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Madden NFL 16 Gameplay: AI Improvements and Penalties

Posted June 15th at 2:00pm.

By Madden NFL 16 Creative Director Rex Dickson

Part three of the Madden NFL 16 Gameplay Deep Dives takes a look at the game’s revamped AI, as well as all-new realistic penalties.



Our hardcore simulation fans have been demanding realistic penalties for years. The team finally made this a point of emphasis in Madden NFL 16, and penalties will play a bigger factor than ever before.

In addition to several new penalties being added, we have updated all pre-existing penalties and built a system to control penalty frequency.

Every player is assigned a Penalty trait based on real-world NFL data, which determines how likely they are to commit a penalty; an undisciplined player has a far greater chance of committing a penalty than a disciplined player.

Players’ in-game strategy has an impact on penalties as well.  For example, pressing cornerbacks are more likely to commit a defensive holding penalty, while goalline and max protect calls make offensive holding penalties more likely. Mistiming the “Off the Line” mechanic can easily draw a neutral zone infraction or encroachment penalty.

Finally, all penalty sliders have been updated to allow players to fully customize the experience to their liking. The Default slider setting is based on NFL penalty averages over the last five seasons to make both penalty type and frequency as authentic as possible.

The list of new and updated penalties includes:

Encroachment, False Start, Offensive Holding, Facemask, Defensive Pass Interference, Illegal Block in the Back, Neutral Zone Infraction, Defensive Holding, Illegal Forward Pass, Illegal Touching, Delay of Game, Kick Catch Interference Running into the Kicker, Unnecessary Roughness and Roughing the Passer.


As the Madden NFL franchise moves forward with its “Player Sense” theme, one of the biggest detractors was a lack of true head tracking for all players across all situations.

Madden NFL 16 includes added logic for QBs, RBs, WRs and defenders so that each head and eye track (the ball and players around them) uniquely based on their position.

Quarterbacks will scan the field for open receivers, ball carriers will alternate their gaze between incoming defenders, and players will track other players around them after the play. You may even see players looking up at the scoreboard on a breakaway run. 


The quality of player motion has been a primary point of emphasis for the Madden NFL team for several years now. This year, we made huge strides in pre, post and during play motion quality. This touches several major systems like huddle break, walk to line, pile get up logic, pile avoidance, post play path finding and more. When it comes to in-game animation quality improvements, the list is endless.

Players can expect a dramatic reduction in pops, warps, slides, and other issues in Madden NFL 16. This will continue to be a focal point for us as we strive towards our goal of animation quality.


In addition to all the new features being added, the team continue to address the feedback and concerns of our community.

A number of legacy issues have been addressed in Madden NFL 16, mostly around exploited mechanics or solidifying features meant to counter those exploits. Here are some highlights:

  • QB Spy logic updated (QB swerves the spy exploit)
  •  Flip the Play to speed up huddle break issue has been addressed
  • Out of position subs causing exploitable routes has been addressed
  • Rocket Catching / Mossing / DB Glitches have been significantly reduced and/or eliminated
  • A large percentage of the known “nano-blitzes” have been removed
  • The PA End Around exploit play has been addressed.
  • Route swapping exploits have also been resolved.
  • A variety of ‘money plays’ have been revised or altered.
  • Resolved the friendly quit glitch for Madden NFL 16

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more Madden NFL 16 deep dives, and be sure to check out more on this year’s gameplay.


Offensive Improvements
Defensive Improvements

Previous First Look: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in Madden NFL 15 Next Madden NFL Mobile Deep Dive: Defensive Strategy and Player Matchups

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