How the NCAA Football 13 Demo Prepares You for the Full Game

How’s it going, college football fans?  Brian Parker here from the EA SPORTS Game Changers to talk about some of the lessons you can learn from the NCAA Football 13 demo as we wait for the full game to launch!

Just over two weeks ago, the NCAA Football 13 made an unexpected launch on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 during E3, giving college football fans the opportunity to try out both the Heisman Challenge mode in this year’s game as well as three match-ups in Dynasty Mode to test-drive the new “Studio Updates” featuring Rece Davis.  As we look forward to the “Season Ticket” launch on July 6th and the full retail launch on July 10th, here are some ways the demo can help make you a better player in the full game:

See the Game Like the Pros Do with “Reaction Time”

In the demo, you can place last year’s Heisman Trophy Winner—Robert Griffin III—on any of the six teams available for one game of the Heisman Challenge mode.  As you play the game, focus on how you can best use “Reaction Time”—triggered by the L2 button on PS3 or the LT button on Xbox 360—to slow things down and look for openings in the defense as the dual-threat quarterback who led Baylor to glory in the Alamo Bowl last season.  This new feature will be available for a number of Heisman winners in the full game, as well as for every player in Road to Glory; although Road to Glory players will need to boost their stats before they get access to as much “Reaction Time” as the included Heisman Challenge legends do.

On passing plays, “Reaction Time” can give you the extra time you need to see how the defense is playing against your receivers, allowing you the perfect opportunity to make the pass you need and move the ball down the field.  Even if your offensive line should falter, “Reaction Time”—combined with quarterback evasion moves on the Right Analog Stick—can help you dodge the defense and find open space for a pass attempt or scramble.  And don’t forget how useful “Reaction Time” can be on option plays; with gameplay playing out in slow-motion, you’ll be able to read the reactions of the defense and make the right decision to pitch to your halfback or hold the ball yourself as you turn upfield.

Don’t let your “Reaction Time” learning end with just practicing for Heisman Challenge or Road to Glory, however; watching the defense play out in slow-motion can help you learn how to read the defense in other game modes as well, contributing to your development into a points-scoring machine in NCAA Football 13.

Keep Your Options Open

One fundamental change to the control scheme of NCAA Football 13 comes with the change in Option offense controls.  Option pitches are now triggered by pushing the L1 button on PS3 or the LB button on Xbox 360, while fake pitches are triggered by pushing down on the Right Analog Stick.  Thankfully, the demo gives you a great opportunity to practice the Option offense using the Kansas State Wildcats and their dual-threat senior at the quarterback position.

Along with a new control scheme, tuning has been done in the Option game to allow quarterbacks to get the ball away even after contact has been initiated by a defensive player.  This will allow for a greater amount of control, mixed with risk and reward; getting the ball away at the last moment can set up a huge gain on the ground, but making the wrong decision can just as easily give the ball away and send your offense dejectedly off the field.  Nobody’s keeping track of your record against the computer AI in the demo, so experiment with the Option—even if you’ve never been a fan of it before—to see if you can make it part of your offense when the full version of NCAA Football 13 hits stores.

A Couple Steps at a Time

As a fan of football as a sport—and somebody who thinks the NCAA Football series could potentially be a great teaching tool for people wanting to learn more about it—I love the addition of new automatic drop-backs in the passing game.  The development team added over 20 new drop-back animations—including 1, 3, 5, and 7-step variations—which play out automatically if you don’t “override” them by pushing the Left Analog Stick to move your quarterback after the snap.  There are even drop-backs with pump fakes built in, as well as drop-backs specifically for screen passes; no more holding turbo and trying to outrun the pressure coming through on a halfback screen!

Of course, getting used to a change in the offense like this will require practice and determination to overcome the habit of manually moving your QB after a snap.  A highly-rated passer like the quarterback for the USC Trojans in the demo will help you get used to taking the proper drop-back—and moving around in the pocket—to improve the timing of your passing game.  Use as much of the playbook as possible in the demo to get used to how different plays and formations call for different quarterback movement after the snap; playing the game within the scheme developed for each play will help you find greater success.

Pass Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease

Even with these post-snap movement improvements, the changes to the passing game don’t stop there.  New pass trajectories have been implemented and pass controls have been tweaked ever-so-slightly to allow you to make the kind of pass you truly intend to make.  As you’re experimenting with different passing plays featuring different receiver routes, practice your ability to throw lob, touch, and bullet passes.  In NCAA Football 13, lob passes are achieved through a tap of the corresponding receiver button, bullet passes require you to hold the receiver button down through the pass animation, and touch passes have you hold the receiver button and release it before the pass animation is completed.  Try running the same play multiple times—targeting the same receiver—using each of the pass types to see how lobs, touches, and bullets fit into the offense.  It may take some practice to get used to these varying input commands, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with online in the full version of NCAA Football 13.

Total Control Passing—achieved by using the Left Analog Stick to lead your receiver on the pass—helps to augment the passing game as well.  One of my favorite receiver routes in NCAA Football 13 is the comeback route, thanks in large part to Total Control Passing; as the receiver turns and looks for the pass, I can put the ball exactly where I need to place it to avoid the defenders.  For example, pushing down on the Left Analog Stick will result in a lower pass that the receiver may have to stoop to catch, but it also can help to protect against an interception if the defensive back tries to jump the route.  With the three different pass types and the ability to lead receivers, you have numerous tools at your disposal to make sure your air assault doesn’t misfire.

Looking for the Play to Develop

Finally, the last major change to NCAA Football 13 that you can start getting used to in the demo comes with the new way that the receiver icons are displayed in the game.  Based on the play selected and the routes laid out for each receiver, the receiver icon may or may not be completely lit up after the snap.  After seeing so many quarterbacks quick-snap and throw to tight ends on seam routes—tight ends not even looking for the pass, who wouldn’t be expecting to receive a pass—in past versions of the franchise, it’s great to see the impact this change has on the passing game.  Dimmed receiver icons don’t mean that you can’t throw the ball to a receiver; simply that they’re not looking for the pass at that point in their route progression, meaning there’s a greater chance of your pass going incomplete, or worse.  That being said, lit-up receiver icons don’t mean that a receiver is open either; you’ll still need to read the defense before making the throw if you intend to complete it, otherwise your receiver might be looking for the pass as it settles in the arms of a thrilled cornerback on the defense.

As with every other lesson to be learned from the NCAA Football 13 demo, the key is repetition and variation.  The more plays you run, and the more receiver routes you watch, the better you’ll learn about what point the receiver begins looking for a pass.  If you can use the demo to establish effective timing on offense—from the snap, to the throw, to the route—then you will be able to dictate play nearly every time you get the ball.

Just remember that defensive players can also use the over 430 new catching animations added to NCAA Football 13, and they’re better trained than ever before to “Read and React” to the plays developing in front of them as well.  This year’s game gives you the tools you need to succeed, but you’ll still need to execute a sound gameplan if you hope to find victory.

We’re just two weeks away from NCAA Football 13 being available for EA SPORTS “Season Ticket” holders; can you take your place among the college football elite through practice using the demo?  Be sure to add some tips of your own in the comments below as the countdown to college football on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 continues!