The Issues with Madden 18’s Gameplay – On Madden Blog #2

Today I’m writing about the issues with Madden’s gameplay including the zone logic, the running game and much more. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if I missed anything. Thank you to the gutfoxx discord for helping me brainstorm.

Obviously we all hate spins and jukes being too powerful against users so I don’t feel I need to get too in depth there. This thread before the game even launched does a good job of telling why we don’t like it:

Linebackers get too quickly to the sidelines being able to cover spread sets too easily. There is a limited disadvantage of running a 3-4 against 4 WRs. I’m not sure something as drastic as what happens when you run dollar against heavy sets needs to be added but maybe shuffle animations need to slow down a tick or something to allow them not to be able to cover out routes and the like so fast.

“Clearout routes” aka streaks have limited effect on how a DB breaks on a ball. Say you have a streak, corner and flat against a cover 3. The DB cuts and reacts to the ball too quickly if the corner route is thrown even when he’s running stride for stride with a streak route. Almost psychic at times with how he breaks on a ball being thrown behind him. They shift their momentum too quickly at times too.

In a cover 4 or other defenses, a safety doesn’t react very well to a ball thrown right at him on a streak route aka 4 verticals. They stand there flat footed as opposed to breaking on it to make a play on the ball or WR. The offensive players can call a possession catch and fall down without triggering an animation from the defender.

Along with the above, the lack of animations at times is very frustrating when you’re near a WR but he goes up and grabs the ball as your player stays flat footed. Since Madden is animation based, not being able to trigger one even as you’re close to the ball is very frustrating. Might be worth looking to increase the radius of animation triggers on passes very near a defender.

D-line going offsides on balanced should be removed. Random chance for a clutch 3rd or 4th based on a d-linemen jumping makes sense in real life but not how competitive madden is presented. Aggressive pass rush should be the only thing that allows them. And if we’re going off traits, does this mean disciplined o-linemen never jump offsides or are they just much better at not jumping but still will if the button is spammed?

Cloud flats are tricked by motion. For example, in bunch if you call the play curl flat (below) you can streak the TE, out route the outside WR and motion snap him to get the cloud flat to suck down.


Cover 3 and cover 4 should be able to counter corner routes without a clearout WR. The TE angle corner route gets open against cover 3 and it shouldn’t as the ball is thrown just about directly at a defender.

The force defenders need to be looked at in 18 the same way they were looked at in 17. The stretch and toss are killing us right now.

In addition WR’s hold LBs too long on blocks. The blockshedding this year isn’t as well balanced as past year. I blame some of this on MUT card stats. They made high end WRs like Antonio Brown and OBJ get too high of run blocking stats.

Run blocking intelligence – fullbacks and o-linemen run right past their assignments/the nearest defender and guys don’t find assignments down the field very well.

Linebackers need to be able to react to pulling guards better and not be faked out by ballcarriers on counters or left flat footed in tosses. I think play rec needs to show more of a difference in how guys react to runs. So a player with 80 play rec loses a step or two moving towards the ball carrier vs. a guy with 99 play rec is easily able to recognize the offensive playcall and move quickly towards where the ball carrier is going on tosses/stretches/dives and the like.

User controlled defenders shouldn’t be made to move by the CPU. I hate having my guy move across the formation in the wrong directions on counters because the CPU made me.

The scramble drill defensive zones are terrible. It seems after a while the guys stop reacting to threats that come in their zones.

The scramble drill for WRs could be improved. Often times I see a guy wide open but by the time I queue up the pass he’s moving directly towards a defender instead of staying right where he is, open. Make some intelligence where they try to get as far away from defenders as possible.

Playmaker is OP as CPU players don’t react to it very well to it. The playmaker chem makes centering an offense around it valid again like it was in Madden 16. There was a reason it was changed the following year.

Never stumble should be a thing on defense as users get tripped a ton. There is no chance to jump with defenders over downed bodies like there is with ballcarriers. Also, based on the standard camera angle It’s hard to see what’s in your way.

When trucking someone with a ballcarrier, the CPU still acts like the play is over on defense. Same with some other tackle animations. Players should stay pursuing and go for a gang tackle/strip animation or just try and bring them down as the truck animation plays out.

