Last year, EA Sports released one of the best installments in the Madden NFL series, Madden NFL 16. This year’s game has released and it was immediately clear to me how the series has recaptured the excellence of 2016’s game. Not only that, but Madden NFL 17 takes it a many steps forward with improvements to gameplay, Connected Franchise and announcing.

Madden has always had a lot going for it with its impeccable gameplay, but announcing has been a constantly lacking aspect of the series. To be fair, you could say the same thing about announcing in just about every other sports game. The new announcing duo of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis provide a refreshing take on the game’s commentary.

You no doubt have heard about the weekly announcing updates coming to Madden NFL 17. These will be based off of the actual storylines happening in the NFL, and I must admit they are quite impressive thus far. I believe Madden NFL 17 has made a bit of a breakthrough with the game’s announcing.

These updates have made Madden feel more current and up-to-date than ever before. A few days back when I played as the Denver Broncos and Mark Sanchez was the starting quarterback, the announcing team talked about the several turnovers he made against the San Francisco 49ers, something that happened a few days prior.

I can’t wait to see how the feature evolves throughout the 2016 season. The combination of roster and announcing updates make Madden feel more like a living experience than ever before.

Fighting for the ball (Courtesy of EA Sports).
Fighting for the ball (Courtesy of EA Sports).

Switching gears to gameplay, Madden NFL 17 has brought with it some useful changes to its running system in the form of a directional arrow. This shows exactly where you are aiming your player’s running direction at, something no previous Madden has featured.

There are also instances during a run when players can press a button like Circle (PS4) or Triangle (PS4) to avoid an incoming tackler. These are called Precision Moves and execute actions like spinning away from or hurdling defenders. Moves like those are something players could pull off in previous Madden games, but this year’s iteration simply emphasizes them more. Oh, and there’s even a precision celebration, so you can be even more exact with rubbing a score in your opponent’s face.

Connected Franchise has been updated in a variety of ways, all of which make the mode that much stronger. Gamers can learn about the tendencies of their opponents when it comes to play calling. This allowed me to game plan for the Patriots and learn their play calling tendencies. I was then able to craft plays for specific situations and more times than not they ended up working.

Additionally, Play The Moment is a feature that quickly simulates through your game, and much like the cable show NFL Red Zone brings all red zone plays to viewers, Play The Moment is doing the same. The only difference is gamers are given the option of taking control of their game and playing the rest of their red zone drive.

Big Coaching Decisions enable owners to trade, sign and release players throughout the season. These transactions do provide more depth for how these choices are made and gives an interesting level of feedback to you when a move you make isn’t quite precise enough.

Goal setting is an essential feature for your head coach’s progression in Madden NFL 17. Before the start of the season, gamers are able to set goals for the team’s overall performance during the year. You can choose to achieve goals such as a total number of wins, making it to the Divisional round of the playoffs or even the Super Bowl.

You will need to be careful when making this decision, however, because if you do not reach your goal there will be consequences. The more lofty your goal is the more likely your coach could be fired. A seven win goal will have a much lower likelihood of your coach being fired, compared to making it to the Divisional round, which will have a very high likelihood of firing should the goal not be reached. Another layer of this decision is the tougher your goal is, the more XP your coach will receive in return.

I ended up choosing the goal to make the Divisional round with Kubiak as Broncos head coach. I didn’t play a single game and simulated the entire regular season. Their record turned out to be 2-14 and Kubiak was fired at season’s end. It’s a balancing act for players to set their goal, but I found this feature to add a new layer of meaning to my season and each game I actually played. This will lure you into playing more games and simulating less, which is a great thing.

Diving to block the kick in Madden NFL 17 (Courtesy of EA Sports).
Diving to block the kick in Madden NFL 17 (Courtesy of EA Sports).

I’ve always been a Connected Franchise guy and so the mode has been improved greatly with the aforementioned features, as well as little things like an in-game scoreboard that keeps you abreast on what’s happening with other games in the NFL. Particularly as the end of a regular season played out and I was pushing for a playoff spot, it was extremely helpful to know what the teams in front of me were doing. Knowing a small thing like the score of another game influenced decisions I made in my game i.e. playing more conservatively or more aggressively.

Defense has been embellished with true gap assignments for defensive players, and this adds a authentic note to gameplay. You can still play as you wish, but if you truly want to play as a D-lineman, then you can do so and follow the gap you’ve been pegged to. Additionally, there have been 13 unique zones for defenses to play under and is another example of gameplay going deeper than before. This is the first time Madden features that many zone defenses and it’s a welcomed alteration.

A slight change has been made to the game’s kick meter system. When you are kicking a field goal, gamers can control their aim with the left analog stick, but they must consistently hold that position to ensure the aim they want. Simply moving the left stick once won’t be enough to keep the altered direction. You have to hold the left stick in place.

To determine the amount of power you want for your kick, simply press X and watch the meter climb up towards the top of the power bar, press X when you have hit your desired power, then watch the X fall back down into a dark blue area and try to press X when it gets back to the point it originally started at. Kicking can only be advanced so far, but I really like this new system and think Madden players will too.

Kicking a field goal in Madden NFL 17 (Courtesy of EA Sports).
Kicking a field goal in Madden NFL 17 (Courtesy of EA Sports).

EA Sports continues to make Madden NFL an extremely enjoyable and deep experience. Gamers who have always enjoyed Madden will love Madden NFL 17 and if you haven’t had the chance to touch the series in the past few years, this year is a great place to jump back in.

EA Sports has repeated the feat and even built upon the success of last year’s game, making Madden NFL 17 one of the best yet. It’s available now for PS4 and Xbox One. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on video games. EA provided We Write Things with a PS4 code of Madden 17 for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.