With Madden 23, fans can expect a ton of changes to Foundational Football including what EA is calling the FieldSENSE™ Gameplay System. However, this feature and all its improvements will be only on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions. Still, many fans yet to make the jump to next gen console will many improvements to look forward to.
The Foundational Football Gridiron Notes starts with the areas of gameplay players reported to matter most: pass coverage, pass rush, and QB Contain, to deliver a more balanced gameplay experience. For Madden NFL 23, EA focuses on three defensive fundamentals to provide the authenticity and balance players desire. You can check out the Grid Iron notes from EA below.
Madden 23: gameplay improvements and more
We received a ton of feedback at launch last year around pass coverage and continued to action on specific coverage call-outs through Title Updates post-launch. Like every Madden season, we know that players have high expectations for defense, specifically pass coverage and this year is no different. This year, we are solidifying our basic, fundamental coverage principles with a focus on zone coverage and defending the deep pass.
- Spot Drop Zones
We will be featuring ‘spot-drop’ zones as our core zone coverage concept within our defensive playbooks and AI. This means that by default, all the zone coverages in our playbooks will be strictly using spot-drop zone logic and covering a specific area of the field, instead of a mixture of both spot-drops and match coverages like we had last year. The main purpose of this change was to make the play-art in the play-call screen the central source of truth for players so they can better predict how their zones will react during the play.Match Zone coverage concepts are still accessible through our Coach Adjustments menu during your play selection. Simply flipping the Zone Coverage Coach Adjustment to ‘Match’ will bring back our in-depth ruleset for match coverages, those that convert from zone to man during the play, when specifically calling the match coverage play types.
- Drift Logic for Deep Zone Defenders
Drift Logic is all new coverage behavior for Deep Zone defenders. This logic prevents deep zone defenders from ‘drifting’ too far up the field without having a vertical threat in their area. This will prevent those ‘Third Window’ throws on deep crossing routes. Drift Logic allows the defender to recognize a receiver approaching his zone sooner, plaster him in coverage as he crosses his face, and not get beat underneath. Players told us those third-window crossers were completed too consistently and this new ‘drift’ logic aims to address that feedback.
- Zone Defender Locomotion
We’ve captured a whole new set of defensive back specific movement animations and along with AI support, the defenders in Madden NFL 23 will back-pedal, flip their hips, strafe and look back at the ball more smoothly, more athletically, and more realistically. Not only will defensive backs look the part, but these new movement animations also get them to where they want to go with more efficiency, which will make passing windows against zone coverage much tighter.
- Route Specific Break-on-Throw Logic
We’ve also added dynamic break times for each type of zone defender when facing specific routes. Zones that are supposed to take away specific routes or areas of the field will now break on the throw faster versus those routes than they will against routes their zones are not designed to take away. One example of this is a hard flat zone aggressively breaking on a route to the flat instead of leveraging deeper routes first; another is deep outside third defender in Cover 3 breaking faster when a corner route enters their zone.
- New End Zone Coverage Logic
Previously, our deep zone defenders made little logic adjustments when they were covering in the endzone. This resulted in defenders squeezing down on routes breaking to the inside while disregarding the underneath zone defenders resulting in the sidelines and the corners of the end zone being left wide open. This year, those outside deep zone defenders stay outside and sit on those out-breaking or third window crossing routes. They let the route come to them and then they aggressively break on the throw.
- DB Catch vs Swat
With our zone coverage defenders playing stronger fundamental football, we have tuned the balance between ‘play ball,’ ‘play receiver,’ and ‘swat’ so that you’ll see defenders use a wider variety of behaviors when the ball is in the air, rather than always attempting the interception. This coincides with tuning on how far defenders are allowed to see the ball when not facing it and promotes more organic mid-air interactions at the catch point, via our FieldSENSE Hit Everything branching technology and mechanics.
Pass Rush & QB Contain
While we’ve made an investment in our coverage fundamentals, our players know that pass coverage is only as good as the pass rush in front of it. What we have truly created this year is a larger, pass defense initiative for Madden NFL 23 by fine-tuning our pass rush to increase pressure and refining disengage efforts from defenders to deal with mobile quarterbacks.
- Quicker Get Offs for All Pass Rushers
Pass rushers are now going to get off the ball much quicker in Madden NFL 23. Any blitzing player will have much shorter delay times in reacting to the snap that opens up more QB pressures when calling stock blitz plays. In addition, new animations for both blockers and pass rushers during their battles result in the pocket forming more naturally while also collapsing faster. QB’s will have to step up in the pocket and/or use check-downs more often to consistently get the ball out before the pass rush gets home.
