Every year, we look forward to new improvements to Madden NFL. To combat the notion that people are paying for a $60 roster update each year, EA needs something to create some hype leading up to the release. In todays blog, I include a list of all the new features, modes, and enhancements that EA sports has released thus far. Some will described generically as just “enhanced graphics,” and others will be explanations of new aspects of the game that require explanation.
The Madden NFL team reworked the game’s exposure system to create better lighting and colors in all weather conditions. Improvements have also been made to the game’s stadium night lighting, as well as ambient lighting.
Characters are now fully reflective, and will reflect light bounced from the environment itself. This creates richer, more realistic lighting that brings player/material details to life like never before.
The playing field itself comes to life in Madden NFL 15 with 3D-enabled grass during gameplay. In past versions, grass was merely a texture. This year, the game now features full “infinite grass” technology.
Heavy improvements have been made to player and coach likeness thanks to player scanning. Upgrades have been made to player and coach heads, as well as Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos.
Authentic NFL-Style Broadcast
Former NFL Films Senior Cinematographer Brian Murray serves as Presentation Director of Madden NFL 15, and his goal was to shoot Madden like an authentic broadcast. Scripted celebrations and on-field moments have been phased out to allow for emotional moments to be shown with variety and energy. Players now celebrate big plays (even by their teammates) with organic, unscripted excitement.
The improvements are also evident with polished transitions coming in and out of timeouts. Quarterbacks can now jog towards the sideline while music plays, just like you’d see on TV heading into a commercial break.
New Broadcast Elements
The Madden development team placed a heavy emphasis on broadcast banners, and tying new commentary back to them. Every banner in the game has been retouched to reflect the look and feel of an authentic NFL broadcast, and players will see a variety of new broadcast wipes that provide context to in-game performances.
A refined drop-down system will provide consistent updates on player performances. These additions help provide context to games in Connected Franchise mode, making them feel like a living, breathing season. Pregame and halftime banners tie together events from the season, including new Playoff Chase and Divisional Standings banners.
Real NFL Jumbotrons
Gone are the days of generic “LOSE LOSE LOSE” messages on Madden NFL scoreboards. Madden NFL 15 features authentic jumbotrons messaging and imagery from a number of NFL teams, displaying more than 20 events including touchdowns and crowd cues (get loud on defense, be quiet on offense).
This new treatment is extended to Super Bowls as well, giving them a more “neutral” feel. Super Bowl scoreboard images are no longer be subject to the game’s home team. Instead, the winner now sees their team’s logo alongside the Lombardi Trophy.
Player Spotlight Montages
New broadcast banners and montages tell dynamic stories about how players are performing, making every game feel fresh. If a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III is making big plays with their legs, gamers may see a montage of some of their biggest runs. If a pass rush is making life difficult on an opposing quarterback, you might see a few of their biggest plays. It’s all about telling a story.
Madden NFL 15 features more than 80 hours of new commentary between play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and color commentator Phil Simms. Some of the recording focused primarily on player names, so that Jim and Phil will call out more names during and after the play.
Jim Nantz has re-recorded much of his mid-play commentary so that it fits more comfortable with the rest of his dialogue. This results in a smoother, more cohesive broadcast as Jim calls out the action on the field.
Pregame and Halftime
Local sports director Larry Ridley leads an all-new intro sequence before games, calling out specific matchups and other tidbits to keep an eye on during the game. The halftime show also includes broadcast-style graphics, as well as a fantasy ticker with player stats on the bottom of the screen.
During halftime, Larry will also break down some of the game’s highlights with all-new audio recordings.
Call Plays With Confidence
Players can leverage data from millions of online games with all-new crowd-sourced play recommendations.
For example, if Madden NFL players like spreading the field with four wide receivers on third down, you’ll see some of the plays that get called most often, as well as their success rates.
The improved game-flow system is not just limited to community success, but also opponent tendencies. This new data results in better suggestions than in years past, and replaces the “Ask Madden” feature.
Knowledge is Power
Madden NFL 15’s new playcalling also tracks how often you call certain plays over the course of your career, as well as how successful the plays are.
The “Previous Play” widget also shows you how well the plays are being executed compared to the rest of the Madden community.
Plays by Concept
Looking to exploit your speed on the outside? Are your receivers tough to press off the line? Then call plays based on concepts like streaks, fades, and slants in order to capitalize on your personnel.
