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What We Learned About Madden 15 at E3 2014

We learned a lot about Madden 15 at E3, but some things stood out more than others.
We learned a lot about Madden 15 at E3, but some things stood out more than others.

E3 2014 has come and gone, and while there is still more to learn about Madden 15’s game design and development in the coming days and weeks, there’s quite a lot we picked up on from the event. In particular, there are eleven things that stuck out to us.

There wasn’t a ton of video footage allowed of Madden 15 during E3, but there were a few gameplay videos that emerged in the final days. With the help of these videos, along with developer interviews and feature reveals, we’ve narrowed down some of the more interesting bits of info, and ranked it here below in no particular order.

So, without further adieu, here’s the eleven cool things we learned about Madden NFL 15 this past week.

11. There is a “Tackle Cone” & It’s Optional

When EA revealed, among many other things, that there would be a “tackle cone” in Madden 15, plenty of people voiced concern about how it would take away from the immersion of the game. Luckily, we were able to later learn that this is a completely optional feature, and unlike the QB vision cone of old, this is merely an indicator implemented by the game developers that players can use to help understand the angle and depth of their defenders when closing in on a tackle. In short: Use the tackle cone to clean up your positional tackling fundamentals, and discard it once you’re ready.

10. Madden is Challenging You To The Gauntlet

Madden 15 pushing all of its chips forward and challenging players to The Gauntlet, a new mode inside the game (possibly within skills trainer?), that is designed to both hone your game, and make you say “now that’s just ridiculous” at the same time. Described by some as sort of a love-letter to the Madden mini-games of old, The Gauntlet is an arcade-style mode that gives you a handful of lives, and sees how long you can last while the game throws challenges at you, including the every-so-often boss battles (yes, I said boss battles) that take the game design and difficulty to absurd levels. From everything I’ve heard at E3, this is a surprisingly addictive, and fun mode.

9. Defense Was The Game Design Focus

There a ton of defensive changes to Madden 15, but perhaps the most significant are the changes to the defensive line. A ton of players play Madden games with the defensive line either out of preference, or worry that they’ll “mess something up” while covering in the secondary. Madden 15 is hoping to put better controls in these players hands by introducing new pass rushing mechanics and controls. Early opinions are that this might be overpowered, although it’s hard to tell on gameplay demos that are likely set to lower difficulty settings. It should also be remembered that when user-control the D-Line, you are giving up control of critical impact positions like safety or linebacker, so a little overpowered might not be such a bad thing in lieu of what you’re giving up.

The overhaul to the defensive side of the ball was sorely needed in Madden’s game design, particularly after Madden 25 saw an endless amount of complaints from users (*cough* myself *cough*) about its defensive weaknesses. Touchdowns were almost mandatory on possessions in Madden 25, and far too many games came down to who got the lucky fumble (or as a result, who played with the monstrous hit-power on the 49ers). Good teams should give you an advantage in Madden, but the benefits of the turnover went way too far last year in such a defense-starved game. Clearly, Madden’s game developers took notice of this.

8. New Pass Accuracy Will Change How You Play

Pass accuracy is getting a overhaul in Madden 15, and it’s happening for two very good reasons: There wasn’t enough separation between good and bad quarterbacks, and tons of receiver animations were being wasted. It’s incredibly interesting to note that Madden has a lot more pass animations already built into its game design that we’ve never seen, in part because accuracy in Madden has mostly been a matter of on-target or not-at-all.

The new changes to pass accuracy will fill in the grey areas, which means your ball placement can vary wildly depending on your quarterback and delivery. Some passes will require receivers to reach out in front, behind, or above them, and others may even require a spectacular effort to grab, but can still be caught. Accurate QBs deliver better balls on average, and elite receivers will benefit greatly from the extended range of passes.

7. Presentation is Much Better

With help from former NFL Films Senior Cinematographer Brian Murray, Madden appears to do a much better job this year with its game-day presentation. The dedicated pre-game talk sounds extremely authentic, after-play camera focus is much more appropriate and while play-by-play commentary still sounds a bit disjointed, even that has improved some. While I’m not a particular fan of the necessity or execution of the new halftime show, that’s also built into the game this time around, which will please some fans and cause others to roll their eyes at its importance.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in presentation is the addition of real-life NFL game footage, which will appear at times in discussion about players in the lead-in to games. This is a small touch that really adds to the feel of the game, and brings the NFL much closer than it’s ever been in Madden.

