In the wake of the numerous disappointments in Madden 13, I’ve decided to compile a list of 40 things that I hate about Madden and need to be corrected if the game is to improve. Many of these are my own thoughts but I borrowed some from others in order to make one comprehensive list for EA to consult if they want to make a better game next year. I plan on sending this list to EA and posting it in numerous places in the hopes it gets read by someone of importance at EA. Feel free to comment what you think and add anything that is missing. Let’s make sure our voices are heard by EA... As the only NFL game available, this is unacceptable. (Note: I provided examples where applicable and anytime a button or controller is mentioned it is in reference to Xbox 360... sorry PS3ers and Wiiers)
Constructive Criticism Pertaining to Franchise Mode (Connected Careers)
1. The cursor snaps to the left after sorting a stats column. For instance, if I’m interested in the fastest WR available, I sort the speed column but immediately the cursor snaps to the left to the names of the players. I don’t want to know the players’ names at this point; I want to stay in the speed column.
2. There is no simulate week or simulate season option during the Connected Career’s mode. In order to simulate, one has to individually simulate every single event. This is such a waste of time and really frustrating when one wants to jump to year two of the franchise.
3. Similarly, there are two different simulate buttons. Simulating games is X and acknowledging a weekly goal or milestone is A. Meaning that not only cannot simulate through these tedious individual events but you have to press different buttons for each.
4. Multiple users should be able to play franchise mode together on the same console. A lot of people, myself included, enjoy starting a franchise with a friend, each of us controlling a team or at the very least when a friend comes over they can jump in and participate. There is no reason why two players should not be allowed to play on the same console together. It is a free country so stop making unnecessary and illogical restrictions such as this.
5. Users should be allowed to edit players. Editing ratings is not what I’m talking about here because I never did that anyways (but once again, why restrict someone who wants to do so?). What I’m talking about is the ability to switch positions. As any reasonable football fan would know (which really makes me doubt that there are any reasonable football fans working at EA), defences change schemes requiring players to switch positions. 4-3 defensive ends become 3-4 outside linebackers all the time in the real NFL. Users should be allowed to do so in Madden. If someone is making a defensive scheme switch, they need to switch players’ positions. This could be taken one step further in the offseason allowing for the coach to tell certain players to bulk up or lose weight depending on their position.
6. Also, it was enjoyable being able to modify a player’s appearance. If I want all of my players wearing dark visors, I should be allowed to do so. Speaking of editing players’ appearances, I haven’t discovered how to do so in Player Mode in Connected Careers. If this is in fact the case, I’m embarrassed that was overlooked.
7. Once again the commentary leads a lot to be desired. Despite the obvious complaints of it being repetitive (which I understand is the nature of the game) sometimes they are downright wrong. In a franchise mode where I was playing as the Rams, a few years had passed and I had traded Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson. Sure enough, Jim Nantz continues to bring up Bradford and Jackson and their impact on the outcome of the game despite the fact that they aren’t even on the team. Issues like that need to be fixed.
8. Fantasy draft needs to come back to offline franchise mode. Congratulations for listening to the thousands of upset fans over the removal of fantasy draft and adding it online but more needs to be done. Many people don’t have online accessibility and it’s not fair that they don’t get the ability to do a fantasy draft. Also, when the fantasy draft was first added, I got booted from EA’s servers about ten times until I finally gave up before getting to round 8. I want to be able to do an offline fantasy draft so that my experience is not dependent on my online connection. Fantasy drafts add a lot to the Madden experience for thousands of players and there is no reason it should be omitted. If some people do not like it, that’s fine. They don’t have to use it but for those that really enjoy it, it needs to be an option.
9. Similarly, 45 seconds is way too short of time to make a pick in fantasy drafts. I don’t even know what the advantage of having it so short would be (maybe since EA’s servers were performing so badly with the overload of people interested in doing a fantasy draft that EA brilliantly decided to make all of the drafts end sooner). If anything, picks should have an unlimited amount of time because, really, what difference does it make? People should be given the opportunity to choose the player they want because that’s the whole point of a fantasy draft. I barely have enough time to switch to the position I’m interested in and check who is available in 45 seconds and if there isn’t anyone available at the first position I checked, there’s is no way there’s enough time to check another. I was auto-picked many times frantically trying to find an available player to the point that I would just choose the first guy that caught my eye at the top of the list.