- Rush Lane Integrity
Pass Rushers got new logic and playbook assignments that will improve the integrity of the rush lanes (i.e. Gaps) when rushing the passer. This means that each lane will be filled by a rusher while avoiding having multiple rushers in a single gap, which would essentially allow those defenders to block themselves and take them out of the play.
- Disengage Improvements
Stopping mobile QBs has always been a difficult task for defenses, both in the NFL and in Madden NFL. For Madden NFL 23, we’ve added new AI and tuned some of the defensive behaviors to give the defense more balanced tools to deal with mobile quarterbacks.We’ve improved disengage animations for pass rushers to get away from blockers faster, for both 1-on-1 blocks and double-team blocks, to pursue the quarterback when they roll out. We’ve also improved the prediction AI for contain players so they’ll be more responsive in anticipating when the QB is going to take off so they can react quicker and get themselves in the proper position to make a play.
To bring balance and more authenticity, we added new pass block animations that work in combination with our pass rush AI. Some of the new animations you’ll notice are engagements that get more depth in and around the pocket so it will collapse without always having to have a defender shed a block. This includes edge animations that both bring pressure as well as set the edges of the pocket. And lastly, add on blocks which was discussed in the FieldSENSE notes – but we wanted to call them out again because the ability for route runners and open field blockers to seamlessly enter and exit ongoing blocks is something players have been wanting to see.Also, if you decided to just “ctrl + F” for Escape Artist, we got you. Escape Artist has been pulled from the passive Superstar Ability pool and is now an X-Factor in Madden NFL 23. Once you’ve met the in-game X-Factor conditions to activate it, the boost granted with Escape Artist when activated will be reduced compared to previous years. We still want to offer the explosive play making ability for mobile quarterbacks but feel this is a better balanced approach. We’ll have more details on Superstar X-Factor abilities in a future Gridiron Notes for Madden NFL 23 but we know this one was important to our most dedicated players.
Additional Foundational Football Improvements
That’s not all the Foundational Football improvements to Madden NFL 23, just the ones we wanted to share first! We have even more to talk about in several key areas of our gameplay.
New context-sensitive catching animations have been added so that no matter where you place the ball with the new FieldSENSE Skill-Based Passing mechanic, the appropriate catch will follow.
Throwing to the furthest lead point on a streak route with Skill-Based Passing will allow your receiver to catch it while reaching out over his shoulders. If you throw to a receivers back shoulder on a streak, you’ll see new back shoulder catch animations. We’ve also included new fade catch animations when throwing corner and fade routes towards the sidelines or corner of the end zone.
In Madden NFL 23, our top goals for playbooks center around streamlining and differentiating our content to better tie-in with our gameplay feature set, while also adding enough that’s new to bring value to both new and veteran players.
To better tie in with our pass coverage and defensive alignment improvements, we refined the plays available in our defensive sets to help ensure they’re able to function properly when matched against common offensive looks. In the NFL, defensive coordinators strive to marry the coverage shell and the alignment of the front together so that structurally they can function without the need for too many special adjustments.What this means for Madden NFL 23 is lower play counts in each defensive set compared to previous years, but we believe players will appreciate that the plays available in each set will better hold up from an alignment, pass coverage, and run defense perspective.An example of this, in our 3-4 and 4-3 Under sets players will notice most of the plays available will show a single high safety middle of the field closed look. We added new plays such as a Cover 2 Invert and Trap Blitzes that will look like Cover 1 or Cover 3 to the offense. These new plays will complement the improvements to our deep zone pass coverage.
On the offensive side, our goal is focusing on what the teams actually do as it relates to their real life counterparts. In the past we’ve seen teams use a formation on a consistent basis but only ran a handful of plays, and thus that formation would be filled out with common plays shared across multiple playbooks. For Madden NFL 23 we focused on adding the core plays and concepts each NFL team used the most, which resulted in more concise and slightly smaller playbooks that are more team specific and unique. We’ll do a deeper dive in a future Gridiron Notes on specific plays and other changes we’ve made for playbooks in Madden NFL 23.
AI-quarterbacks have been tuned to give better differentiation in how well they see the field under pressure depending on their ratings. Quarterbacks with a lower awareness rating will struggle to find open receivers and have a higher chance of throwing to a partially covered target, allowing your defense to make a big play.
New injury animations have been added to players while standing and running. We’ve also added new injury animations when battling in the trenches, primarily so that when injuries happen, the immersion isn’t broken by seeing an injured player instantly running back to the huddle. When a player gets injured during the play, you’ll see the appropriate behavior as he goes to the ground and he’ll stay on the ground until he’s assisted off the field by the training staff.
We’ve captured new signature animations for a selection of the top players in the league, to add some of the latest and best big play and touchdown celebrations seen on gameday. In addition to this, we’ve added more signature animations to celebration locomotion so players will run into the endzone more like their real life counterparts.
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