Madden NFL 15 Deep Dive: Gameplay Improvements

Posted July 24th at 12:00am.

Written by Madden NFL 15 Gameplay Designer Ryan Glick.

Every year in Madden, the team introduces a few small features that slide under the radar compared to those big “back of box” features we implement into the game.

Being a hardcore Madden and former tournament competitor, some of these smaller changes are sometimes the coolest things to our hardcore fans. So with that said, I wanted to keep those diehard Madden heads in the loop with some of the less flamboyant changes we have made to Madden NFL 15.

NEW PRE-PLAY MECHANICS
For years, offensive players have had the ability to extend certain routes to the first down marker by using the smart route mechanic. In Madden 15, players have this same ability on the defensive side of the ball for their hook, buzz, and flat zones. By simply pressing Y, Y (Xbox One) or Triangle, Triangle (PlayStation 4) at the line of scrimmage, any defender in a hook, buzz, or flat zone will now drop to the first down marker to try and keep everything in front of them. The risk is that defenders protecting the sticks will not attempt to leverage a route that extends beyond the first down marker.

MAX PROTECT BLOCKING
This is a new piece to our slide protection system, and sets all tight ends and players in the backfield to block. This functionality replaces last year’s aggressive slide protection functionality.

Quick Tip: Using this functionality allows you to hot route multiple players to a blocking assignment in one command, and is a nice complement to the improved QB cadence change, as it allows you to avoid the QB’s delay in between hot routes. 

NEW PRE-PLAY COVERAGE ADJUSTMENTS

This allows players to dictate what type of coverage technique they want their defenders to play, something hardcore fans have been asking for. The four coverage types users can choose from when using this functionality are listed below. The only coverage assignments these adjustments do not affect are Deep Zones.

Underneath: Puts defenders in a trail type of coverage where they will try and stay underneath the receiver.
Overtop: Defenders will try and stay over the top of their opponent to avoid getting beat deep. The disguised cushion functionality from Madden NFL 25 has been removed.
Outside: Puts defenders in a better position to stop sideline routes, while giving up space in the middle.
Inside: Puts defenders in a better position to stop routes over the middle of the field, while giving up space toward the sideline.

Quick Tip: Using this functionality mixed in with our Individual coverage adjustments is a great way to throw off opponents who may be keen to your global coverage adjustments. Individual coverage adjustments are taught in skills trainer.

NEW QB CONTAIN MECHANIC
The QB contain defensive hot route has been replaced with a more realistic QB contain system that mimics QB contain behavior in the NFL much better that the old one.

The new QB Contain system consist of the following changes:

- QB contains are now called through the defensive keys menu, and are also built into certain defensive plays.
- The outside-most pass rusher goes into the contain assignment when a user calls “contain” at the LOS.
- Defenders in contain assignments now engage a blocker, which allows them to slowly collapse the pocket while protecting the running lanes outside the pocket.
- Defenders in contain are able to disengage from blocks quickly when a QB rolls out to their side.

BLUFF BLITZ
This is a new defensive hot route that does several different things based on the defender’s positioning on the field. This hot route can be found where the defensive contain hot route used to be.

- Defenders on the LOS that are hot routed to bluff blitz will guard the HB (If he is not already manned up) or drop into hook zone (If the HB is already manned up).
- Defenders off the LOS or in the tackle box who are hot routed to bluff blitz will make their initial move like a blitzer before aborting to play their previous assignment.

NEW MISCELLANOUS MADDEN 15 GAMEPLAY FEATURES

FIXED MAX COVERAGE DEFENSIVE EXPLOIT
Maximum coverage defensive schemes have often been overpowering in past versions of Madden. This year, running the ball will be very effective against schemes thanks to some tuning. If you are in a game and your opponent is dropping multiple defensive linemen into coverage, make sure you run the ball!

