EA Sports has always done a fine job of reflecting themes of the real NFL in their Madden NFL franchise, and with this year’s installment, they’ve taken things a step further with the intriguing introduction of Draft Champions and the freakishly in-depth Connected Franchise mode. When you take a look at everything Madden NFL 16 has to offer, it’s one of the most complete installments yet, even despite a few gameplay stumbles.
The newest feature in Madden NFL 16 is the introduction of Draft Champions, which has players go through 15 rounds of drafting in order to assemble a team mostly of their choosing. You don’t end up picking every player on your team, and must choose between which positions you want to be stronger versus others. I went through several drafts and enjoyed the element of tact involved with drafting.
Since you don’t know when and who will be coming next in your draft, players have to make a conscious choice of what positions they want filled now. Picking a quarterback (QB) in the fifth round might not be as good of an idea because you could end up having the choice of a legendary QB during the final round. Then again, if you pass on a high-quality QB early on, there is no guarantee that another option will show up later in the draft. Those who have the best draft possible will have an overall team score of 83.
Fantasy Football is a very popular activity these days and Draft Champions captures the essence of choosing your own team and then competing against your friends. I would have liked the draft to go longer so I could draft just about every player on my own team, but I understand why EA Sports only made a draft last 15 rounds. It was a conservative play to see how people like the mode, and I do think players will find it enjoyable. I really had a great time with Draft Champions and think it’s a solid mode that can be built upon nicely should EA Sports decide to keep the mode in upcoming iterations.
Moving onto Connected Franchise, a mode that I spent most of my well over 20 hours with the game, EA has created in-game drive goals for both the drive itself and individual players. While on offense, I might be given a goal of ending a drive with a passing touchdown, completing four consecutive passes, rushing for over 20 yards or other things similar to these. This really is an outstanding, addicting feature.
In-game drive goals have made me a more well-rounded player because they shake me out of play style patterns such as doing nothing but running or passing. I think players will find the drive goals to be an enjoyable thing to shoot for and they will add more focus on every play you run.
Getting back to the individual goals each player will have for the game, this is where Madden NFL 16 becomes ultra-addictive. You can pretty much play with any player on the field and they will have a unique goal for the game, and if you meet that goal, a new one is given, along with an XP reward bonus for the goal you just completed. This is a fantastic RPG-type mechanic and goes a long way in establishing meaning to every play.
The biggest problem I had with the feature was trying to figure out who to play as on defense or offense in order to boost their XP and skills, which at the end of the day is a great problem to have. I applaud this feature and think it adds tremendous depth to the in-game experience.
Speaking of depth, Connected Franchise goes a long way in delivering one of the deepest modes yet. Players can manage everything from moving a team to a new city to the new scouting system. The latter is a much simpler mode to go through as potential players are given an academic grade once gamers have decided to utilize scouting points on a player. This has made scouting a much more enjoyable part of Connected Franchise, and it doesn’t come across as a burden or boring task.
Overall, Madden NFL 16’s Connected Franchise is one of the most in-depth, effectively fleshed out versions I’ve seen. Gamers are going to thoroughly enjoy everything it has to offer from the in-game experience to managing your team.
From a gameplay standpoint, there were a few missteps with the quarterback’s animations as well as the receiver’s. For example, I threw a pass to the right side of the field and the QB’s body was facing completely to the left, making the animation not match up with where the ball was being thrown. Receivers sometimes have animation issues when receiving the ball, but this wasn’t as frequent of an issue as the QB one was.
Madden NFL 16 also sports a Super Bowl Preview of what teams EA Sports believes will be in this year’s Super Bowl. The introduction to the game is what it is, but there were some frame rate issues during a few parts of it, though I didn’t find those problems extended to gameplay elsewhere. In fact, when you look outside of this preview mode, the visuals and player models are some of the most realistic, beautiful creations I’ve ever seen in a Madden game.
Some changes have occurred in the game’s receiving system and they are quite welcomed. When you are about to make a catch, you will have three options for how you want the receiver to go after a ball: Aggressive, Run After Catch (RAC) or Possession Catch. You’ll wanted to make your choice based on the defenders around you and where the ball has been thrown.
For example, I usually went with an Aggressive catch when a ball was thrown a bit higher than usual, and often times, my receiver came down with the ball. When I tossed a short, easy pass to a receiver, a simple Possession Catch was warranted to ensure the ball wasn’t dropped, which can happen with the Aggressive catch. Finally, the RAC option is one I used when a receiver had an open lane in front of him as he was about to make a catch. This system does what few installments have been able to do with receiving, add meaning to the action.
Madden NFL 16 is the best iteration in the franchise this generation, presenting gamers with the most in-depth Connected Franchise yet and an interesting Draft Champions mode that has great potential to grow. Madden NFL 16 is a fantastic step forward for the series and is one players will thoroughly enjoy.
- Deep Connected Franchise
- Fun Draft Champions mode
- Gorgeous visuals
- Gameplay animation issues
A PS4 and Xbox One copy of Madden NFL 16 was provided by EA Sports for the purposes of this review.