Madden 21: Will Adaptive AI tweaks provide realistic Franchise Mode gameplay?

Improvements are coming to make your CPU opponent smarter, but will it help Franchise Mode?

Toby Durant by Toby Durant
madden 21 adaptive ai playbooks franchise mode

News surrounding Madden 21 continues at a pace this week.

Not only are ratings leaking, being confirmed, and getting argued over, but more gameplay news is coming out too.

The latest Gridiron Notes talk about playbooks and AI – which will be a big factor in your Franchise Mode this year. But will it create that new feel we are all hoping for?

Adaptive AI

What the hell is adaptive AI? Well, it’s basically just improved logic for CPU-controlled players.

The main example of this improvement EA gives is about opposing quarterbacks.

“In Madden NFL 21, we’re refining our adaptive AI logic. Which will give AI-quarterbacks the ability to audible to pass concepts that are ideal for attacking certain defensive coverages.”

madden 21 mahomes bosa
CHANGE OF PLANS: High-end QBs will be tougher to stop this year

Some QBs were already audibling regularly against you. The question users will have is will this AI be able to see through your formational disguises?

Those that face CPU opponents regularly will already be aware of the AI’s ability to “know” what play you are running. At the goal line if you call a run play, even out of shotgun, you’ll see a stacked front but if you call a pass out of the same formation it will be a coverage-heavy unit against you.

This can be played to your advantage on offense, but on defense it will be much harder.

If the AI can tell you are in a cover 3 even if you are showing cover 2 then it takes a lot of the strategy out of playing defense.

Blanket approach or tailored?

Tom Brady and Drew Brees might be able to decipher patterns and spot tells in defenses, but Drew Lock or Jalen Hurts shouldn’t be doing that.

It will be vital that this Adaptive AI also respect things like play recognition stats for QBs. The smarter veterans should be audibling like crazy, but the younger and less capable QBs shouldn’t.

READ MORE: Madden OVRs are broken

We already know that offensive coordinators limit audible options for backups and young passers. So it will be crucial to the realism of Madden that Adaptive AI follow that route.

If Brian Hoyer is constantly checking into the right play it will be difficult to call Madden 21 a “sim” game.

Style of escape

A big part of the Gridiron Notes also stated that QBs will play to their own strengths when it comes to avoiding pressure.

For mobile QBs that will be finding a lane and scrambling, for pocket passers it will mean throwing quick.

“A pocket-passing quarterback will look to throw the ball away more when feeling under pressure or even take those 1-on-1 shots down the field to favorable matchups.”

madden 21 lamar jackson
ESCAPE ARTIST: Mobile QBs will take off in the face of pressure

This will scale with difficulty, but again it needs to scale with ability too. If a usually skittish QB is standing in and uncorking bombs just before getting hammered by a DE then Madden becomes less of an NFL-sim game.

What does this mean for Franchise Mode gameplay?

Along with the live playbooks, this should all be good news for Franchise Mode players.

While the layout of menus and overall structure of the mode is frustratingly static, EA has seemingly put effort into making the gameplay fresh.

madden 21 playbook diversity
BEAT THIS: New formations and packages are coming to playbooks this year

The combination of live playbooks, increased user-control via skill sticks, and these Adaptive AI improvements should all make gameplay much better and more realistic.

It all depends on how EA balance it between individual QB skill and difficulties.

The aim seems to be to make players use more of the playbook and not rely on a handful of cracked/cheese plays against the AI.

That seems unlikely given the history of Madden’s schemes and the complexity that motion, formation, and field position create.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

READ MORE: Madden needs to abandon 99 OVR and follow FIFA’s model

Toby Durant

a