Every annual release faces the same problem of deciding where to make small enhancements and where wholesale changes are needed. With Madden NFL 19, EA Sports has definitely taken a delicate approach.
Fans likely noticed the publisher wasn’t pushing any major additions to this year’s installment in the marketing. There’s a good reason for that and it is largely because not all that much has changed. If you played Madden 18, then you are going to be very familiar with everything here.
Additions and Upgrades
But, there have been some minor additions that hardcore players have wanted for some time. The ability to set substitutes for specialist positions such as half back and slot receiver is something that has been long requested. It removes the need to scroll through multiple screens every time you want to assign a new player to a position.
Ultimate Team and Franchise Mode have been shaken up a bit as well. Now you put experience points into traits and let the player level-up themselves rather than having to micromanage it all.
Meanwhile, Ultimate Team has trainer cards that allow you to gradually improve players. Applying these cards is a more natural approach to making your team better as it keeps your roster while training individuals to take them to their best possible versions. Although far from groundbreaking, they do make playing feel more organic. They also help you get more invested in the athletes that make up your squad.
Ultimate Team has also delivered new modes for players to get their teeth into. Solo Battles mode works pretty much the same as head-to-head seasons but lets you face off against specific CPU controlled teams. You can even play MUT Squads directly against the CPU rather than real-life players.
The only downside is that all the new content is single-player focused, meaning there is nothing new here for those who enjoy stacking up against the best online. Yet, Madden NFL 19 does make Ultimate Team feel more rewarding and gives more ways to boost your coins so you have even less reason to spend actual cash.
Then, there are the visuals. Madden 19 is not just the best-looking NFL game but it is arguably the most authentic-looking sports game ever made.
The renders of the players, field of play, and the surrounding stadiums all look fantastic. The attention to detail is unrivaled, to the point it is even possible to spot reflections in the helmets of opposing players.
Animations have also seen some noticeable love and attention from EA. Catching the ball, dropping a pass, and tackling opposition players come with an extra layer of realism. A lot of the on-field action looks far smoother than it has in recent iterations. The real-player motion also helps to make plays feel physical and genuine, an important feature in sports games that are all about quick moves and physical battles.
But that isn’t to say everything is perfectly animated. When there is some bad animation, it stands out all the more due to the rest of the game looking so good.
The most prominent problem is that players can get stuck in other players on the ground, something that breaks the immersion in the middle of a match.
The rest of the presentation isn’t up to scratch with the visuals either. This is most obvious in the commentary, which has appeared to just copy-and-paste huge swathes from Madden 18. You hear certain stories from the commentary team all the time and it becomes infuriating very quickly.
Longshot Mode returns for the second year here and brings back the characters of Devin Wade and Colt Cruise.
Whereas last year’s Longshot chapter was a promising addition that showed plenty of potential, Madden 19 has done its best to sour the mode completely. The writing is poor and the entire story quickly descends into trying-but-failing to be funny until it resembles nothing more than a silly movie or television special.
There’s nothing here worth playing and even the branching dialogue choices have been removed. You now just move along with the plot.
The only good thing that can be said about Longshot is that it has solid voice acting. But that is nowhere near enough to redeem it. Honestly, I don’t think many people would be all that bothered to see the mode disappear altogether if this is the best EA can do.
If you were expecting a revolution with Madden 19, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Nothing in the game is innovative. The best parts are the little changes to the gameplay and existing modes that just make everything slightly better.
With Longshot proving to be a huge letdown, casual fans might be better off sticking with Madden 18. However, more fervent players will want to experience the new cut moves, more complex substitutions, and the Ultimate Team components that have been improved.