Madden NFL 25 on next-generation consoles is more visually impressive than its current-generation counterpart, with details like crowds and sidelines rendered in full 3D — that much is expected. But in a brief hands-on session with the PlayStation 4 version of the game yesterday, we noticed some gameplay improvements that could turn out to be meaningful markers of the arrival of the next-generation.
Since E3 2013, developer EA Tiburon has been highlighting a completely new pass blocking system that's exclusive to next-gen Madden. It's something that's much easier to point out in a slowed-down instant replay, but we saw and felt the difference ourselves while dropping back to throw.
We were playing as the New York Giants, and our offensive linemen did their best to form a real pocket around Eli Manning. The tackles pushed oncoming defensive ends upfield past the quarterback, while the center and a guard held off a defensive tackle together — proper double-teams haven't previously appeared in Madden.
According to Tiburon, virtual athletes in next-gen Madden are imbued with a greater sense of their teammates, opponents and the environment. We saw receivers attempt to stay inbounds while making catches along the sideline, a feature Madden's developers have struggled to implement for years. Action on the defensive side of the ball is mostly similar, although we were able to generate a better pass rush than in the current-gen version of the game.
This heightened awareness also applies to non-playable people. Fans in the crowd in next-gen Madden have their own logic: They're able to react to 40 different types of events on the field, both in animations and in sound. It was exciting to successfully convert for a first down on third-and-long — as soon as I completed the pass, the Giants fans in the stands stood up and started cheering more loudly. Players and coaches on the sideline will react to players running off the field and barreling into them, and media photographers will move down the sideline along with the ball.
Madden 25 on PS4 will support Remote Play via PlayStation Vita, although that feature wasn't available for us to try during our demo. We also weren't able to assess commentary; the developers told us they were able to add in some deeper storylines that they had to cut from the current-gen versions because of storage considerations.
The PS4 version of Madden 25 will be available Nov. 12, while the Xbox One version will be released Nov. 19. And as for differences between the PS4 and Xbox One versions, associate designer Patrick Bellanca told us that he believes it wouldn't be possible to notice any even if you had them running side by side.