Whereas the most recent entries in the series had one major focus, like defense in Madden NFL 15, EA says this year it’s “address[ing] all three phases of the game on offense, defense, and special teams” on Xbox One and PS4 (suggesting the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions won’t offer the same improvements).
On offense, players have access to new ball carrier controls. “We’ve added a tiered system to the types of special moves different players are able to pull off–depending on their attributes, ratings, and speed,” EA said in a blog post. “So now, expect your bigger bruising backs to be more effective with truck moves and stiff arms, while smaller, shiftier backs have more effective jukes and spins.”
This adds a new level of complexity to the game, and that’s why EA is adding new on-screen prompts to teach players how to use these moves. There’s also a new Path Assist option that provides tips on where to move. Lower difficulty levels will take some control out of players’ hands, instead having the game choose what special moves it thinks are right.
Defensively, players now have gap assignments on run plays that should help them to better cover runners. “Force defenders” will try to push ball carriers near the sidelines back into the middle of the field. Zone coverage has been “completely overhauled,” and there are eight new types of zone plays “never before seen in Madden.”
“Defenders have more awareness of threats to each zone and can pattern match receivers, creating defensive counters to stop virtually every passing concept,” EA said of the new zone coverages. “It’s our most realistic AI to date and it’s across the entire field.”
Special teams aren’t being ignored entirely. A new kick meter is being introduced that EA says “is designed to increase the challenge of the kicking game like we see in today’s NFL.” Players will also have ways to ice the kicker, as well as new trick plays and a new block kick mechanic that “add[s] new elements to the risk and reward of special teams.”
Little else is known about the game at this point. An overview of the game’s features on the official website offers the usual boasts about a new entry in the series. This includes references to a redesigned franchise mode that makes it the “deepest” version ever, a new perspective for playing the game, and new daily content.