We are looking at what things we want EA Sports to focus on improving for the next installment of the historic franchise game.
There is no doubt that Madden 20 was a good step forward and a large improvement on Madden 19.
But with each game, there are always areas of the game that swing from completely OP to the opposite and vice versa.
In responding to players' issues, developers often go too far the other way and that’s evident with the blocking mechanism in Madden 20.
Blocking has been up and down
CLEAN POCKET: Is your OL really that good?
Madden 19 was a decent game. But its over-reliance on good OL was painful. If you didn’t have top-level strength and blocking stats, then you were only getting seconds to do something with the ball before the defensive line was at your face.
This was a frustration shared by a lot of Madden players that EA Sports looked to address with Madden 20. They introduced more in-depth stats to measure players' abilities. But they also took it a bit far as proved in an experiment.
Stats don't matter
STOP HIM: Blocking elite pass rushers shouldn't be that simple
Madden School took control of the Denver Broncos and went into training mode with an OL made fully of backup QBs.
They were all rated 12 OVR, the lowest possible. Weak, small, and completely outmatched by X-Factor pass rush Von Miller they averaged 2.44 seconds of protection for the QB.
Here’s the kicker. They did the same again with the starting OL, which is right in the middle of the NFL. They protected the QB for an average of 2.40 seconds.
Yep, that’s worse.
Admittedly the starting OL had the longest recorded at 3.11 seconds, but you would expect to see a stark difference and the fact there isn’t is a frustration for players.
They mention that “In our brief tests for the running game, offensive lineman ratings seem to actually matter but by no means did we run a comprehensive test on it.”
So what next?
BLOCK 'EM UP: Your offensive line might just be a bit OP
For current gamers, it throws into question priorities in your MUT and Franchise activities. There doesn’t appear to be a need to pay big money in either of those modes to get top tier OL. This could drastically change your strategy.
For Madden 21 it is a signal to EA Sports that they need to review the mechanisms and how this will manifest itself in the OL AI blocking. It is difficult as it’s the only position you can’t control as a user.
The steady influx of new techniques such as double team
blocking, ID’ing the Mike and blocking direction have been welcomed, but this
test shows more work is needed.
There also needs to be cautious not to go back too far the other way, back to the likes of Madden 19, where moving the ball without Hall of Fame OL was difficult.
Madden 21 just needs to find a balance between the two.