If you’re looking to dial up Dez Bryant in the red zone, then check out the fade concept and get him a touchdown. If your opponent can’t hang with the savvy of Wes Welker, perhaps double move and slant concepts are your best bet.
Player Sense 2.0
Zone/Man Coverage Improvements
Zone Coverage ratings now have a bigger impact on how quickly defenders break on throws. Defenders with higher ratings in Zone Coverage will react much quicker to throws.
Defenses are now smarter when it comes to going for a swat vs. an interception or a tackle. This improved logic will be broken down by player traits.
Improvements have also been made to zone defenders responsible for the flats. Some things to look out for include smarter principles (no more out route abuse!), improved head tracking on all players, increases in press and chuck interactions between DBs and wide receivers, as well as better pursuit and tackling ability.
Man Coverage ratings have also been tweaked to impact how much separation receivers are able to get on cuts in their routes, resulting in improved behavior of the defender.
New to Madden NFL 15 is the addition of disguised defenses, where opposing secondaries will show you one coverage but give another.
Real AI 2.0
The Madden development team continues to improve the decision-making of computer-controlled players. Thanks to Real AI 2.0, computer quarterbacks understand different passing concepts, and will read defenders before making correct throws. They’ll also audible and call hot routes based on Real AI, and also have improved logic for handling pressure in the pocket.
The computer now makes the same types of decisions that a skilled user would make. One improvement is CPU Fake Snap, which attempts to draw players offside more than in previous versions of Madden NFL.
War in the Trenches 2.0
The improvements are obvious before the ball is even snapped, as new animations replicate the pre-play behavior of an NFL line of scrimmage. Each position group has their unique set of fidget animations to prepare them for the snap of the ball.
Power Pass Rush
In Madden NFL 15, Players can now trigger power pass rush moves by pressing the X/Square buttons while engaged with a blocker. These moves used to be triggered by flicking the R-Stick, which sometimes felt unresponsiveness. With the new controls, players will have more control and ability to get off blocks. Use these moves with powerful linemen like J.J. Watt, Chris Long and Julius Peppers.
Finesse Pass Rush
Power pass rushers aren’t the only guys getting love, as finesse pass rush moves have also been improved. Players can now press the A/X buttons while engaged to trigger finesse pass rush moves from players such as Cameron Wake and Brian Orakpo.
Off the Line
Some of the NFL’s best pass rushers like Robert Quinn, Robert Mathis, and Von Miller use their quick first step to get off the ball and gain an advantage by timing the snap. That’s now possible in Madden NFL 15, as players can make successful (or unsuccessful) speed rush moves by pressing RT at the correct time during the snap. However, mistiming the move will result in a slow first step and a win for the blocker, or even an offsides penalty.
Disengage and Contain
Contain the scrambling abilities of quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick by keeping them in the pocket and getting off blocks when they try to leave the pocket. New QB Contain pass rush logic and animations have been added so that defenders will pressure the quarterback while keeping the outside of the pocket contained.
Pass rushers can now easily disengage by pressing A/X while moving the L-Stick away from the blocker. Playing defense offers much more control and responsiveness when attempting to get off blocks.
Catch Variety and Pass Inaccuracy
In past versions of Madden NFL, any quarterback could consistently shred an opposing defense with accurate passes. But in Madden NFL 15, the quarterback accuracy rating (THA), situation, and scenario have never been more important.
QBs now throw a number of inaccurate passes determined by their accuracy ratings and pocket pressure, with the level of accuracy ranging from “very inaccurate” to “perfect.” As in the real NFL, there’s a much higher chance of being inaccurate when under pressure.
When building your offensive strategy, be sure to consult your quarterback’s three accuracy ratings: THA Short, THA Mid and THP Deep. Accurate throwers like Philip Rivers and Drew Brees will be able to pinpoint their throws more effectively than less accurate quarterbacks like Geno Smith and Eli Manning.
The effectiveness of mobile quarterbacks has also been tuned to allow for greater ability to throw on the run. In previous version of Madden, throwing on the run came at a heavy cost. This year, players will have more ability to take advantage of their quarterback’s athleticism outside of the pocket.
New in Madden 15 is increased catch variety. Players will now see both wide receivers and defensive backs make efforts to go after inaccurate passes.
If you put too much air on a curl route, you’ll now see your receiver leap in an attempt to catch the overthrown ball, rather than just stand there and let the ball sail over his head.
These varied animations are available for both wideouts and defenders, so be sure to put the ball on target.