Because I was on the fence about getting Madden this year, after really not seeing much in terms of updates to my favorite game mode (Franchise), I decided to purchase the EA Access game pass for $5. You get to try out the game for 10 hours before you buy it, and before release day, so if you’ve pre-ordered, you can easily cancel if the game is awful.
The download is the entire game file, 47 GB. In the EA Access version, unlike last year, you can play the entirety of this year’s installment of Longshot. That’s where I started in the game, and that’s what I will talk about first. This is a completely spoiler free review outside of the setup.
As you begin, Devin Wade is a member of the Dallas Cowboys and is fighting for a roster spot. Colt seems to have been dropped from the NFL, and is back home. What I loved so much about last year’s Longshot, was the choices you had in dialogue, which had direct correlation to your successes, failures, and direction of your story. This year that has been completely eliminated outside of ONE instance. I was extremely disappointed by this because it removes the aspect of being involved in the story and the semblance of making your own choices, and forces you to watch long cutscenes you have zero control over.
There is more in-game time in Longshot, but there are none of the button sequences that I think enhanced last year’s game. The game mode feels disjointed, and instead of one cohesive story, is telling the stories of Devin and Colt separately. That being said, they do focus a lot more on Colt this year, almost exclusively, actually, and whether you love or hate the outcome, that is a breath of fresh air. Longshot: Homecoming is a quick play at between 3-4 hours depending on how long the ultra frustrating matchup with the Patriots takes (no matter the difficulty level, I found). I would give the mode a C+ after it was a solid A last year. The lack of options, and the disjointed story were too much to come back from.
After playing through Longshot in just over 4 hours, I had about 6 hours left of playtime. I decided to hop into my favorite game mode, Franchise, and see how things are different. There’s a shiny new skin on things, and the narrator has changed for the menus, but it has almost the exact same layout as last season. The biggest notable change is in the way players progress, in that they will earn points to boost their overall rating in one of the two to four archetypes for each position. Each scheme will have specific archetypes that fit, and the players that match those archetypes will level up faster than those who aren’t “scheme fits.” Also, custom draft classes are back, so I immediately downloaded the highest downloaded 2019 NCAA draft class, and of course traded up to draft Nick Bosa to play across from his big brother. Outside of these changes, nothing really has changed with Franchise mode, which is incredibly frustrating, as it feels EA Sports has completely ignored many people’s reason for buying the game, in favor of beefing up parts of the game where they can make more money (ultimate team).
I do not play ultimate team, because it feels like a pay to win mobile game, and so I have nothing to review on that mode.
As far as gameplay goes, the most noticeable differences for me were here. The game is the best looking NFL game to ever come out, and has a noticeable upgrade over last year’s edition. This year also marks the rollout of EA’s real player motion, which is supposed to give you more realistic results from player ratings, and make someone like Darren Sproles feel differently than Marshawn Lynch in game. For me, what that meant was a ton of curse words and frustration as Melvin Gordon would get stuffed at the line or for a loss almost every single play. It wasn't until a little later that I read that you need to actually utilize the sprint trigger to shoot holes, instead of holding it as you take the handoff. Also, outside runs are MUCH more successful, at least for the Chargers, than inside runs. This year, the game was also supposed to be updated and not allow middle linebackers to make acrobatic interceptions while not even looking at the ball, and to allow wideouts to actually maintain possession through contact. I can tell you that those “updates” are bulls***. I started on All-Pro as I always do, and couldn’t move the ball. I couldn’t run it, and couldn't pass it. So I turned it down to pro, which I haven’t done since probably Madden 09, and I still managed to throw 5 interceptions in the game against the Browns. Playing on simulation mode will probably give you life-like yardage statistics, at the expense of heavily increased interceptions. Our very own Michael Peterson admitted he has thrown three times as many interceptions as he has thrown touchdowns this year. So, its not just me, for those of you who were going to comment “git gud.”
Online head to head is actually a little bit better. Sliders may be turned down or something, but there are less interceptions, and running the ball seems a little easier, even though default is supposed to be All-Pro for the players not controlled by the user. The game feels fair, and your skill can win you a game over some jack-off playing as the patriots. As a side note, I always hated the people who would always pick the best team in the game.
Overall, Madden looks better in-game, has the same menu system, the same franchise mode, has poured more money into the only aspect of the game they can monetize, and has overhauled how to play the game, with emphasis on the
crappy run game. In some areas, EA took a step forward with this game, and in others, took two steps back. I preferred Madden 18, but I think Madden 19’s replay ability will be higher than last year’s.
Overall grade: C
If you’d like to purchase the game digitally on Xbox, I’d strongly recommend you buy EA Access for one month so you can try it out for 10 hours before purchasing it, and make your decision that way. It also saves you 10% on the retail price of the game (and no tax, where I am at least), so you don’t end up spending more than you would have.
For others who don’t care about having the game as a digital download, I strongly recommend to order via Amazon, because prime members get a 20% discount on pre-orders up until (I believe) two weeks after release.
I hope you all enjoyed this review. If any of you have interest in an online CFM, please comment below, and we can try to get something set up. If we can get it set up, I will devote some of my upcoming content on BFTB to that.