EA Sports Shares Early Details and Screens for Madden NFL 17

By Mark Delaney, 5 months ago
For all the talk of how sports games are too similar year to year with no major game improvements, Madden NFL 16 was actually praised by many for its attention on the passing game on both sides of the ball. Receivers and defensivebacks were able to put their talents head to head where the best player was often the one coming out on top. It paid to have elite talent at the wideout spot in Madden 16, knowing you could, as Randy Moss once said, "just throw it up there" and they'd go get it.

This August, like clockwork, Madden NFL 17 will hit stores. Today EA Sports is sharing some of the early details on what new features the game will bring. Old school fans of the ground-and-pound playbook will appreciate the attention being given to the rushing offense as well as run defense.

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Madden 17 will focus heavily on the many types of ballcarriers in the league, and giving them the proper skill sets, which means including what their real life counterparts do well, while also lessening the effectiveness of what they do poorly. Bruising backs that may like to run people over and stiff arm them, like Chris Ivory and Eddie Lacy, will now feel more at home when you're using those moves. Similarly, speedy backs like Jamaal Charles and Devonta Freeman may instead want to utilize spin and juke moves. This has, to an extent, always been the case for Madden, but a renewed focus on player ratings as well as new ballcarrier moves -- for not just RBs but WRs and TEs too -- are being implemented that really open up the options players will have when their stars have the ball in their hands.

New fakeout animations are coming, too, so when you take an all-NFL talent like Adrian Peterson and juke the defender out of his shoes, it will feel more satisfying than ever, says EA. There are now four types of special move, building on the precision modifier enhancements that came a few years ago. Standard moves are simply when the player presses the corresponding button to the move of their choice. These expend the base stamina but are also more timing dependent. They can fake out up to two defenders at a time. Speed modifiers (cn_RT + action button) are quick moves that won't take the ballcarrier off of their current running lane, but if used with quick, agile players, can be very effective. They offer the lowest risk for stamina, injury, and fumbling, but you'll want to use them only with players that fit the mold. They can fake out one defender at a time. Precision modifiers (cn_LT + action button) are back, too. These are the longer and more explosive, not to mention visually satisfying, maneuvers that expend the most energy and put you at greatest risk for fumbling or injury. These moves can fake out "multiple" defenders at once. Lastly, steerable utility moves (cn_LT + cn_RT + action button) allow players to toy with the defenders' angle of pursuit by performing moves that can be steered. Only spins, jukes, back jukes, and trucking moves can be steered, therefore hurdling and stiff arms are excluded. These can be very handy when you've got just that one last defender to beat en route to the end zone.

Another new feature is tackle battling. When a defender and player collide and progress is halted momentarily, a quick-time event will allow the player with the fastest reaction to hit the correct single button press to either make or break the tackle. This feature is reminiscent of the fight for the fumble feature seen back in the series a half decade ago. Once again, stats come in to play greatly here, as a bruising back, like Legarrette Blount, is more likely to be given the chance at a tackle battle than a smaller back or wideout like Desean Jackson.

New visual feedback is coming in the way of ballcarrier running lanes, suggested special moves, and a ball carrier threat cone, similar to the tackling cone, are all being introduced to the HUD. You can, of course, deactivate these features in the settings and only on the two lowest difficulties can you use suggested special moves feedback, anyway.

On the defensive side of the ball, more attention is being placed on getting your defense in the right place pre-snap. Now, when the offense flips its formation, your defense will automatically do the same, to properly align the players. This is something the AI has long done against human players, and now we too can benefit from such a feature. This can also be turned off in the settings for those that prefer to figure it out for themselves.

Pre-snap gap assignments will now be made clearer, too, so you aren't caught out of position once the ball is in play. Not only are gaps now being assigned to AI and visualized for players, but there now comes a range of different techniques that players feature that inform how they will play their gap. Force players cover the outside and try to force the ballcarrier back inside to the mess of the trenches where he can be contained. Cutback players are the opposite of Force players. His job is to play conservatively in the event that the ballcarrier cuts outside. It'll be crucial for either position to have the right talents in place in order to be effective. Like with offensive special moves, the player ratings are now going to matter more in this regard. Fill players are those who aren't Force, Cutback, or blitzing. Their job is to hold their spot, close lanes, and collapse the pocket to create chaos for the opposing offense. Jet players, naturally, are blitzers. Their job is to find a way through all that chaos and rush the passer. A Crack-Replace player is one who steps into the role of the Force gap player if and when he gets blocked by a TE, WR, or pulling lineman on the edge. EA Sports stressed the importance of playcalling if you want to put a Crack-Replace player to use. ...if you are in a defense where the Force player is on an island, you won’t get the benefit of having a crack-replace player. So again, we’ll emphasize that the play you call matters!For the first time ever, 2-Gap defenders will be in use in Madden. These players are assigned to a block straight up, but play the blocker in such a way where he can make a ruling on which way to shed the block. These players are most important on runs up the middle. Choose the wrong path, or have a mediocre defending AI do it for you, and you might just create the lane you were trying to close. Most commonly, these players are found in 3-4 alignments with nosetackles.

This is just the first of what should be several updates this summer as we approach NFL and Madden season. Look for more in the coming weeks, and undoubtedly at the EA Play event during E3 week.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a lifelong gamer and current Assistant (to the) News Manager on TA. When not playing games, he can be found cheering for a bad football team, playing Batman action figures with his son, or going to concerts with his lover. Days where he does all of those things are his favorite.