Title: Madden NFL 19
Available On: Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4, Windows PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports, EA Tiburon
Genre: Sports game
Official Site: https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl
Release Date: August 10th, 2018
Where To Buy It: Xbox Games Store, PlayStation Store, Origin, Local Retailers
[As you will see below, this review was written before the horrendous events that took place in Jacksonville, FL last week. If you would like to make a donation benefiting those who were affected by this senseless act of violence, EA has set up a GoFundMe called The Jacksonville Tribute Fund.]
If you’re a huge Madden fan, you probably don’t need this review. Most likely you’ve already picked up your copy and are deep into a franchise or your MUT team. So with this review, I wanted to gear it towards the people who are on the fence about buying Madden 19.
New Year, Same Old Madden?
This is going to sound a bit indecisive but the answer is both yes and no. As you can see by the three-star rating, I actually really enjoyed Madden 19 and do believe it is worth picking up. However, it still has some major problems that EA has to deal with if they still want gamers’ money in future installments.
Gameplay is a Mixed Bag
This is where you’ll see the first of my two major complaints about this game that lowers it to its three-star rating. With advancements such as improved animations and graphics, I shouldn’t really have many criticisms when it comes to the gameplay.
Let’s start with what’s good about the gameplay of Madden 19. Like a briefly mentioned above, Madden 19 features an overhaul of the way players run, catch, tackle, and pretty much everything else on the field. Along with great animations, the visuals and character models look as amazing as it did last year with the Frostbite engine.
Finally, I can’t express to you enough how much I love passing the ball in this game. These developers at EA Sports and EA Tiburon have definitely made passing the ball feel like more a skill that I have to hone rather than just based off of my QB’s overall rating.
Now getting to the ugly parts of Madden 19’s on the field issues. Like every year, there are countless bugs and glitches that ruin the immersion of the game. That’s really my main indictment on the gameplay as a whole when I think about it. There isn’t any immersion to me at all (on the field). The crowd is consistently a non-factor, the presentation is lackluster at best, and any realism that the game wanted to go for is thrown out the window due to weird glitches that are guaranteed to happen in every other matchup.
Custom Draft Classes Makes its Way to Madden 19
Franchise mode is where I spent the bulk of my time and I can confidently say that it is the best mode in the game. This is largely due to the inclusion of custom draft classes that allows you to download other gamers’ draft rosters featuring future NFL stars (by the way, if you are someone who creates these custom rosters, thank you).
A problem I’ve faced in previous Madden games is the unrealistic free-agent destinations, draft picks, and player values of CPU controlled teams. Here, that frustrating aspect is toned down drastically as I’ve only seen a few CPU generated moves that bothered me.
Madden 19 also features a new depth chart section called specialists. With the ability to specifically select positions such as slot wide receiver, edge rushers, nickel cornerback, and even a power running back, you are able to mold your team in better ways than ever before.
As a diehard football fan, I really enjoyed this aspect. Players like Julian Edelman and Stefon Diggs, who perform their best work at the slot wide receiver role, can finally be put in their real-life positions instead of being forced to play outside due to their high overall ratings.
Longshot Story Mode Finally Finds its Footing
Returning to Madden 19 is the story-driven Longshot mode featuring best friends Devin and Colt. The former Texas high school all-stars are still fighting for their dreams of making it in the NFL and I gotta admit, Longshot: Homecoming surprisingly clicked with me.
The first Longshot felt a bit messy story-wise and a lack of gameplay really hurt the mode from reaching its full potential. Here, we get more gameplay and a story that was more relatable than an All-Pro quarterback trying to get drafted using reality television. Putting the main focus on Colt is also another win here seeing as I actually found him to be more intriguing than his best friend. That’s not to say Devin’s story missed its mark either. His struggles from the previous game continue here and his journey to make it in the NFL was a wild ride full of fun surprises.
If you’re a sucker for good football movies (like I am) then I would highly suggest you check out this mode as quickly as possible.
Madden Ultimate Team is Clearly the Primary Focus for the Series Going Forward
That title may seem a little too harsh but if you can’t tell, this is my second major criticism on Madden 19. If you are a fan of Ultimate Team (or MUT), more power to you. You can be a fan of the mode but you can’t deny that EA has put a huge focus on MUT in recent years. Now, it looks like this may be where the future of the series lies.
I’m not going to go into a 10 paragraph rant on why this wouldn’t be a good move for EA. If you want to see my opinions on it, check out this video by YouTuber Angry Joe. He brings up some very valid points on this mode’s impact in the Madden franchise and I actually agree with most of his arguments.
As for Ultimate Team in Madden 19. I do see the appeal here. I get to grind out points to develop my own fantasy team with my favorite NFL players despite the era they played in. That’s a cool concept. Where MUT in Madden 19 falters is with its boring grind. Completing these challenges, which awards you with currency to purchase packs and player cards, are just so tedious and sleep-inducing. I honestly felt like I spent more time in loading screens than in the actual game.
Initially, I did feel a bit claustrophobic while navigating the menus seeing as I am going into a mode that I’m extremely unfamiliar with but eventually I picked up all of the MUT mechanics up over time.
Verdict: Overall, Madden 19 is not a bad game. In fact, it could have been the best Madden that I’ve ever played if not for some problems. A lack of immersion on the field due to glitches and lazy presentation hurts what should be regarded as one of the greatest gameplay experiences in a Madden game yet. The focus on MUT scares me for the future of this franchise. There is just so much money to be made in this mode that it seems that there is a major focus on making MUT great instead of just making a great football game.
- Frostbite engine
- Real-Player motion
- Passing feels less about your overall and more of a skill
- Additions to franchise mode such as custom draft classes and specialist positions
- Longshot 2.0 is a big step up from its predecessor
- Bugs and glitches
- Lazy Presentation
- Lack of immersion
- A primary focus on Ultimate Team instead of other modes