Fully appreciating Madden NFL 17 means acknowledging its recent past. Of the many changes EA Sports is bringing this year, the most notable improvement is a newcomer-friendly running game. It’s seen as the final iteration of a multi-year campaign to make the series more accessible. This started when defense was branded as a deceptively fun feature in Madden 15 and then with a hint-driven receiving game last year. Madden NFL 17 looks to preserve the same look and feel as running backs and other ball carriers will also benefit from a similar tips system. Now ball carriers have visual cues, telling you where you’ll end up, given your current trajectory. This is not to be confused with a hint system that advises you where you should go. This approach is to train novices on the fine art of threading the needle in football, to find the sought after holes that your blockers open up. In the Rookie and Pro difficulties, you don’t even have to hit a button at all when you’re running; your running back will autospin and autojuke on his own.
It’s been EA Sports’ plan to make Madden NFL 17 one of the most approachable installments in the series. “It’s absolutely a conscious decision,” explained executive producer Seann Graddy. “One of the things we hear consistently is that Madden is a hard game to get into. The knowledge and culture of football is intimidating to many. It is also a chess match. There’s the difficulty of the UI, the mechanics, and snapping of the ball. Over time you’ll gain the muscle memory so you won’t have to rely on these guides and prompts.The goal is to open up running to people who are too comfortable with the passing game.”
For concerned experts and purists, these training wheels won’t affect All Madden difficulty. In the keeping with the flexibility of the game overall, you can still have a fully manual experience. For instance, you can still master the three speed tiers of the spin move: when you’re sprinting, breaking, and breaking while holding the trigger. Competition level players will have full creative control.
As a side, EA Sports continues to fine tune Madden’s presentation, keeping former NFL Films producer Brian Murray to maintain the franchise’s broadcast TV visual qualities. Along with a new pylon camera and zooms to catch toe taps at the endzone, there’s a multi target camera to catch key events. Imagine watching a post-play video of a sack, starting from the linebacker and panning to unfortunate quarterback. The beauty of games is that EA Sports can transcend traditional television, namely with enhanced replays and augmented UI. Expect post-play cutaways to have the flash of trailers and sizzle reels. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a cyclical response from TV networks in a couple years when they emulate these in-game effects.