Vert hooks don’t match vertical routes like they should. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Call 4 verts from a spread or trips sets and watch. What separates vert hooks from hook curls? Both of them seem to end at 15 yards or so and a WR behind them goes unrecognized. A lot of times they basically become cones a couple seconds after the ball hikes.

Purple zones seem to be useless with the exception of showing us that’ll it’ll play match man in cover 3 blitzes or cover 3 match. They don’t cover as well as cloud flats so they are very rarely used online.

The Mid-Read zone coverage by MLBs is supposed to cover the deep middle in a cover 2 but it allows WRs to get behind it. People have just switched to calling a deep zone for the MLBs to play the tampa 2 coverage like it’s designed to do.

There is no “hard flat” hook zone so you can throw drags under them.

Guys can reach their max vertical jump too easy. Like they can move, stop, jump 35 inches in the air and pick a ball off 10-15 yards behind them too easily.

The sidelines should be able to be attacked better in a cover 2. I thought 17 had a decent sweet spot to fit the ball between the CB and the safety.

Let me know if I’m missing any gameplay issues. Thanks

14 thoughts on “The Issues with Madden 18’s Gameplay – On Madden Blog #2

  1. DB alignment on press doesn’t work correctly and allows for free outside releases on most snaps. Run a lot of 2-4-6 double A and the outside CBs are almost always 1-2 steps inside the WR which allows for wide open streaks/fades/corners/outs regardless of rating differential. This would be awesome if it was adjustable globally if I want to stop slants specifically, but it doesn’t even do that so I’m not sure what the purpose of this inappropriate man-align feature is. For specifics using xbox, Y+RB for man-align, then Y+down for press, leads to the inside align instead of directly over the WR. If I then hit Y+RS Right to try to stop out breaking routes primarily, it does nothing, as this doesn’t change alignment to shade outside the WR pre-snap, and still allows the free outside release and doesn’t make up the ground on a corner or out route. User vs user CFM game where I was purposely running this play over and over to figure out a way to overcome this, and I couldn’t get P Peterson, or J Ramsey to stop a single out route in 1vs1 press mcov unless I manually moved the CB over 2 steps to be on top of the WR instead of inside.

    Safeties in mcov resetting pre-snap placement after you try and put them over the guy they’re covering is incredibly annoying. If you want to run cov-0 or cov-1 press and the db’s keep refusing to stay aligned at the LoS so that the press actually happens it makes the play kind of useless. I don’t want the SS lined up 10 yards away from the LoS when guarding the TE or slot wr. I want to prevent the quick slant so the blitz gets there before the deeper routes like a corner can develop. In exchange, I’m happy to get beat for over-committing to killing the slant by letting the db trail the TE or slot WR if they run out to the flats or on a fade instead. Curl or slant the DB should have a good shot of being in position though instead of just instantly falling out of position as soon as the offensive player makes a change of direction to the inside.

    Overall Inside/Outside/Underneath/Sticks commit on passing plays for defense seems to be completely irrelevant. Use top tier CBs and they don’t press that direction or cover those types of routes any better than maybe 1 or 2 out of 10 attempts. Need this to work so when we know something is coming, we can actually stop it at the expense of giving up the opposite. Shouldn’t give up a slant 8/10 attempts when I have inside position, inside commit, pass commit, and Peterson guarding some 70 rated random WR.


  2. There needs to be behind LOS running back moves based on respective ratings. You should be able to hop cut, jump cut, etc to find your hole. YouTube Le’Veon Bell and Barry Sanders for clarity.

    Ball Carrier fake out animations may be OP but there should be much more variety than the threshold moves you get both before and after the LOS. Fakeouts should be more predicated on stick skills rather than a predetermined outcome.


  3. There needs to be behind LOS running back moves based on respective ratings. You should be able to hop cut, jump cut, etc to find your hole. YouTube Le’Veon Bell and Barry Sanders for clarity.

    Ball Carrier fake out animations may be OP but there should be much more variety than the threshold moves you get both before and after the LOS. Fakeouts should be more predicated on stick skills rather than a predetermined outcome.


  4. Lack of any sort of pre-snap action. There’s no cheating like guys do all the time in real life. Coverages and blitzes very frequently just all look the same.


