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Upcoming Madden 21 patch will make drafting QBs more logical

AI teams will be more mindful of the QB talent they already have when drafting

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson juking a Pittsburgh Steelers defender in Madden NFL 21 Image: EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Madden NFL 21’s next big Franchise mode update will fix an area that players have long complained about: AI-controlled teams drafting first-round quarterbacks when the club already has talent, even rookie talent, at that position.

The new logic that’s coming says that an AI team in Franchise will “deprioritize drafting a first round QB” if any of seven conditions are met. Further, if a team has a starting quarterback over age 35, they’ll look at taking a replacement.

EA Tiburon, the developing studio, spelled out those conditions in a blog post on Wednesday, but didn’t say exactly when this patch would launch.

“Like real life, there can still be times where a team decides a player is just too good to pass up, depending on the situation,” Madden’s developers wrote. So the new draft logic doesn’t completely rule out bonehead situations; the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky IRL, after all.

The new rules say teams will take less interest in a first-round QB if:

  • Their current starter was a first-round pick in either of the two most recent drafts.
  • Their current starter was a second- or third-round pick in the last two drafts AND has a Normal development trait, plus a 72 overall rating, OR has the Star (or better) development trait.
  • Their current starter is rated 94 overall or better
  • Their current starter is rated 87 overall or better, and is 32 years old or older.
  • Their current starter is rated 74 overall or better, and is under 29 years old.
  • Their current backup quarterback has the Star (or better) development trait and is under 28 years old.

One rule increasing a team’s interest in drafting a first-round quarterback: If the current starting quarterback is over 35 years old, they’ll be interested in a replacement, regardless of his rating or traits.

The next patch will also deliver several requested tools and controls to commissioners for their online franchises. This includes the ability to undo free agent signings in the offseason; to set gameplay assists (such as Heat Seeker tackling, or player-switching assists) on a global basis, and level the competition field; and house rules governing how many times a play can be called in one game, or how long a player must wait before calling the same play again. Developers say these features have been long requested by the community.

In September, developing studio EA Tiburon said three significant patches would be coming to the game (beginning in November), and the next update is the second. A repair of the game’s overall trade logic will wait until the third patch, EA Tiburon wrote.

“To move forward on improved trade logic, it was important to acknowledge there wasn’t a magic quick fix,” developers wrote. Franchise mode’s player-trading has been long criticized, as either too easy to manipulate, or for delivering trades where teams abandon great players for no good reason.

EA Tiburon says it is working on “new baseline scales around player and draft pick values, by reconsidering every factor and modifier that is currently used in trades.” Developers are also addressing “top community exploits around AI trades,” and considering improvements or additions to how the AI evaluates offers from other teams.

It’s been almost five years since Franchise mode got a significant new feature, and the lack of change in the mode had even diehard fans angrily tweeting under a #FixFranchise hashtag back in the late summer. The three Franchise patches are trying to address the longest-running disappointments fans have had in a staple mode that’s mainly gotten incremental updates since 2016.

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