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Madden NFL 25 features a focus on the running game

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EA Tiburon's top priority for Madden NFL 25 is delivering a better running game, one that lets players "unlock the power, precision and creativity of the NFL ball carrier," the studio said today in its announcement of the first gameplay details for this year's football title.

According to a fact sheet the studio provided to Polygon, that focus manifests in a number of ways. Tiburon is debuting a feature called Run Free, which adds a modifier control that lets players pull off 30 different ball carrier movies like stiff arms, jukes and spins. Run Free also entails a new combo system that allows players to connect those moves together for the first time to execute combos like a juke spin. It sounds like a setup with commands for specific chains of moves; to date, users have had to input each move in succession with different button presses or analog stick moves.

Tiburon is also upgrading the Infinity Engine, the real-time physics engine that first appeared in Madden NFL 13 last year. Madden 25 will feature the same version of the engine as its college counterpart, NCAA Football 14, which launches seven weeks before it. New to the Infinity Engine in its second version is the Force Impact system, technology that Tiburon says will ensure that moves like stiff arms feel more satisfying because they connect with their targets and thus look more realistic.

Like NCAA Football 14, Madden 25's collection of rushing improvements also includes a new behavior known as "ball carrier avoidance." It makes running backs smart enough to push off their own linemen and find new routes, instead of bumping into their backs and falling over. Tiburon is also promising improved targeting in run blocking, both at the line of scrimmage and downfield, and momentum-based cuts that require ball carriers to plant their feet when they change direction quickly. (For more on these shared features, see our NCAA Football 14 gameplay preview.)

running backs will be smart enough to push off their own linemen instead of bumping into their backs and falling over

Finally, Tiburon says it's giving players and the game's artificial intelligence better tools to play stronger defense. Defenders will take better routes when pursuing ball carriers, and will have the smarts to recover quickly when they're caught out of position. Bringing down an offensive player will also be easier thanks to "heat-seeker tackling" and dive tackles that are more accurate.

Check out the first batch of screenshots for Madden NFL 25 above. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are the only currently announced platforms for the game, which launches Aug. 27.