  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. I tweeted Rex and Clint this: The field dimensions in Madden are too small. Because of this, spacing doesn’t become an issue for defensive players in Madden like it is for defensive coordinators on all football levels. Let’s look at some offensive plays that NOBODY runs. Spacing Concept; Stick; Slant/Flat or All Slants. Why do people not run these a lot?

    These are concepts in real life that force defensive coordinators to defend space. When you run these concepts in Madden the windows are VERY small and I’ve watched streams where guys have tried to run stick and almost always throw a pick 6. And it’s always against zone coverage. Here is the thing, if it is cover 3 or 4 we should be eating those coverages alive with these concepts. The only way to give the spacing concept trouble is to either qtr/qtr half it with some adjustments or just man it up. But nobody runs man in Madden and they can get away with not having to face the spacing concept spamming zones that really should get eaten up.

    Slant/Flat – this is actually a man coverage killer. But it also should be a problem for cover 3 and cover 4 but it is not a problem for the latter two in Madden because the OLB in the seam flat does not have to quickly commit to the flat and once the slant crosses his face you have to hold the football or else he’ll jump back on the slant. Again, the issue here is the field dimensions. If the field were wider and the WR actually lined up wider, then that OLB would have to commit to the flat route a lot earlier, creating a nice lane for the slant. Same thing against cover 3. The only time a cover 3 should be giving this an issue, looking at Madden coverages, is when you have two buzz defenders. You can have the safety dropping on one side and a linebacker on the other to cover the slants. But other than that if the spacing were in the game with respect to field dimensions this is something you’d see people use more.

    Stick- most of the stick plays in Madden have the back side slant with a table route by the HB giving you the slant/flat concept, which I just discussed so that should create a problem for cover 3/cover 4 and any man coverage (pending cb vs wr matchup – need to be clear on that). On the front side you have the option route or the stick, a flat and a vertical. If field dimensions were something defensive guys had to deal with in planning for a game there is no damn way you’d see guys in 3-4 Cover 3 or 4 base aligned and being able to stop this stuff.

    To me, field dimensions is one of the biggest issues that need to be addressed. It will open up the passing game and open up defensive play calling. You’d be forced to run man coverage against some things or just start popping pills. If the field dimensions were on point there is no way you’d see guys sitting in one defense, promoting it on youtube as a claim to fame.

    The other issue that the field dimensions would address in a big way is the user defender. With wider field dimensions the user would have to play his hand early on what he’s going to defend, just like a real NFL defender would have too. And there would be no getting back to defend something else down the field. Once you commit that would be it. In combination with the field dimensions, I think WR’s need to run their routes a little faster.

    Finally, to offset it so that the game doesn’t become overly offensive I think you’d need to speed up the pressure of the pocket collapsing. Or at least have the QB’s feel this pressure a lot more with lower awr qbs and those who do not have tight spiral trait and those who do not have the Force Pass Trait set to the best setting for it should be impacted immediately.

    I always go into Madden offensively asking how am I going to use space and I get frustrated because the space is just not there. I think if you go into practice mode, default camera, put the football in the middle of the field, run any play. Have the QB silence the crowd. Notice where the QB’s fingertips are in relation to the inside hashes when he does this. He’s pretty close to the insides of the hashes. This is too small field dimensions wise to me.

    I’ll say this and be done. I had a cfm game the other night and because I like to run the rock I had a guy line up in 5-2 most of the game even against my spread sets and defenders that were base aligned were still able to get to their spots to cover up the holes. If the field dimensions were wider he would have died or be forced ro run something else. Didn’t help I had to account for him running all around the field covering everything with Carlos Fields, 88 speed MLB for the Texans. But I digress …

    To me, one of the best things they can do is widen the football field.


  6. You nuts you spent most time saying what the defense needs in a game that’s hard to score and easy to play defense because of the zones… You never played football and you don’t no real football,,, in the nfl their are more teams who can play offense than defense … Madden needs to be a more offensive game it’s real football in the nfl and college


  7. Another thing to consider is making qb contain more consistent. I find myself playing against a scrambling opponent and my de still rush upfield and don’t contain. This is after the latest update of course.


  8. Cornerbacks do not play the run correctly corners are taught to always contain the outside unless there is a sure tackle corners in madden allow receivers to hold them and be driven to the outside never coming off blocks or recognizing the run. This is why toss and stretch are so op.


