A MAJOR Part of Football Was Missing From the Madden 24 Gameplay Trailer

The official NFL game is nearing release and EA is drip-feeding fans information, the latest trailer showed off Madden 24 gameplay. We got a good look at all kinds of improvements to animation, player modeling, AI logic, and more.

It was all very promising. Displaying the kind of simulation improvements to core gameplay that the community has been wanting for years. But something was missing. And it could make Madden 24 one of the most frustrating releases in a while.

Promising demo

Lots of problems with Madden's gameplay look like they are fixed in Madden 24. Blocking AI has been a particular thorn in everyone's side for a long time. From blitzers running past offensive linemen to screen blockers seeming to change their minds 10 times in five strides and failing to block a single player, it has been in need of work for a long time.

It looks like that has been fixed now, with screen blocking getting a big spotlight in the gameplay trailer to demonstrate the massive improvement.

A screenshot from the Madden 24 gameplay trailer showing the enhanced screen blocking AI
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BOOM - Screen blockers now pick a target early and stick with it

Along with screens, EA made a big point about pin-pull blocking schemes actually working, while blockers moving to the second level on double teams and even chip blocks will all now be effective weapons. Combined with more fluid and realistic player movements and the blocking in Madden 24 should lay a really strong foundation for offensive football.

Which is kind of the crux of the problem here because, while offensive systems like skill-based passing 2.0, QB & ball-carrier AI, and catching improvements were all part of the improvements shown off there was very little for the defense.

Unstoppable force

Playing defense has always been tough on Madden. Part of that is the NFL's rules drifting toward offensive and passing football over the last 20 years, but it's also because of how Madden actually plays.

Zone coverage has been ineffective in online play for years even if you had incredible user skills. Man coverage has been the only way to play the pass, aided by the AIs poor blocking which allowed you to have five or six DBs on the field and still defend the run. But now? Those days are over.

The Dollar and Dime defensive packages that have become so prevalent in MUT may be at an end. That is good for players that want more of a simulation game, but it leads to another problem... How do you stop the opposition?

The 49ers defense makes a tackle on Tony Pollard in Madden 24
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WRAP & DRIVE - There are plenty of new tackle animations coming this year

The expansion of catch tackles now creates more contested catches, that's great. But if the blitzers are picked up and the ends are chipped why is anyone throwing slants & short in-cuts?

Tackling variety has improved, with wrap tackles and proper size/momentum calculations going on, but if the offense can pull off diving catches, jump throws, and the screen game is more deadly then what chance does the defense have?

Madden 24 will also take away the one true advantage that defenses had; the "psychic" DB interception. Defenders will now have to actually see the ball to play it. This is a good step for realism, but will make man coverage harder to use. That's no good if zone coverage is still a mess.

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The one edge EA is adding to the defense this year is that the front will start to read repeat plays, especially running ones. The Gridiron Notes claim that: "If a team is running the same play out of the same formation, that is a tell to the defense. Once the defense keys in on this, defenders will play their run-fit and start hitting their gap as soon as the ball is snapped."

This should stop people spamming one play. But there are plenty of shotgun formations that run inside zone for example, so will players be able to negate the AI keying on that play by just mixing up formations? We'll have to wait and see, but it looks like Madden 24 will give players a much tougher time on defense.

A frustrating experience

That might be good for player enjoyment in some areas, and force a change to MUT tactics that have been the same for a while now, but it might just create an even more frustrating gameplay style.

Fans love to watch a dynamic shootout. The 2018 Rams 54-51 Chiefs game is one of the most exciting and talked about games in recent history. But it's only remarkable because it's rare. If every game is a seven-touchdown offensive slugfest then Madden stops being a fair reflection of the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers throwing a jump pass in Madden 24
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JUMP MAN - Special animations like this only make getting stops harder

Maybe we should stop expecting Madden to be an accurate portrayal of the NFL, after all it has veered wildly in its relationship to football when it comes to playcalling and schemes on both sides of the ball.

All the major gameplay improvements for Madden 24 are piled up on the offensive side of the ball. A side that was already at a distinct advantage in Madden. While it will be great to never see an offensive lineman wander past three players to pick up a meaningless backside block again, the wall of blockers on toss plays is likely to just make running the ball even more deadly.

Madden 24 is shaping up great if you are an offensive guru, but if you like defense it might be a "wait and see" year rather than buying on day one.

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