Madden NFL 17 on Xbox One and PlayStation®4 is the culmination of community feedback and years of technological advancements. In our previous blog, we detailed the lead feature in the ground game. Today, we will cover updates within special teams and a top community request, pass defense. We are also excited to be introducing game changing ball physics.
Special Teams. The third phase of the game. This is an area that hasn’t changed much in Madden for quite some time. To be honest, special teams in Madden was largely a non-factor. Kicks were too easy and blocks were almost impossible without exploits. We felt pretty strongly that this was not representative of what we are seeing in the NFL. Our goals in this area were to add strategy, risk and reward elements, and the potential for game deciding plays in special teams.
New Kick Meter
When we reviewed game tape of the 2015 NFL season, we came to the realization that it was far past time to make kicking in Madden ‘less automatic’. We felt like we needed more of a challenge than just flicking the stick up. We also felt that kicker ratings needed to have a much bigger impact on the game. After reviewing other sports titles, we quickly adopted a 3 button approach, very similar to what you would see in a golf or baseball game. You click the button once to start the kick, click again at the top of the meter to set power and finally again at the bottom of the meter to set accuracy. The harder you try and kick it, the more difficult it will be to hit the accuracy window. We have also restored the squib kick mechanic based on community response and new to M17 are ‘sky punt’ and ‘backspin’ options for situational strategies in the kicking game.
Speaking of all out block formations, at long last we have a designed system for blocking kicks. Gone are the days of user created exploit kick blocks, now replaced by a system that has very tight control over frequency and success chances. When you call one of several punt or kick block formations, the players who are designated as ‘kick blockers’ are marked with a B icon in pre play. Select one of these players and use the jump the snap mechanic to have a small chance at breaking through the line and driving in for a kick block. The win chance is only the beginning, successfully steering yourself in for a block and timing the block attempt are all necessary to achieve one of the most dynamic and exciting plays in football. Rest assured there are cap systems in place to ensure users do not exploit this new implementation of kick blocks.
Multiplayer Catch Outcomes
Despite all the success of Madden NFL 16, we’ve heard from our hardcore competitive community we needed to further tune the aggressive catch to not be so overpowered and available to every type of wide receiver. We’ve listened and made several tuning changes along with the addition of a Swat mechanic to help address these concerns.
First off, we received many complaints that all players were capable of making spectacular catches. We got it loud and clear that you were getting tired of seeing all the one-handers by a litany of different players with vastly different catching abilities. We now restrict those extremely athletic, high degree of difficulty catches to the more elite ball in air receivers only. OBJ, Julio, A.B., Hopkins and Dez are the type of players who will have the ability to do those spectacular catches consistently, while a Running Back or Slot receiver will trigger a catch that is more reflective of his catching ability.
Next up, we heard in some cases the defender would trigger animations that would not match the users input. This year, we have added significant animation coverage to both play receiver and swat to ensure you will get an animation that matches your intended action.
Another piece of feedback from the community was that there was never any injury chance on receivers who exposed their bodies and took consistent hits while performing aggressive catches. Injury chances have been increased in these situations for Madden NFL 17, so repeatedly targeting your big threat WR on jump balls in traffic now comes with significant risk of injury to that player.
Finally, we want to once again reiterate, there is a user bonus for clicking on and using the defensive mechanics. Win chances on catch outcomes are given a significant bonus for users who click on to defenders and use the defensive ball in air mechanics, with each mechanic bringing its own risk and reward.
The lack of control options on defense to effectively defend the aggressive catch became a major point of contention throughout the year. We spent a lot of time discussing this specific issue with the community and decided that the right way to attack the problem was not to nerf the aggressive catch, but rather build an effective counter mechanic on defense. Thus, the new SWAT mechanic was born for Madden NFL 17. Defenders now have 3 options when the ball is in the air. Play Ball, Play Receiver or Swat. If you are willing to give up the chance for an interception in order to stop the shot play, the swat mechanic is for you. It has been custom designed as the counter to the aggressive catch on defense.