The beauty, and madness, of the modern NFL ‘off-season’ is there is no off-season. The coaching carousel, free agency, the draft, roster cuts: as soon as one season ends (congrats, Patriots fans), the next begins. And it’s the same for Madden 20. Its predecessor, Madden 19, still offers months of shelf life, but that hasn’t stopped devoted fans – and, more pertinently, critics – looking towards next year and all the Madden 20 features yet to come.
That coaching carousel is one area the Madden community wants tweaked, but it’s not the only one. Below I’ve curated the best ideas for Madden 20 features served up via fan websites, EA’s official forums, and social media, to form the ultimate virtual-Gridiron wishlist. From Ultimate Team to franchise mode, defensive playbooks to a ratings overhaul, all these changes would make an Ndamukong Suh-strong sim even stronger. Though there are some basics it needs to get right first. On which note…
1. Get the kick-off right
Let’s start at, well, the start. Incredibly the official game of the National Football League has got the beginning of every National Football League game wrong for the worst part of two decades. I’ll let redditor TheDinerIsOpen explain: “Kick-offs and coin toss [are broken], as can be seen in franchise mode and overtime of competitive modes. Defend Left and Defend Right have been outdated since Madden 03. It should simply ask if you want wind at your back or wind in your face. And you should be allowed to defer like in actual football.”
“The presets in the game settings also do not work,” he continues. “First choice and second choice can sometimes give you neither. I know this doesn’t work because I’ve manually set my first choice to receive, and my opponent has manually set their first choice to kick, and I still managed to kick the ball off first. Daily I have games where I kick-off in the second half and also have wind in my face in the 4th quarter. That should never happen.”
2. Details, details, details
Gameplay is paramount in sports games, but the true hall of famers – such as MLB The Show – always go one step beyond by delivering intricate details as well as excelling on the field/pitch/rink. More of those intangibles is a common Madden community request. “[I need to sense] the passion in the fans at home games,” writes Phillyrage on the official EA forums. “I need to feel the heat during August and September, and the freeze during December – not have camera men in shorts on the sidelines. Also, why can't there be scuffles and helmets coming off?”
The latter omission is likely to appease the actual NFL – much like the loss of the Madden ambulance – and out of EA’s control, but it’s a tidy idea. That’s echoed by Thepeanut21 at Muthead, who’s also keen to have the best bits of yesteryear games return. “Add pregame scenery, like people tailgating and cheering. Madden 11 did a good job on this. [Also] bring back create-a-team.” Not that his ideas are all resurrected ones – I love his suggestion of variable weather, too. “If it’s raining during your game, make it so that it stops at certain points then starts again,” he writes. “Not all rainy games in real life have rain for the whole game.”
3. Realistic coaching and co-ordinator hires
This is only a one-liner from the official EA forums, but it’s a great one, by Brendanhock44: “Add real offensive and defensive co-ordinators, and [an] improved coaching carousel.”
Throwback to the exceptional Madden 05 and you’ll find a game where hiring defensive and offensive co-ordinators was critical to the franchise experience, while the appointment of a new head coach to a rival felt like a literal game-changer. It never feels that way now.
Which is absurd, because the annual search for new coaches is one off the most exciting parts of that everlasting off-season. The scramble for a bright young co-ordinator or offensive mind (preferably with some kind of attachment to Bill Belichick or Sean McVay), and/or the annual will-he-won’t-he fiasco surrounding Josh McDaniels: these chases and storylines need to be reflected in game for Madden’s franchise mode to feel truly authentic.
4. Multiple position eligibility in Ultimate Team
Madden 19 Ultimate Team has been known to drive FIFA 19 junkies wild with envy over the stuff it gets right, such as upgradeable player cards. But it isn’t perfect, and one major issue is common between both sports’ card-collecting modes: position flexibility. Or the lack thereof.
“I'd like to see players who play/played multiple positions in real life have multiple positional eligibility for chemistry purposes in MUT,” writes Mikenj1000 on reddit. “Rod Woodson shouldn't lose chemistry by playing safety. He WAS a safety for part of his career. [Julius] Peppers’ card should be eligible at both defensive end AND linebacker.”
On for the subject of upgradeable cards, AliasLloyd adds a neat idea. “Remove power ups and let each card be upgraded by themselves,” he writes. “Once a card hits an OVR threshold allow them to change teams, have physical chems, etc. Also, ability and physical chems should come from a bank once purchased. If I buy gunslinger I should be able to move it around to any card I want – if I want it on two cards, then I can buy a second gunslinger chem [card].”
5. New Diamond cards [and new artwork!]
Here’s some actual Madden 20 concept work. Just a few base “diamonds” that would be in the game. 90-94 would be considered “diamond” in this concept; Elites would stop at 89. Let me know what you guys think of these designs and the overall style. 👍 pic.twitter.com/qDrYe0qh1EFebruary 7, 2019
6. The removal of ‘OVR’ ratings
Ooh, this is a good one, which would potentially transform sports games across the board.
Over to InfiniteSomethings, via reddit:
“OVR (overall) needs to be removed. It should be [called either] POT or PTN, [representing potential]. With OVR there are no questions of ‘should I start this player over this one?’ Everyone know exactly who the best players are. [Whereas] potential is what a player COULD play up to with the right scheme, team, and coach.”
This is an outstanding idea. In any team sport, athletes a tier below elite are selected because of what they bring to the overall squad or roster rather than a single arbirtrary rating. Matthew Slater’s Madden OVR is 68, yet he has three Super Bowl rings as a key member of the Patriots’ special teams unit. Removing overall ratings in this way would drive players to put together a team based on their actual tactical approach, rather than simply selecting the best players based on a mythical ‘overall’ rating.