10. Also, having the announcer read out “Green Bay is on the clock!”, “Tampa Bay is up!”, “It’s the Browns turn to pick!”, “*. Louis is on the clock!” while simulating is so annoying and pointless. Yes, I think we all understand that a lot of teams are picking during the simulation. I don’t need to hear a little comment about each one as they spend two seconds picking. I’ll assume this is due to the rushed nature of adding a fantasy draft back into the game.
11. Trading needs to be improved in franchise mode. There needs to an effective trade block option similar to NBA2K12. For instance, in NBA2K12, the user selects a few players or picks that they want to trade and instantly receives offers from a lot of teams in the league. Sure, some of the deals aren’t worth it but at least you’re given the option to choose and shop around. This is reflective of the way things actually work in the business since most teams send offers all the time to explore their options. Currently, it takes so much effort to make one deal successful that there is almost no possibility of finding a second deal to compare it to. Having an effective trade block system would allow users to see potential deals and choose what they’re interested in. Make the computer do most of the work of evaluating what they need rather than the user. Nothing is worst than spending an hour trying to guess what the computer wants because most of the time, they’re turning down great deals anyways. Eliminate the tedious effort of trying to make a trade and instead present multiple options for the user to choose from and save them time and effort.
12. Free agency is done poorly in this Madden as well with the exception of visually presenting the other teams bidding against each other for a player which is a good idea. The live bidding in Madden 12 was at least interactive and had some excitement. The free agency in Madden 13 is poorly laid out and poorly thought out like many of the other issues with the franchise mode in this game. Once an offer is submitted, and maybe increased depending on the situation, it does not explicitly say if the player accepted. The only way is to check the depth chart or roster and see if they’re on the team. This is really silly in my opinion since it would be so easy to present a notification stating that the player signed.
13. Scouting was one area that was improved this year. Allowing points to be spent on individual stats is a good idea. One thing that could improve it is allow all of a stat to be bought for a positional group. For instance, if I want to scout all of the catch ratings for all of the WR’s it would be better to have a one click option than individually going through each player. No one likes tedious tasks in a videogame.
14. The draft itself could be improved. Having a green room with some of the top projected players shown and then brought on stage would add to the realism. Having mock drafts to get a feel for when certain players might get picked by certain teams would be helpful as well. Trading up and trading down was a nice addition but once again, adding a more computer based trading system would be better. To trade up the computer should initiate the offer for you and allow you to haggle from there. Going into a trade blindly with only one chance to make an offer and hope it works is frustrating and unrealistic.
15. Depth charts should be enhanced to reflect actual substitution packages in the real NFL. Having a Short Yardage RB or a Redzone WR or a or an Outside RB or a Passing Down TE or a Nose Tackle or a Nickel Linebacker allows for substitutions for specific formations or situations better. You might not want Michael Turner as your primary Third Down RB but you might if it’s third and inches. At the very least, there should be an option to save substitutions. Similarly, Jon Condo is a Pro Bowl Long Snapper for the Raiders is rated a 39 as a TE, the lowest rating for any player at shipping. His position is a LS and he has no value as a TE so his position should be a LS and rated appropriately as a Pro Bowler.
16. Speaking of the offseason, why is there only league MVP and Coach of the Year awards? Come on, this is a clear lack of effort on EA’s part. In the NFL, the Associated Press awards Best Offensive Player of the Year, Best Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Comeback Player of the Year. Once again, are there any fans of the NFL working at EA? Seriously, did no one notice the lack of 5 out of the 7 yearly awards? That’s over 70% of the yearly awards missing. This is not a hard thing to include in the game and the only explanation I can come up with is laziness and cheapness on the part of EA.
17. Creating plays, modifying a playbook, changing schemes and setting audibles were great features and should be brought back. Similarly, creating a team and stadium, and managing the stadium, should be brought back as well. None of these are difficult to include but take away a lot when removed.
