Madden 16 isn’t the most refined installment in the series, but it certainly has some of the best gameplay.
The typical gameplay options are present, from exhibition and online matches to franchise mode and more. The franchise mode is split into three options: Owner, Coach, and Player, all of which provide for different gameplay options and abilities based on the role chosen.
For example, the Coach gets to work with the depth charts and call the shots, but a Player doesn’t get that same luxury, as he’s limited to only playing his position in a career-following mode.
Possibly the most unique, interesting, and fun game mode is the Draft Champions mode. It’s like trading cards meets football. A base team of average (generally player ratings between 60-75) players is randomly generated. Then, three cards, each representing a player ranging from current players to some of the all-time greats, pop up. The player must choose one to add to the team. 15 rounds later, the player has drafted their core players.
The issue? If a QB pops up that is “just okay,” the player has to weigh the options, as a better QB may not come along. Then, the player might potentially be left with a random QB that’s only rated at 70.
Then, the team tries to rack up four wins without a loss; the first to occur signals the end of the run, and a new team must be drafted. More wins means more rewards which can be used to add players to the Madden Ultimate Team. The MUT is similar to Draft Champions, but is almost a sort of Madden 16 endgame. The team will get better and better the more the player performs different actions in Madden, and players can pit their ultimate teams against one another.
But, in all game modes, the gameplay is very balanced on both offense and defense, and that’s what’s ultimately the most important. In previous entries, the defense played inadequately and had trouble stopping the offense, but the playing field is much more evenly matched now.
Even better, each match-up feels like a huge, televised event. With the announcers, graphic overlays, crowd reactions, and stadium music, Madden feels more authentic than it’s ever been.
One caveat would be that although the commentators have good banter and sound more realistic than they usually do, they don’t have very many lines. The library of possible options are exhausted in just a few hours of play.
Even worse, they are occasionally inaccurate. They comment on interceptions that never happened or talk about running plays that we’re more effective than they seem to think. But overall, the general experience is very authentic otherwise.
The Madden 16 soundtrack is as good as ever and matches the tone of the game. Radio hits mix with hidden indies to create a nice blend of the known and unknown.
Not to mention, the graphics in Madden 16 are incredible, as far as the Madden series is concerned. Faces still look awkward and unnatural sometimes, but little details like beads of sweat, glinting sunlight, reflections, and shadows also add to the realism of the experience. Even the blades of grass are individually rendered, and they’re beautiful.
Unfortunately, bugs and glitches cause just as many issues as actually losing matches in Madden 16. My franchise mode (luckily I was only 4 games into it) bugged out and won’t load. One time, I was playing online and totally lost control of my team; the buttons stopped working. I once lost a Draft Champions match because the game froze while it was trying to load the game. On a similar note, the load times are usually pretty long.
As much as I want to heap praises upon Madden 16 for the best gameplay the series has seen in years, I cannot overlook the sometimes game-changing bugs, long load times, and small library of sayings for the announcers. For that reason, I give Madden 16 a 7.5 out of 10. The gameplay is there, and it’s solid. The execution, on the other hand, is not.