Madden 23 Face of the Franchise: Does no more college mean a better story?

The polite way to describe Face of the Franchise’s biggest problem is Madden NFL players just want to get to the NFL faster in the game’s single-player mode. In a word, in the past three years, they were forced to play through a slow-paced opening passion with cliché stories, amusing dialogueand barely made any progress.

Game producer Clint Oldenburg recalls in an interview at EA Tiburon’s new Orlando, Florida studio. “It was like, ‘I want to play in the NFL; take me there. ‘ […] And, here’s a big headline, ‘The story feels purposeless, pointless, and lacks context,’ something like that. That was one of the reviews. “

Whether it’s two problems or the same problem by different names, EA Tiburon will try to fix it by starting Madden NFL 23Face of the Franchise mode, The League, in the fifth season of the player’s career is created. No more college, no more drafts, no more going through half a dozen games locked on Madden’s easiest difficulty only to end up being picked up by the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars.

Face of the Franchise players will start after the end of their rookie contract, as a free agent who can sign with any team they choose. By my calculations, this will be the first single-player career mode in any sports title where a player is created to start as someone other than a rookie.

“This is the first year of reorienting what’s important in that regime,” Oldenburg said. In the three years since Face of the Franchise started two chapters of an authentic narrative modeMadden NFL 18‘S and 19‘s Longshot – the developers gave the story the highest priority, Oldenburg said. It’s a somewhat heavy admission, considering the stories I’ve sat through from Maddens 20 through 22.

“The most important thing this year is the core gameplay and progress,” said Oldenburg. “We took a more modular approach this year; you’ll be much less likely to see situations that stretch out, lacking some context of what you’re doing in your career. What we’re going to do is put you in a weekly loop that prepares your game, plays your game, gets your feedback and rewards from the game. “

Any cinematic content will follow the performance, and modularly, Oldenburg means those scenes will react to developments in the player’s career, rather than dictate to them. “So certainly, the cinematic content that you and I watch on our journey will be the same, but when you see it and when I watch it, it will be at different times,” he explains.

To be sure, a lot of fans are conditioned to see a fifth-year player as a star or a bust, not someone with a lot of room to grow (the whole point of the system, of course). degree this career) but still suffers from selecting his groups in free agency. “The story we’re trying to tell is whether you remember Matt Flynn [a quarterback from 2008-15] or Michael Turner [a running back, 2004-12]guys who didn’t have a great chance to play under their rookie contract, but when they did, they played really well,” said Oldenburg.

Miami's Tireek Hill makes a move to shake up the Patriots' defenses from the top of his reception route.

Interaction between receiver and back angle will be noticed in upcoming gameplay changes Madden 23and the designers hope Face of the Franchise will feature them as well.
Image: EA Tiburon / Electronic Arts

“So now that you’re a free agent, there’s a lot of buzz about your potential, but you never really had a chance,” says Oldenburg. The created players have new placement opportunities, full-back, in addition to the back options of full-back, wide receiver, back-runner and full-back. They get a one-year contract with their favorite team, which means they have to pay attention to the depth chart and the attacking or defensive formation they choose. A New York Giants fan making a run might think twice about challenging Saquon Barkley, unless they think they’ll grow so much that management will hand them a new five-year deal. and their competition will be exempted or traded.

In this way, that one-year free agency contract works just as the prologue did in previous years; it only takes place in the NFL and ignores the pointless storylines and cameos that college has to offer. If a player goes to a team other than their favorite, as that team offers more playing time and better development, they will have the opportunity to sign a long-term contract, as a player. much better, just a year after joining.

This pushes players in the direction that Madden’s designers have sold over the past few years: an avatar that can move through multiple game modes and locations, ranking their attributes by class. and get perks to complement them. In Face of the Franchise, Oldenburg hopes the replay experience will come from getting that avatar to an overall rating of 99 in one location, then starting that mode again in a new location. While a career of 12 or more seasons is still possible in Face of the Franchise, players should be able to hit 99 over the next five seasons, he said.

And that will be bolstered by giving Madden’s “Club 99” – which the game’s marketers have touted whenever a real-life superstar hits that number – to both players. player is created. In this case, when they reach the overall rating milestones, they will unlock perks, cosmetics, and gameplay abilities for their character.

Oldenburg also hopes that Face of the Franchise: The League can become a showcase for many Madden 23change the gameplay of. “These game mechanics are built with Face of the Franchise in mind,” says Oldenburg. “Face of the Franchise: The League is now a real player-locked mode; we have removed full team control as an option. “

While the quartet’s new passing system and the new “360 cut” of the ball carrier are likely to be the most visible, Oldenburg has pointed to other gameplay nuances to bring life to the players. The mind does not see the ball much. For example, the wide receiver can hold both left and right triggers, and combine that with right stick moves, to produce more false positives, stuttering, and speed drops when running routes. theirs outside the transmission line. The full-back will take advantage of the new press defense mechanism, which Oldenburg likened to the defense of the ball in the video game basketball.

“We’ve had these in our game before, but they’re more of a rock-paper-scissors game where you’re going to pick a side, be on both sides of the ball, and see the interaction play out based on who played it. choose the wrong side or the right,” said Oldenburg. “These are more branching and reactionary mechanics where you can see your opponent’s movements, either way [the play] going on, and you can fork, for a small amount of time, to move in that direction. ” Players press the A/X button when they do their press range immediately, then point the left stick to the side of the court they want to dismount.

Overall, Face of the Franchise: The League seems like a stronger commitment to what makes a single-player sports career different and exciting, while removing the ingredients that have pushed me away. come up with a standard franchise. Oldenburg noted that the designers were mindful of the fact that many of Madden’s streamers and content creators still broadcast Face of the Franchise their careers, and what the developers wanted to offer them. It’s fun to watch as well as play.

The previous three FOTFs were not like that at all; they seem to be doing everything to stop me from continuing and their core experience can be dramatically recreated elsewhere with just a few menu tweaks. In other words, EA Tiburon could simply abandon this disappointing wrinkle in a three-year single-player career, and bring everyone back to the established superstars of the 10-year-old Connected Franchise.

They did not. We’ll see if what they’ve saved is worth saving when Madden NFL 23 launches August 19 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The game will also launch on the same day for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One, but the mode (and other features) isn’t available across platforms that rock.

[Disclosure: EA Sports invited Polygon and paid for its flight and accommodations at the one-day preview event at EA Tiburon’s studio.]

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