Madden 15 Review Part 2: Offline Experience

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Developer: EA Tiburon

Publisher: EA Sports

Platforms: PS4 (Version Reviewed), Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

Release Date: August 26th

After two years of working to re-define the franchise’s online experience, Electronic Arts finally invested time into the offline experience for Madden 15. While not every drive ended in a touchdown, the changes did score enough points for the franchise to pick up the win.

The start of the NFL season has delayed much of this review. Watch for the remaining sections to be posted in the next few days.

Connected Careers: Franchise Modes

When EA decided to make jump from the classic franchise and player modes to Connected Careers, it was done entirely with the online experience in mind. Unfortunately, the transition killed the single-player experience almost completely. Franchise-mode veterans were left without much a reason to ever put the disc into their console.

EA tried to fix this a year ago when they re-introduced owner mode, but all that did was add a layer of polish that couldn’t cover up the inherit flaws in the mode’s design. There was no way around having to repeat the same tedious drills for every week of the season, or the hours spent scouting the speed of every wide receiver in the drafter one-at-a-time.

Franchise mode is supposed to be about releasing your inner general manager. It is tough to do that when being forced to slog through hours of drills just to get to your first offseason. Because of this, Connected Careers has been a difficult pill to swallow for gamers who preferred the classic franchise mode in Madden.

This year, EA finally tweaked the formula just enough to allow it to be fun again. The drills have been replaced with “Game Prep,” which can be simmed, giving your players experience points that can be used to improve their attributes. Of course, actually playing through the drills does generate more experience, but having the option to skip this is a nice addition.

Contract negotiations with players can now be started at any point during the season too. There is no reason to wait for the game to initiate the negotiations.

Put these two changes together and it makes it possible now to sim though large portions of the season without permanently killing your team’s future in the process. Gamers are now free to skip to the good stuff, like building their team into a championship superpower. It doesn’t sound like much of a change, but it definitely ramps up the fun level when playing offline.

Plus, there is always something inherently fun about building up a team from scratch after relocating one of the league’s bad teams.

Of course, things aren’t perfect yet. Scouting for the draft in Madden 15 is still painful. The lack of simple combine stats for players is frustrating, and can lead to wasting a lot of scouting points on uninteresting players. EA needs to address these issues in the future, but for now at least it is possible to say that the offline franchise mode is fun again.