E3 2015: Catching Up With Madden NFL 16

It’s a new year, and like every year since 1988, the annual football game juggernaut Madden NFL has another iteration to play out on the gridiron. Following the “usual” naming convention, this one is titled Madden NFL 16. Highly criticized for being just another 60-dollar roster-update, the team at EA Sports does work hard to add new features every year, and this year at E3 we were given a chance to see what the team spent their time working on since the release of its predecessor.

This year at E3, EA Sports has brought a new feature to the game called Draft Champions, in which you have 15 rounds to build a team and see how far you can take them. Connected Franchise Mode has been extended further as well, giving more depth to the draft, free-agency, and skill progression or training camp portions of that mode.

The television presentation is expanded once again, with updated stadiums that look exactly as they are built, and stadium sounds that an NFL connoisseur can expect to hear. In addition, surprisingly for the first time ever in a Madden game, female fans will be in the stands, as well as fans with foam fingers, waving towels, and other props to show off their team spirit. 85-95% of the league has been face and body scanned, so almost all players will look like they do in real life. More player animations have been added and like in the real game, players can get heated with each other and start yelling and shoving each other after a hard-fought play.

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Perhaps the biggest on-the-field adjustment for this year was the update to the catching system. In previous years there was only one way to catch the ball, now, there will be three ways to catch. After the QB releases the ball, players can press a button to perform a “RAC” catch (Run-After-Catch) where the receiver will turn and run up field after making a catch, an Aggressive Catch where they can jump up and fight the defense for the catch, and the Possession Catch which will be the normal type of catch, but the player will try to ensure they are in-bounds, and have legitimately caught the ball. In addition to this, there are also new Deep Shot plays to choose from when your team gets into a desperate situation and you want to pull off a miracle play.

On the other side of the field, the defense has not been forgotten, as EA Sports has included more defensive tools, there are contained defenses primarily employed against scrambling quarterbacks, and the QB spy mechanic has been updated to help defend against a QB inclined to leave the pocket as well. If a QB does scramble out of the pocket “On The Run” will appear in bright red letters letting you know it’s time to take him down, but he can opt to throw on a roll-out or bootleg if he hasn’t passed the line of scrimmage, so your secondary better be ready as well.

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The NFL’s new field goal rules have also been added into this year’s game, with the point after a touchdown being pushed further back, giving teams more incentive to pull a 2-point conversion from the 2 yard line instead.

Madden 16 will be out on August 25, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.