E3 2017: Madden Has No Where Else to Go but Story

The opening moments of EA Play not only saw a drum line, but also something most Madden fans probably weren’t expecting, story. Gripping story. That’s right, Madden 18 Longshot (the first thing shown) is taking cues from the likes of Hollywood and going the full “Friday Night Lights” route. A standalone story mode from the standard career path Madden games have taken in the past. Does it need this injection of Hollywood sparkle though to make it shine?

If you’ve seen a sports movie, it’s a safe bet to say you’ve seen them all. Hell, watching a sports movie isn’t even required to understand the tale of a team, or single underdog, rising up and reaching for glory. Watch actual sports, it will happen in real time. And while, yes, movies have even moved to the failure route, it doesn’t really change things too much. Madden 18 Longshot not only hopes to bring an excellent story of a black youth overcoming the many challenges he faces daily but also something unique to the Madden experience.

Madden Longshot is the story of Devin Wade, and Devin, is like all those sparkly eyed stars seen in…again, any Hollywood sports film ever. It’s not do dismiss the stories that Hollywood tells again and again or what is being reflected upon, it just might not be the injection Madden needs. At the end of the day, players aren’t playing so they can get one underdog into the NFL. They are playing to be the team. Be the coach. Be the champions they root for every year in the real world of the NFL. EA even showed the people who play Madden competitively in a clip during the event. Longshot is touching on many (myself included) childhood dreams of becoming a sports star, it just isn’t resonating. It’s confusing as to whether this is something new and different for the series, or a thing that’s a one trick pony designed at getting players old/new back to the franchise.

The immediate question it raises is, what will they do next year? Another story? Where do you pivot after trying this, Madden? The story might be excellent. It’s tackling things that are relevant. It might touch that human element it’s hoping to catch. Literally having Hollywood injected into this game isn’t a bad move either. EA did hire Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, after all. It has all the makings of an excellent tale that is heroic in a way that is honest. Having a story for the next few seasons though will get old faster than this already familiar narrative.

This isn’t the first game EA has added the story sprinkling to, but it is a drastically different way of telling the story. The player isn’t trying to have Devin crush through an NFL Career, it’s about having Devin try and get to the NFL. My excitement is real, having grown up in Texas, Football is just sort-of a thing. It hit’s home for me. Having a game place the player in the roll of one of these characters, I don’t know if it will hit the same notes.