changing to the consumer even though solid foundations have been built. Aside from the locomotion upping the difficulty to the run game, the average gamer will have a largely same gameplay experience as last year.

Overall
3.75

Pros

Franchise mode received some attention
One cut mechanic a nice addition
Ultimate Team more enjoyable

Cons

Steep learning curve for run game
Wonky physics
Player model clipping