Madden NFL 20 is winding down, and we are quickly approaching the release of Madden 21. With the rise of Madden Ultimate Team, Connected Franchise players have felt pushed to the side over the years as each iteration sees less improvements and fixes than many hoped for. In recent years we have seen some new features added such as custom draft classes, fifth-year options, and  a slightly expanded career mode. Having said that, there are still many features and improvements lacking in Connected Franchise Mode, and today we will be looking at ten of the most needed franchise fixes for Madden NFL 21.

Top 10 Connected Franchise Mode

10. Draft and Rookie Development

They should expand upon the “fog of war” in Madden 20, but make all dev traits for rookies hidden, not just star or superstar players. This will provide more mystery and take more skill in developing rookies. It will also make the preseason more meaningful; you’ll have to work to unlock rookie ratings throughout the season depending on how much playing time you give them. This incentivizes people to play their rookies more and increase player attachment to them.

This system would actually make you play those late round picks and UDFAs rather than just cutting them when you see they are 64 overall with normal dev. Combine this feature with an expanded player morale system and the scenario engine would make a franchise feel alive for the first time in Madden. If you sync all these systems to work together, you can have a league filled with tough decisions, online or offline. Also, the implementation of scouts, assistant and position coaches providing feedback (influenced by scheme fit, chemistry and performance) all can add much needed depth to the draft and rookie development.

9. Realistic Pre-Season

Not every league plays the pre-season, but for those that do, playing the same four teams year in and year out gets boring. There are a few solutions: randomize the schedules every year rather than keeping the same teams every season, or allow teams or commissioners of the league to schedule their pre-season similar to old NCAA Football games. It would allow teams to play against users they likely wouldn’t otherwise, and could make the pre-season more enjoyable. This simple fix that would make an often-overlooked aspect of CFM more interesting as you would essentially be able to schedule “exhibition” games before the start of your season.

8. Increased Free Agency Depth

The free agency system currently functions as a simple bidding system; someone can put in a last-second bid and miraculously get a player. While many players in the NFL often go to teams that offer them the most lucrative contracts, there are so many more variables that factor into a player’s decision to sign a new contract with another team. The NBA 2K series has a very deep free agency system; they have restricted free agency, team and player options, and individual player ratings that impact how players act during contract negotiations. Every player has a loyalty, play for a winner, and financial security rating that directly impacts the decisions they make as free agents. For example, a player could be seeking a monster contract, and not care where they get it, while a veteran player is more likely to take a pay cut to play for a contender. An extremely loyal player would be more willing to sign a cheaper deal with the team that drafted them. This would make free agency feel more real and immersive.

7. Cross-Platform File Sharing

Users should be able to access files made on other systems, such as rosters, draft classes, and playbooks. If a great draft class is made on PC, consoles should be able to access it and vice versa. This is a relatively simple issue that is likely overlooked by most users, but being able to access files from any system would help all players achieve the best gaming experience possible in being able to find the best custom rosters or draft classes. Access to cross-platform file sharing would also increase ease in large projects such as custom draft classes, as it would be easier to create them on PC and export them to a console league. Furthermore, being able to export your franchise team into others modes as well as share it across platforms would be a much needed addition.

6. Contract Restructuring

Though it is not the most common occurrence in the NFL, there are plenty of instances of a player working with their team’s General Manager to restructure a contract to create more cap space and improve their team. A restructure system could build upon the personality ratings suggested in free agency, making the experience more dynamic. A player with high loyalty or one that wants to play for a contender would be more willing to change their contract, while one who wants financial security would be insulted by the proposition to restructure and either hold out for a few weeks or request a trade. This undoubtedly adds another layer of immersion and allow users to be more flexible with the salary cap than they normally would.

5. More Activities Between Games

Many leagues run on a 48 or 72-hour advance schedule, and for those who play their games on the night of the league advancing the week, they can get bored waiting. One way to not only make the experience more enjoyable for users but also more immersive would be to allow teams more flexibility in practice mode. Teams could have a scrimmage where they can play a game with a clock, downs, and quarters rather than just random plays. They could pit the first-team offense against the first-team defense, second-team offense against the second-team defense, or any combination. Teams could also practice scenarios such as a two-minute drill, third-down offense, fourth-down offense, or redzone offense/ defense. Another fun idea is off-season scrimmages between teams. The practice mode during the offseason could allow for teams to essentially have the “play now” feature within the league and play games with no risk of injury. This would resemble joint training camps such as those seen on Hard Knocks and would make the off-season more enjoyable for every team.

4. Customization and Relocation

Creating the tools for users to make their own stadiums, uniforms, logos, team name, and location is long overdo. NCAA 14 had the Teambuilder mode, which shows that the capabilities are there. EA would not have to create any generic locations or ideas. Simply make it possible for users to build their own franchise, and the Madden community can do the rest. The possibilities are limitless, as seen in NBA 2K’s MyLeague mode. Players come up with amazingly creative ideas, and a league feels much more immersive and lived in. Being able to relocate to any city and craft a franchise exactly how you want it would be such a great creative opportunity for users, and would definitely lead to some large relocation franchise YouTube series.

3. Coaching Carousel

The old NCAA Football games had a coaching carousel where you could be a Head Coach or Offensive/ Defensive Coordinator. Madden could bring this feature back and make Madden even more realistic. Coordinators could bring in their own scheme, and Head Coaches would be able to pick and choose based on how they want their team to play. These coordinators could add unique boosts to their team based upon scheme fit. For example, if an Offensive Coordinator known for their passing attack is brought into a team with great receivers and quarterback, the team would get a slight boost when passing, whereas if the same coordinator went to a run-heavy team, they would have no benefit until the team is built to fit their scheme. Added importance to coaching decisions would mirror the NFL more closely, and make the experience as a whole much more interesting.

2. Recreation Scenarios

If there is a disconnect during a game, teams are stuck trying to come up with a way to replay their game from the point of disconnection. This can get tedious and needlessly confusing, as well as creating the potential for conflict between players. A solution is simple: allow commissioners to create scenarios for games and start from there. For example, if a game disconnects midway through the fourth quarter, a commissioner would be able to recreate the score, time, and stats. Being able to recreate game scenarios would settle many conflicts that arise over the course of a CFM season. Sometimes, a user will quit a game emotionally, leaving their opponent stuck without the statistics they were able to get. This would even allow more casual players to create close fourth quarter scenarios to play for fun.

1. Expanded Dynamic Player Scenarios

Having development trait scenarios in Madden 20 was a big step towards making CFM a more unique experience every time you play. No two franchises should be the same. This concept could be expanded on by increasing player behavior. For example, a star player on a contract year could hold out until they get a contract that suits their desires. An unhappy player could request a trade from a losing team. A reckless player could get suspended during the off-season. Random events could be based on a slider setting in-game, allowing each league to decide what level of events they want to occur within their league.

Let me know your thoughts on these top ten and on anything you would include that was NOT on our list.


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