18. The weekly goals in Player Mode in Connected Careers are repetitive and poorly thought out. When playing as a QB the weekly goals are always 23 completions, 3 passing TD’s and 250 yards passing. Unfortunately this creates a very unbalanced and biased way of playing the game. As a QB trying to gather as much stingy experience as possible, I completely abandon the rushing game. What’s the point of rushing the ball when I need completions, yards and TD’s. A simple solution would be to reward offensive TD’s, first downs and winning the game. You know, things that actually matter for a good QB. I never even attempt rushing touchdowns because I need 3 passing TD’s every game. Same goes for rushing the ball in general. Also, the goals are the same every week. How hard is it to come up with 10-15 goals and randomly rotate them? How about do not commit a turnover, complete a pass to seven different receivers, score a rushing touchdown, win the game, get ten first downs, convert more than half of third downs or throw a touchdown pass longer than 50 yards. I came up with all of those in less than two minutes. The fact that no one at EA bothered to do so demonstrates a lack of effort and a lack of care.
19. This next frustration might be the most pathetic of them all and the most telling for how much EA values profits over game experience. THERE IS ONE SONG ON THE SOUNDTRACK. I remember when Madden used to be an opportunity to discover new music and hear some great tracks for the first time. It’s astounding how far Madden has fallen since those days. Now, rather than pay for songs written by actual artists, EA paid a random composer to write an annoying marching band sounding song. But, instead of paying him to write a few songs for the soundtrack, EA brilliantly decided to get him to write one song. One song to listen to over and over and over and over and over and over again. Where is the logic in that? Oh wait it obviously is related to profits for EA. To summarize, rather than pay for new songs by real artists (or even old songs by real artists which is what Madden started to do to save money) they paid a random composer to write ONE song and force the player to listen to it thousands of times. This is probably the worst of the complaints because it shows such a clear priority of profits over game experience. Shame EA, shame.
20. Offensive and defensive coordinators should be able to be hired and fired during the offseason. Once again this was something in Madden previously that has since been taken out without cause. Coordinators should be able to improve scouting and development of certain positions as well, similar to the real NFL.
21. No one likes when a player holds out, but they do and Madden should reflect this. Players that heavily out-perform their peers in a season yet are being paid significantly less for their given position should holdout and force contract negotiations.
Constructive Criticism Pertaining to Gameplay
22. Players fall down so often after the play ends. I understand there are going to be some glitches with the new graphics engine but come on. It’s as if someone mistakenly checked off the “ice rink” box instead of “grass field”. The graphics and physics are supposed to be more realistic but I have never seen so many physics-defying moments. Players graze ankles and both are all of a sudden in a heap rolling around on the ground. I’m not an NFL player but even I have better balance and coordination than that.
23. Similarly, blocking feels very “sticky” and not at all reflective of real physics or momentum. First of all it is very awkward and unintuitive playing as a defensive lineman a lot of the time but beyond that there are a few things that make absolutely no sense. Once a defensive lineman breaks through and gets past the offensive lineman and is steam rolling downfield towards the QB there is no reason (or even explanation in physics) as to why he would suddenly stop and spin around and re-engage the offensive lineman. The only way this would happen in real life would be holding. The defensive lineman is trying to get to the QB and his momentum is taking him that way so it is completely unrealistic and frustrating when he gets sucked back to an offensive lineman with a grip like Spiderman. On the same note, one time I bull rushed a guard to the ground and he proceeded to roll onto his back and then Matrix-style regain his feet and continue to block me. Unless his hamstrings are steel cables wrenching him back upright, there is nothing realistic about those physics.
24. Bring back live hot routes. Being able to tap up on the right stick (or some other control) and send a WR deep on a busted play was a cool feature added to Madden years ago but was removed (big surprise there).
25. Injuries should make sense based on the play. There is nothing logical about a player that never hits his head to have a concussion. I understand that injuries can be freak things by nature but at least make it noticeable on the play. Maybe have an ankle getting rolled or a leg getting twisted in a tackle. At least that would be realistic to determine where an injury happened.
26. There needs to be a restart button in game. Like all players, occasionally you have a rough start and throw back to back pick sixes and want to restart the game. One shouldn’t have to quit back to the menu and start the game again. Provide a restart button in game and save the additional, unneeded loading screens.
27. Weather should have more of an effect on games. Not to say it doesn’t, but particularly kicking is almost unaffected by the weather. The wind rarely seems to direct my kicks like it would in real life.