FAKE SNAP
Although this mechanic is not specific to Madden NFL 15, there is now more of a reason than ever to implement it into your arsenal. With user defenders now utilizing the all-new off the line mechanics, players can now use Fake Snap to get them to jump offsides. Fake Snap can be triggered by a user QB simply pressing RB (Xbox One) or R1 (PS4) at the LOS. But be careful! Fake snaps can lead to false starts from your offensive linemen.

IMPROVED ADAPTIVE AI
Pass plays in Madden 15 have been grouped into real-life football concepts that dictate the types of defenses each pass play should be successful against. When an AI QB decides to audible, they will audible to a play that looks to beat your current defensive call. This makes for the most challenging, adaptive AI that we have ever seen in Madden. AI QB’s audible frequency will be dictated by the player’s awareness rating, difficulty level, and the number of times the user has called the same defensive play. It's more important than ever to mix up your playcalling in Madden 15.

QB CADENCE DURING PRE-PLAY ADJUSTMENTS
This change has a big impact on competitive head-to-head play. Gone are the days of making several hot routes before your team has reached the LOS.

Players now see an icon, and will have to wait until their QB completes a Peyton Manning-like cadence animation before they can select their next hot route, smart route, or audible. This change should force a more simulation style of Madden football.

NEW DEFENSIVE PLAY TYPES
Playbooks have several new defensive play types that are new to Madden this year. They are:

Contain: These plays include built-in contain assignments, so the user is not forced to make the adjustment at the LOS.

Disguised Coverage Shell: These play types will have defenders align in a way that disguises their coverage type. For example, there will be Cover 4 type plays where the defense aligns as if they are in Cover 2, as well as Cover 2 type plays where the defense aligns in Cover 1. There are multiple new plays that use this new logic.

New Wide Defensive formations: In Madden NFL 25, outside run plays were considered to be one of the more dominant offensive strategies. In Madden NFL 15, players now have a variety of new “Wide” defensive formations that are built to stop those outside runs. These new Wide formations can be found in Nickel and 4-3. 3-4 has also been adjusted to better stop outside runs with linebackers setting closer to the edge.

KICKING GAME ADJUSTMENTS
Madden NFL 15 includes some long overdue adjustments to that help capture the significance of the kicking game in the NFL. Users will see the following adjustments with the kicking game in Madden 15:

Accuracy Matters: Accuracy wedge in the kicking meter now scales based on your kicker’s rating and the distance of the kick.

Kick Accuracy Rating: Kick accuracy rating now plays a major impact on the kicking game, and affects a kicker’s aiming sensitivity when moving the R Stick to the desired position.

Kick Power: The effect of kick power ratings (KPW) has been adjusted across the board. For example, players with a 99 KPW can now kick as far as a 64-yard FG, while a player with an 83 KPW can only kick as far as a 45-yard FG.

Wind arrow bug is fixed: The arrow showing which way the wind is blowing was broken in Madden NFL 25. This has been resolved in Madden NFL 15.

Authentic Wind and Weather: Wind has been tuned to alter kicks in a more authentic manner. Weather and precipitation now have a slightly greater impact on kick power and accuracy.

AI Kicking: AI Punters will more frequently attempt coffin-corner punts. AI teams will also no longer attempt FG’s that their kicker has no chance of making.

Kicking Arc UI: In previous Madden titles, all users had to do in order to trigger an accurate kick was flick the R Stick straight up. In Madden NFL 15, players have to flick the R Stick in the direction they want the kick to go in order to get an accurate kick.

A revamped Kick Meter has been added, complete with kick distance and landing spot visuals that help user’s assess where their kick is projected to go. When playing on Rookie or Pro, the kick arc shows the user the projected landing spots for their kick if it gets 100%, 75%, or 50% power, while the All Pro kick arc only shows the user the projected landing spot if they get 100% power. All visual settings are defaulted to off in All-Madden, and can be toggled on or off regardless of difficulty level.

As you can see, Madden NFL 15 includes a number of gameplay improvements that will help make this year’s game the most realistic Madden yet.

Preorder Madden 15 to see all of the improvements in action on August 26!