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Madden 24 scraps dud modes for a return to Superstar and Rushing Attack

Face of the Franchise is done, and so is The Yard

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Madden NFL 24 returns this August with yet another promise of polishing the chaotic gameplay of 11-on-11 football — the core demand of John Madden himself — but also some significant changes to its suite of modes.

Gone is Face of the Franchise, the attempt at a narrative, single-player mode starring a user-created player that EA Sports introduced in Madden NFL 20 and iterated on since then. Instead, the old Superstar mode is back, producer Connor Dougan told Polygon.

“There’s a little bit of setup narrative through the timeline, but it’s really just about setting up the experience,” Dougan said. “But we now have tiered abilities, we now have real-time player grading, the stuff that you would expect in other sports games, the moment-to-moment feedback.”

It will more directly address players’ desire to play as a single, stud performer (at all positions other than offensive line or special teams), without storyline contrivances that never got any traction among the community and often interfered with the game-to-game action they really wanted.

This also means that The Yard is gone, as well. That was EA Sports’ attempt to extend a created player’s presence through a more casual and arcade style of football (with attendant customizations and cosmetics) somewhat in the mode of NBA 2K’s MyPlayer suite, or the NHL series’ World of Chel.

Unfortunately, as American football really does not have the kind of rec-league, pickup participation that sports such as basketball or soccer do, the attempt at a kind of sports lifestyle mode for the NFL fell flat. In its place in Madden NFL 24 will be a mode called Superstar Showdown, which is a three-on-three arcade-style game.

“It’s really about you, with two friends, getting together and playing some quick, fast-performing, avatar-based gameplay experiences as you build up your character,” Dougan said.

In addition to Superstar Showdown, EA Orlando is leaning back into minigames, both as a means of progressing players in both Franchise and Superstar, and simply because they are fun on their own. Dougan specifically cited Rushing Attack, a mode introduced in Madden NFL 2005’s “Mini-Camp” suite, but soon disappeared for reasons unknown.

“Everyone who remembers Madden fondly remembers playing Rushing Attack, and listening to whatever song that they remember from the soundtrack, and that was super awesome,” Dougan said.

Sports writers have waxed nostalgic about it; players have long requested its return, finally EA Sports is listening and bringing it back, along with 25 other minigames that will both serve as a kind of onboarding to playing American football, as well as a means of player and team progression in the Franchise and Superstar modes.

“Yes, it is used for training, and XP, and trying to give them more variety in terms of gameplay and that core loop of Franchise,” Dougan said.

This collection of minigames will also be available as a stand-alone experience, alongside the Madden NFL Skills Trainer mode, which likewise teaches players the game (and offers rewards in the Ultimate Team mode for their completion).

Otherwise, the greatest effort from Madden NFL 24’s developers seems to be in gameplay serving all modes. The trailer released on Wednesday shows more dynamic tackling and open-ended playmaking; Dougan said developers also focused on run blocking, especially run blocking at the end of a play, to deliver a more authentic and enjoyable experience in that portion of the game.

“We’ve added dynamic double teaming and chip blocks,” Dougan said — basically meaning more sophisticated blocking behavior where the players do more than just hit an assigned guy on the other side. “On top of that, we’ve also overhauled our open-field targeting system; we’ve also done a new system for pre-snap targeting, which is really there to make it more dynamic and stop exploits.”

More or less, Dougan is talking about offensive line and run blockers behaving more realistically, which is a constantly iterated promise in the Madden franchise. “In past Maddens, you might have seen your offensive lineman kind of changing their mind, or the receiver not making that block that you would expect them to make,” Dougan said. “That’s why we had to overhaul that system.”

Madden NFL 24 launches Aug. 18, and all of the features and improvements described above will be available for PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. Versions for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will also launch the same day.

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