28. Another fail by EA is the in game replays. How bad are these? Usually it shows a WR running the first few steps of his route, a QB dropping back to pass and then an extended close up of a spiralling football. Once again, are there any NFL fans working at EA? What cracked out football games are they watching where after a highlight play the camera zooms in on the football spiralling for the replay and shows nothing of relevance to the play? I understand that EA is trying to create a dynamic replay system that changes camera angles but it failed. It would be better just to show a zoomed out view of the whole field then the current system (even though the close up on the football is so informative).
29. Another very simple problem that is still an issue for Madden 13 is the sidelines. When the football goes out of bounds, including the player with the ball running out of bounds, the clock stops. So many times I run a play where my player starts to get tackled inbounds and falls out of bounds and the clock keeps running. This is an ongoing issue and needs to be corrected. How hard is it to stop the clock when a player goes out of bounds? Stopping the clock by going out of bounds is a crucial part to the strategy of the game and needs to be fixed.
30. The Oakland Raiders share a stadium with the Oakland Athletics in the MLB. As such, they have a dirt diamond on their field for a portion of the year when both the NFL and MLB are going on at the same time. Even casual fans notice the dirt diamond and it once again begs the question, are there any fans of the NFL working at EA? It is an iconic field for that reason and it is too bad that EA overlooked it. Players slip more on the dirt so by including it players falling repeatedly (which they always do) would actually be more realistic. Once again, it is not that hard to include it just shows a lack of attention to detail.
31. Enough is enough. There needs to be real players on the sidelines. Enough of the generic fat guys standing around with expressionless faces. Put the real players on the team on the sideline. It’s enough that the audience is made entirely of the same 5 or 6 people wearing the same exact thing, at least the players should be unique.
32. How long is * Cancer Awareness Month? I thought it was a month but I can’t remember a game that wasn’t doused in pink.
33. A user should be allowed to save during a game. It’s not fair that you can only enjoy a game of Madden with a chunk of time at least the duration of a game. Let people save during the game so that if an emergency comes up or they only have ten minutes to play they can be accommodated.
34. The look of the crowd is static and repetitive as stated above but there is no reason why the sound of the crowd can’t be dynamic. The crowd should be chanting player’s names, chanting the team name, cheering and booing. Fans often chant for a back up QB if the starter is playing poorly and that should be in Madden as well. The crowd should reflect what the situation is. If a team needs to win to make the playoffs, the crowd should be amped up. If a team is tanking the season, the crowd should be quick to upset and turn on the team. Make the crowd reflect the situation and intensity of the game not just the same every game.
35. When a referee throws a flag, they should actually throw it. Similarly, there should be a “Discipline Rating” for a player which corresponds to how often or susceptible they are to committing penalties.
36. Laterals are obviously risky but currently in Madden they are nearly impossible to successfully do. Laterals should be difficult but if the pass is open it should have a chance for success. Similarly, long passes across the field should be possible. See the Music City Miracle.
37. QB’s while scrambling should be allowed to use the usual running with the ball moves. While holding down right trigger and scrambling, I should be able to press B to try and spin away from a guy. Instead, I falsely think I’m ahead of the line of scrimmage and end up throwing a disgusting, wobbling pass back across the field to the B receiver who is triple covered. Allowing for a QB while holding down right trigger should be able to use the normal rushing moves.
Random Constructive Criticism
38. In Play Now there are only options to play an expedition game or the Super Bowl. There should be more options than those two. Perhaps a regular season game or a playoff match up that isn’t the Super Bowl.
39. Tournament Mode should be brought back. It was fun getting a group of friends together for an afternoon and playing through a tournament together. It’s an easy game mode to include and can be really enjoyable for people.
40. This last point is one that could become an amazing feature if down properly. Fantasy football is so popular nowadays that Madden could gain a lot by catering to the fast growing market. Imagine if fantasy football was integrated into online game play. Imagine a Passing Drill style 7 vs. 7 where each team uses their starting line up in their fantasy football league. Obviously this is a work in process but fans would absolutely love to play their fantasy football team against each other in a modified game play. Obviously sounds a bit like NFL Street, which it is, but it could be done by modifying the current Passing Drill game.
I know this seems like it is a long winded rant and it truly is but I spent the time compiling all of this for the benefit of EA and future Madden games. If the developers of Madden want to make a better game that the fans will be more appreciative of, try and accommodate as many of these points as possible. I guarantee all of them will be well received by fans.