  9. I feel you shouldn’t be able to put LB in deep blues without a bigger punishment. I play guy who all they run is cover 2 and you can’t throw in to the sidelines bc they play it to well plus flats don’t work because they play that to well also. The LB get back there faster than my 94 speed WR so I can’t get anything open over the middle. Also another thing players don’t reacting is a big issues players will stand there and won’t jump for a ball or when I’m using a DB trying to stops a deep pass I’ll hit triangle and he won’t jump


  10. Really liked the post ,the game play issues that irk me are

    1.Unrealistic pocket QB movement.I feel the last year QB movement stick wasn’t the best but it was a start.I liked that I could flick up to make a edge blitzes over pursue while simultaneously moving up the pocket.They removed this feature this year instead of improving it ,which was dumb because navigating a pocket IRL is a very skill full thing and could’ve been scene just as cool as the ID the mike.
    * I feel a way they could bring it back and make it fair is to add a attribute to QBs called “Pocket Movement” where a player can flick the left stick up and do a little step up the pocket like before but how well it succeeds is based on the stat.
    *Another thing this stat and stick could do is be the escape the sack rating if you flick the stick well enough to avoid pressure .it would be a nice balance for not really elusive QB’s like Farve and Romo but who were great and avoiding sacks.

    2.I hate that I cannot change button mappings still.I hate having target passing at LT I would very much like to disable it and put low pass back there.Or why is dive and swat on the same button?

    3.I hate that there are ratings that are plaing useless,Strength,awareness ,(to some degree play rec),Ball carrier Vison which Im not convinced it does anything,Injury (though I understand the idea of this one)

    4.Read Option is Plain Broken
    *I dont mean for it to be OP like 25 and 15 but I would like to see it usable again.
    The QB run read almost never works and the reason it never works is because no matter how open the run lane is there will be a insta shed and you will get tackled in the backfield.
    now I understand the need to nerf it because of how it was before but how isn’t coach adjustments and playing the HB or QB and usering not enough.
    again I dont want it to be broken more like a average of 3-4 yards gained like how it is IRL with only rare big plays.

    5.Custom Auds
    *I know it just happened but I dont like that you cant save the auds outside of the game.Its really quite annoying .

    6.Player Positions
    We just plain need real positions. Wheres the Nose Tackle , Elephant ,Leo, 3 tech, Mike, Will ,Even Just calling “Edge rushers” that instead of DE or OLB would go a long way.

    7.My dream of setting Depth Chart Based on Formation would be cool.
    Its probably never going to happen but how cool would it be to have your “Base Defense” Line up then your Nickel/Dime Line Up. Just would be a quality of life thing.

    8.More Diverse Playbooks
    Every single year We pretty much only see the same 6 or so playbooks being used out of 32 + alts.I think Playbooks need more diversity and balance.

    9.Under Utilized Ability Chems
    this is literally the biggest way to diverse players. It took me like 15 min to make a a big list of Ability Chem Ideas I understand that there hard to code but they have so much wasted potential with this feature.It seems that right now there choosing to use these chems as band aids for problems like Unfackable fixing bad user mechanics.

    10. Chems dont make sense.
    The team training Chem and the Team Chem should be the same thing.The goal should be to reward theme team players.Why make a batch of chems that floods players to really only using Read and React,Ground and pound ,and Deep threat.??

    11.And Missing Features These are just a bunch I felt shouldve happened by now.


  11. There are a couple of things.
    1. There should be a custom playbook that can hold 800 plays. Clint said no because nfl coaches don’t carry that many.
    2. The quarterback should be able to easily throw the ball when a defender is within five yards. Also, the quarter back during certain plays is sucked into the line which is really nonsensical.
    3. There is too much defensive cheating when throwing streaks.
    4. The ball speed when throwing is too slow.
    5 linebackers react to unrelated movements before the ball is thrown whereby taking them out of position to make plays over the middle.
    6. Offensive line during run blocking get block Sheffield too easily when their motion should be moving forward for left and right. You don’t see block shedding in the real game nearly as much as you see in madden. It’s almost as if your offensive line isn’t even on the field.
    Lastly, the five yard increment is too narrow.


  12. Great article. Qb pursuit after Qb break the pocket needs to be addressed. Guys still rush towards original pocket even if in contain and sometimes can’t shed the block and or make a move to the inside when the qb is Cleary on the outside


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