6. You Can Now Play Defense From a Defensive View

New, optional cameras are being added this year from the view of the defense, which means you can rush the passer, cover a receiver or hunt down a ball-carrier with the endzone to your back. While this will probably never be a popular competitive view, in my experience it has always been the most fun way to play defense and really adds to the immersion of the game. You really feel like you are “getting to” the quarterback on the defensive line, or “trying to find” the running back at linebacker with a defensive cam view.

To give players a little more leeway, they will be able to choose between having a defensive view locked on their player, or expanded more to encompass the rest of the team. Additionally, the defensive view naturally scales based on your position, as players on the D-Line don’t need to see as much as players in the secondary, for example, which should give users more relevant context during the play. This is a savvy nuance put in by the game developers that really helps to create a more immerse, and polished game design.

5. Pre-Snap Camera Controls Have Arrived

Gone are the days of having to pause your game and fiddle through the menu to adjust your camera angle. In Madden 15, all six of the game’s camera angles will be available during live pre-snap by cycling through them with the dpad. This is not just a good quality-of-life change, but should also allow players to adjust their camera more often based on their intent on the field — maybe you want the “All-22” view on passing downs, and the “Zoom” view when running the ball. Now you have that option.

4. The “Matchup Stick” is Every Madden-Head’s Dream

Borrowing an idea from the NCAA Football series, Madden 15 is bringing over the “matchup stick” to give players a better understanding of potential mismatches on the field, and it’s executed much better than its collegiate counter-part. The ability to see the speed and router-running differential for a player versus his logical man assignment, or the release and height gains on the opponent is an incredibly useful tool from beginner all the way up to seasoned-pro.

Typically, it can take a few players to understand precisely which player is playing across from your stud receiver, because depth charts vary in online games and it’s not exactly easy to identify a defender without the aid of the back of his jersey sometimes. With the matchup stick, everything just got a whole lot easier in that department, and strategy nuts will appreciate it.

3. Coverage Options Will Strengthen Your Defense

Madden veterans will be familiar with the concept of shading cornerbacks to the outside in recent years, but now they’ll have more options at their disposal to make adjustments on the fly and take away troublesome routes. Players can now shade coverage inside, outside, over top and underneath, which as you can imagine will all have their uses in the game. Shading to the inside, in theory, would do a better job of taking away slants, while adjusting your defender underneath should give him a jump on curl routes while giving up the potential for a big play down the field.

Along with individual coverage adjustments that were put in by the game developers, you can also adjust underneath zones globally to “protect the sticks” and keep opponents away from the first down marker. The addition of this adjustment alone should go a long way to easing many of the defensive concerns that plagued Madden 25.

2. Audibles Have Slowed Down on Offense

Audibles are slowing down on offense, which means you will have to wait for the quarterback to communicate his adjustments to receivers and backs just like in the NFL. While this sort of change brings with it some realism, it’s primarily a benefit to the defense, as many times in the past offenses were able to make adjustments faster than defensive-minded users could respond to them. A slower audible system on offense means you will have to be more deliberate in your adjustments.

1. Elite Defenders Break on Passes Sooner

In previous editions of Madden, defenders would start breaking on a route as soon as the ball left the quarterback’s hand, but this year it’s different. The better a defender is in his particular coverage (man coverage, zone coverage, etc) the earlier he will make a break on the ball. For the really elite players, such as Madden 15’s highest rated player Richard Sherman, they’ll start to attack a pass as soon as a quarterback loads his shoulder to throw.

With Madden’s increased importance on coverage ratings, star players in the secondary should stand out more on defense, and proper shading technique with these players should rightly result in a big play on defense. This kind of power in the secondary’s game design is important, as many people will want to try their hands on the defensive line with the new pass rush system, and they’ll be hard-pressed to do so if defenders on the back end can’t cover basic routes. Kudos to the game developers on picking up on the need to tighten up the secondary this time around.

Madden 15 Gameplay Video

And with that, here’s a full quarter of gameplay from Madden 15 courtesy of @Shopmaster.

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  • cordell

    all this sounds good

    • GoMadden

      There’s still more to learn too. They still haven’t said much about CFM or MUT.

  • Timothy Simpson

    This all looks awesome I like the new defensive approach their taking. Something I would like to see in this new Madden is CFM where you can be a Coach, owner and player for the same team. It was cool feature for Madden 25 but it would not allow you to have a coach on the same team as the player/ Owner.

  • Scannezzy

    #2 is probably the most interest to me. it sucked to have someone on offense audible a million times last year before you even got set up on defense. i think making it slower will help a lot on D

  • woodson21hof

    I like slower audibles for offense. I never have time to set up my D.