Madden NFL 19 on PlayStation 4
Madden NFL 19 was set up to potentially fail after last year’s edition. The shift to the Frostbite edition, the addition of a brand new story mode, and a host of improvements across Franchise and MUT set a very high bar for Madden 19 to try and clear. It would not have been shocking if this year’s iteration looked lazy compared to all of that. While Madden 19 doesn’t exceed Madden 18 in terms of being a game changer, it does feature plenty of improvements and tweaks that make it a worthwhile upgrade.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Longshot. Last year I commented on how much of a risk Longshot was, and despite how corny it was, I secretly enjoyed it. I had reservations though on whether the act would wear thin in the second season. It’s certainly not revolutionary for the series anymore, but I did still quite enjoy most of the second season of Longshot.
Unlike season 1 which centered around Devin Wade’s journey through a reality show and eventually, NFL Draft Day, Colt Cruise steals the show in season 2. Cruise does almost all of the emotional heavy lifting this time around, and outside of the relationship between Wade and his new QB coach in Dallas, Wade is devoid of any personality, and his story is entirely forgettable.
Honestly, though, it’s OK because Cruise’s is far more interesting than anything in season 1 or 2. Cruise is incredibly endearing, likeable, and it was interesting to see how his relationship between his deadbeat father, his newly discovered half-sister (plus her hearing-impaired star QB boyfriend), his old high school coach, and friends would play out. Was it clichèd again? Oh for sure, 100 percent. It doesn’t make it any less of a guilty pleasure and I’m officially sold on this being a thing that Madden could keep going for a couple of more games provided they can work on Wade’s role in the overall story. Oh and more high school football and commentating, please? I’d pay for a mod that replaces the default Madden 19 announcers with the two from Longshot. Again, those segments were far more entertaining and dramatic than anything seen in the NFL sections with Wade.
One final thing worth noting in Longshot. This year’s edition is far more scripted both in terms of gameplay and story, and rather than having any major branching paths, you’re graded based on your ability to complete challenges the without needing to repeat. Your choices from the last game are more or less thrown out in favour of a starting point about a year later. It didn’t really bother me all that much, but if that’s something you really liked about the first game, it could be disappointing to you.
Moving on from Longshot, the big change this year in Madden 19 is the addition of what EA Sports/Tiburon is calling Real-Player Motion. It’s a big animation overhaul that makes the game look more natural and lifelike than in previous entries. Visually, it’s definitely noticeable across both sides of the ball, and you’ll feel the difference the most when you’re playing as the ball carrier.
While the rest of the game doesn’t feel all that different from last year, carrying the football does feel “next-gen” for lack of a better way of putting it. Ball carriers will bounce off players more naturally, and combined with new controls such as “one-cut” (dramatic change of directions) and finer control of the acceleration button, running has really never felt better than this in a football video game. Madden 19 also looks great, as it usually does, and at least in my experience, very unnatural animations, bugs, and the like are down compared to last year. Although your experience may vary, and hopefully, for our entertainment, it does.
As far as changes for Franchise and MUT go, there’s nothing that will make either one of them feel dramatically different, but they still got some love, that’s for sure. The biggest and best addition for MUT is the new training point feature. In previous years, it was easy to get your hands on so many dumpy cards that you couldn’t really do that much with since quick-selling them was next to pointless. Now, certain cards can be powered up through training points that you can obtain from either completing solo challenges, or converting cards you don’t need into points, that you can then invest into improving certain eligible cards. These cards can go from average players in the 70s overall into powerhouses worth a permanent spot on your squad. It’s an addition that keeps MUT competitive with the other non-EA fantasy team mode, Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Show, which I find does an excellent job of giving players a path to obtaining solid cards without needing to pay real money.
Franchise benefits the most from much easier access to having custom draft players. You can very quickly/easily edit the players in your franchise’s draft class and/or upload someone else’s work into your game. Also, new this year is player archetypes which gives you finer control over how players on your team develop and grow. Players that fit into certain “classes” of players such as a scrambling Quarterback, or a pass protecting OL, will progress in a way that supports that style of play. You can break from what Madden 19 might consider to be natural, and have your players progress and play the way that you want, which is much appreciated. Franchise for me has always been a way to roleplay kind of, and Madden 19 added that in a way that I haven’t seen EA do in years with these changes.
Overall, Madden 19 once again is an incredibly complete package and is among the best sports sims you can play currently. Longshot surprises with a solid (although a bit unbalanced) second effort, MUT, Franchise and gameplay as a whole all received worthwhile additions, changes, and improvements, and together it makes Madden 19 worthy of a buy regardless of what you play it for.
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