Madden NFL 17 marks the fourth edition of the American football series to arrive on PS4 and Xbox One, with a release date of August 23. (It’s also bound for PS3 and Xbox 360 on the same date.) Surprisingly, there was no cover vote – after missing out last year, Madden NFL 17’s cover star will be Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. Its developer is EA Tiburon, where I recently became the first ever UK journalist allowed . Below are more details of Madden NFL 17’s ratings, gameplay, features – some of which made your earlier this year – and changes to franchise mode.
The official Madden NFL 17 trailer (above) shows off new running back moves and kick blocks, and provides a brief listen to the new commentary team of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis.
Running back moves are the big improvement on the offensive front. The game works harder to differentiate power backs from speedy ones – you can even turn on special move prompts that tell you when to truck with a 230-lb behemoth, or spin with a Darren Sproles-like scatback. ‘Tackle battles’ enable you to fight for extra yardage, and there’s a toggle-able assist which recommends a ball carrier’s path dependent on the blocking ahead of him.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, defensive play is improved via realistic gap assignments. Linebackers now look for offensive line holes through which they can attack a quarterback or ball carrier, and react accordingly. Special teams play has been much improved via a new kicking mechanic – which harks back to not only the Madden games of the Mega Drive era, but PGA Golf too – and the fact you can genuinely block punts and field goal attempts. (At long, long last.)
At last, at last, at last. Having long been a frustrating afterthought, EA has listened to fan feedback and introduced multiple changes to franchise mode. Finally ten-player practise squads are in, enabling you to add talented prospects to your squad without taking up a roster spot. Weekly game planning provides a means to test plays out against your upcoming opponents’ favourite formations, and you can save time throughout a season by playing key moments rather than entire matches. The new in-game ticker, updating you on scores from around the league as you play, sees a long overdue return too.
Player attributes are one of the most hotly debated elements of Madden every year, and this time around Tiburon has been harsher on its top quarterbacks than in Madden 16. Only Aaron Rodgers (96) has an overall of more than 95. Rounding out the top five signal-callers are Cam Newton (94), Tom Brady (94), Ben Roethlisberger (93), and Russell Wilson (91). The top rookie ratings are Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey with 82, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott with 80, and five players on 79: Ronnie Stanley (Ravens), Roberto Aguayo (Buccaneers), Joey Bosa (Chargers), Laremy Tunsil (Dolphins), and Jack Conklin (Titans).
It won’t be possible to confirm this until review stage, but the developer says Madden NFL 17’s presentation is sharper than ever, with 900 new ‘scriptables’ between plays – and new commentary team Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis adding two hours of additional voice work every week post-release. A feature I loved is the seamlessness of fast-forwarding to the next play; you now hold A on Xbox/X on PS4 to skip scenes or replays you’re not keen on watching, with the commentators occasionally making quips about it. The new Pylon Cam, giving an on-the-goalline view of touchdowns, is a neat addition too.
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