Madden 23 devs admit the series was 'too animation-based' and changes are coming

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Madden 23 gameplay is getting some major changes this year, and we've got even more context now from the developers themselves.

With a new interview now out, Madden 23 devs have faced some of their own flaws in order to fix them moving forward.

Madden 23 devs admit the series used to be 'too animation-based'

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When it was first announced, Madden 23 leaned hard on the new FieldSENSE gameplay system which aims to revamp much of the game from the ground up.

However, it's taken a lot of work and some hard looks by the developers at EA Tiburon to filter through the noise of fan feedback and find out what they needed to focus on.

In a new interview with Senior Producer Clint Oldenburg and fellow producer Mike Mahar, they explained that even in a deluge of criticism there are real valuable details to pick out.

Madden 23 gameplay gun bunch formation
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SKILL BASED PASSING: Things are drastically different this year

"Even if there's a hundred words in there that don't tell you why, there might be one or two that will tell you why, and that's what you got to focus on so that you make sure you're delivering the experience at its core, what those players are asking for," Oldenburg said.

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Among the details picked out, Oldenburg said "our players have told us very strongly, their words, not ours, Madden has gotten a little bit too animation-based, meaning that they feel like they lose control at critical moments and are watching quick-time events, for lack of a better word."

While he pushed back a bit with "their words, not ours," to even bring up the issue means that they realize there's truth in it.

The interview went on to outline a desire by devs to get away from the more rigid animation-based style towards a system that's more "emergent, organic, and natural."

Gameplay changes hitting defense, key formations, and more

Exactly how they're doing this isn't just down to the system itself, though the altered physics should make a big difference in gameplay at every level.

In addition to FieldSENSE features like Hit Everything and 360 Cuts that'll affect the mechanics on the field, they've also given the defensive side of the ball some major changes.

Among the goals here, on top of just improving overall quality, is doing away with "money plays" that become too overpowered and get used heavily in competitive play.

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"I think, from a high level, just the changes we did in deep zone and pass rush this year helps combat the problem of money plays, specifically those deep crossing routes that I already talked about. We added zone drift logic that gives our deep zoners the awareness to not continue drifting up the field if they don't have a vertical threat so they can leverage that deep crossing route," Oldenburg said.

Among the formations being nuked is Gun Bunch, a longtime favorite that's remained a staple of top playbooks in Madden for years, which we've got more details on here.

They've also done several gameplay changes just before launch based on Closed Beta feedback, and that includes addressing both catch animations and hit-stick animations.

According to the latest Gridiron Notes, the following changes were made to address complaints that User Interceptions weren't responsive enough and that there wasn't enough Hit-Stick Variety:

  • Tuning to catch animations to increase range for jumping INT’s
  • Tuning to significantly decrease situations where the player is requesting ‘Play Ball’ without seeing the corresponding animation response.
  • 27 new hit-stick animations have been added for launch
  • Most of the existing animations have been updated to make them look/behave differently
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We've got more details here on additional changes being made to Franchise Mode based on that Closed Beta feedback.