Madden 18 is looking better with every new information release and reveal.
On Saturday, we saw an extended trailer for the new story mode called Longshot. I was blown away by the visuals, voice acting, compelling story and excited by the potential depth. Take a look for yourself.
Those positive vibes grew once I watched the deep dive on EA’s Twitch channel moments after EA Play ended. I gained a little more information after reading a revealing interview with creative director Mike Young by Games Radar’s Ben Wilson.
As a fan of the sport and gaming, it’s difficult to contain my excitement. As a critic and journalist, I’ll hold on to some skepticism until I play the retail version.
Let’s start with the positive. This game looks beautiful. You can clearly see the impact of the Frostbite Engine in the environments and player detail. When you hear people rave about the game’s beauty, this isn’t fake news. Madden 18 looks set to be one of the best-looking games of the year.
That’s especially the case for the Project Scorpio version:
Zeke in Madden on Scorpio pic.twitter.com/eKEdclk8cH
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) June 10, 2017
Part of what will earn it that crown is the Longshot story mode. It took four years for EA to develop and direct the cinematic aspect of their new story mode, and with FIFA 17’s The Journey as a precursor–and Fight Night Champion’s Champions Mode before it to add more validation–there is a reason to be pumped for Longshot.
The aforementioned deep dive made reference to alternate endings for the lead character Devon Wade. That’s something we’ve yet to see in any story in a sports video game. There was also the use of real NCAA teams. Texas and Oregon were shown in the trailer.
It was great seeing any semblance of NCAA Football in a video game. It has been four years since the series was canceled.
Will we get a chance to pick which team Devon plays or played for? We don’t know, but we do know the entire mode ends before he even makes it to the NFL. At first, that bit of information caused me to pause, but then I started to think about what it could mean.
Is Longshot going to be a completely unique experience that tells a compelling story, teaches and/or tests gamers’ football IQ while possibly branching into another mode? We don’t have any indication of this, but could one of the rewards of finishing Longshot be a Devon Wade MUT card or even a draftable version of him in a Connected Franchise draft class?
Both would be stellar, but that is entirely speculation.
The gameplay is getting rave reviews from folks who have had hands-on experience. Operation Sports has already vouched for the much-needed changes in control feel for smaller players compared to larger ones. The new passing mechanic that could eliminate icon passing is still a bit of a mystery, but I’m probing for more information.
In another bit of promising gameplay news, you can play your best corner on the best receiver.
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) June 10, 2017
We have not been given any new information on Connected Franchise or Ultimate Team, but that will surely come in the upcoming weeks.
Now for the glass-half-full perspective.
The EA Play preview impressions are valuable, but I’ve seen games change for the better and worse after an early demo or test experience. The version on display at EA Play is almost certainly not the final build. The gameplay could be even better once its released, or something that hasn’t been added to the current build could impact the game adversely.
Hopefully, that’s not the case, but it’s something to watch for as we approach the release date.
While I’m mostly fired up for Longshot, I can’t ignore the possibility for disappointment. I love the cinematics in The Journey, but there is a good balance between story and gameplay. One can only hope there’s a similar setup with Longshot. We don’t need a grandiose, overblown and controller-snatching story.
If it’s as interactive as it is engaging, EA Sports will have created another outstanding athletic cyber drama.
All in all, I came away more eager for the release of Madden 18 on August 25. Stay tuned for more details as it becomes available.