‘Madden NFL 19’: Everything you need to know

Another year, another iteration of Madden. Madden NFL 19 drops on August 10 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, marking the first time the football sim will be playable on PC since 2007. Typically, the yearly jumps between Madden games provide incremental improvements, though there’s reason to believe Madden NFL 19 could be a substantial leap from Madden 18. Here’s what you need to know about Madden 19 ahead of kickoff.

Antonio Brown is the cover athlete

EA stretched out the cover athlete announcement longer than usual, but we now know Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will grace the cover of the standard edition. Brown, one of the best receivers in the league, will look to avoid the infamous Madden curse.

Recently inducted Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens appears on the cover of the $80 Hall of Fame edition.

Gameplay tweaks could improve realism

EA Sports hasn’t revealed all of the new features coming to Madden NFL 19 just yet, though it seems as if the focus is on making CPU-controlled players more realistic. For starters, zone coverage will receive an update. So if you, like many, have thought CPU players don’t properly cover space in zone coverage, there’s a good chance they will stick to their zones better this time around. In a similar vein, “Hit the Home” will assist CPU players recognize space between defenders, allowing them to move into gaps more efficiently. Hopefully that means CPU players won’t run right into blocks or defenders as much when there’s an opening near.

On the player side of things, movement will see improvements thanks to “One Cut,” a system that is said to let the ball carrier “stop on a dime.” In theory, this means that running backs and receivers will act more like their real-life counterparts in terms of making cuts and out maneuvering defenders. When you need a yard or two for a first down or to score, it may be safer to run the ball now with “Push the Pile,” which lets you push your blockers forward and follow behind them. This would be a stark change since in previous additions, running into blockers with any force often led to the ball carrier falling down. This forced players to avoid blockers and only look for gaps. That’s not realistic in short yardage situations, so hopefully this will be.

Franchise mode finally receives custom draft

The oldest mode in Madden is still its defining feature, so it’s nice to see a few meaningful changes in Madden 19.

First and foremost, franchise is finally getting a custom draft editor. Users can create their own draft classes to include past and present players each year. Essentially, you can turn franchise mode into a fantasy draft, if you so choose. The first draft class will automatically be created by EA, as it is every year.  This year, however, you can edit the class from top to bottom. Then you can get fancy and import draft classes, and there are bound to be plenty of ready made classes filled with future prospects, legends, and current players created by the Madden community.

In player progression, EA will take some of the decision making out of your hands, but in the spirit of realism. Once again, you’ll give XP points to your players, though you cannot choose which attribute to increase. Instead, player stats will upgrade with regards to their archetype, EA’s new way of categorizing players beyond simply looking at position.

Who are the best players? Meet the new 99 Club

Each year, it’s always fun (and sometimes infuriating) to see the ratings EA Sports has doled out to your favorite players and teams. Full player ratings have been revealed and can be searched using EA’s handy database. Additionally, seven players received an overall 99 rating, the highest possible score. Here are the seven members of the “99 club“:

  • Tom Brady
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Antonio Brown
  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Aaron Donald
  • Luke Kuechly
  • Von Miller

Offensive and defensive schemes have arrived

Madden has been criticized in certain circles for not supporting customizable offensive and defensive schemes. After all, before Madden monopolized the market, the NFL 2K games had schemes. Madden 19 changes this longstanding omission by adding eight offensive and six defensive schemes.

  • Offense: Multiple Zone Run, Multiple Power Run, Vertical Power Run, Vertical Zone Run, Run and Shoot, West Coast Power Run, West Coast Zone Run, Spread.
  • Defense: 46, Base 3-4, Base 4-3, Multiple 3-4, Multiple 4-3, Tampa 2.

Schemes should help users execute a more precise and well-rounded game plan tailored to their play style.

New offensive and defensive positions

EA still hasn’t added long snapper as a position, much to the dismay of the ten worst-rated players in Madden 19 — all of whom are marked as tight ends but are actually tasked with snapping a ball up to 15 yards through their legs (it’s not easy).

Seven new positions have been added to Madden 19, though.

  • Offense: Power half back, slot wide receiver
  • Defense: Rush right defensive end, rush left defensive end, rush defensive tackle, slot linebacker, slot cornerback

Ultimate Team has solo battles and streamlined upgrades

Ultimate Team, the fantasy-style mode that sees players build and manage a deck of football cards, has become a popular mode in Madden over the years. While many love it, it hasn’t necessarily been that accessible for casual players. Ultimate Team’s changes in Madden 19 look to remedy that.

First, Solo Battles will give players 13 weekly challenges against the CPU. Solo Battles will mirror the competitive nature of the PvP Weekend League and dole out comparable rewards. Each Solo Battle has three minute quarters and they cannot be restarted. Once you’re in, you either win or lose. The goal is to earn Battle Points, which rack up from both wins and your team’s stats. Each Solo Battle will pit you against a real Ultimate Team deck that has been pulled from the community.

EA has also refined how player upgrades work. Rather than navigating through the cumbersome set paths to increase a player’s rating, each upgrade ready card is clearly marked. You can simply click “Upgrade” and then spend in-game currency to increase a card’s value. To help with this streamlined system, EA added Training points, a new type of currency that you will presumably earn through play. Additionally, besides team chemistry, cards will no longer have pre-determined chemistry. Instead, you can unlock and choose each card’s chemistry, meaning that you will no longer get stuck with an amazing card that doesn’t quite fit your team.

Also, now that the upgrade system has been made easier, you won’t be able to trade or auction cards that have been upgraded. Don’t worry, though, you can revert the card back to its base form, regain some of your training points back, and then put the card on the open market.

Longshot, the story mode, returns

Longshot, the wonderful cinematic story mode that debuted last year, returns in Madden 19 as Longshot: Homecoming. The story picks up with Devin Wade in NFL training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, while his best friend Colt Cruise tries to get back to the NFL after personal reasons pulled him away from his dream. Longshot had a choice-based narrative the first time around, but your decisions don’t carry over. For instance, when we played, both Colt and Devin signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Longshot: Homecoming will have four times the football gameplay as its predecessor, which was mostly a sequence of cutscenes interspersed with choice-driven dialogue and gameplay sprinkled here and there.

You can also bring Colt and Devin into franchise and Ultimate Team modes after completing the story mode.

PC system requirements

Madden hasn’t appeared on PC since Madden 08. PC players excited to get back on gridiron will need to have the following system specifications to play Madden 19:

  • CPU: Intel i3-4350 or better
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX660 or better
  • Memory: 8GB of RAM
  • Hard drive: 40GB

The recommended specs haven’t been revealed yet. If you want to play Madden 19 on PC, you’ll have to purchase it through Origin.

What are the pre-order bonuses?

Those who pre-order the standard edition get one Elite Player of their choosing in Ultimate Team and five Gold Team packs. The Hall of Fame edition ($80) comes with all of the standard edition bonuses plus an Elite Hall of Fame Legend in Ultimate Team, a training pack, and seven more Gold Team packs.

The Hall of Fame edition also comes with three-day early access, so you can get started on August 7.

When does it release?

Madden 19 launches on August 10 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, though you can get going on August 7 if you purchase the Hall of Fame edition.

If you’re an EA Access member, you can start even earlier on Xbox One. Starting August 2, EA Access subscribers can play up to 10 hours of Madden 19 before it officially launches. Your progress carries over and if you choose to purchase the full game, you’ll get a 10 percent discount on a digital copy.

Updated: Added cover athlete reveal.

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