Hello Madden NFL fans, I’m Dave Searles (RedZoneD25) from the EA SPORTS Game Changers, StickSkills.com and Tradition Sports Online. June 4th has been marked down on my calendar for weeks, and I’m excited to finally talk about the all-new Connected Careers in Madden NFL 13. For those who know me (or don’t), I have always been partial to the career modes (specifically, Franchise Mode) in previous games, and I place a premium on both long-term enjoyment as well as a realistic simulation of the day-to-day life of playing for or managing your own NFL team.
As a member of the EA SPORTS Game Changers, I was invited to participate in multiple Madden NFL 13 Community Events at EA Tiburon. More than anything else I was blown away by the entire Madden NFL development team’s willingness to listen, communicate directly and oftentimes implement ideas brought up by the attendees via the Madden community. Markus “Emmdotfrisk” Frieske said it best in his Audio Community Blog, “The year-to-year strides we are seeing in the Madden NFL franchise are a direct product of the feedback from the community and the development team’s ability to accept constructive criticism to truly commit to delivering the most authentic football experience possible.”
In years past, there were three main avenues for career mode enthusiasts like myself to live out their virtual dreams: Franchise Mode let you build a legacy through the means of running a team, and Superstar Mode allowed you to blaze a trail as an NFL player. If you wanted to be strictly a manager, and leave the on-field action up to the powers that be, that’s where NFL Head Coach 09 came in. Connected Careers contains elements of those three types of play, yet is so much more than simply putting all three modes under one menu. What Connected Careers is at the core is an experience built from the ground up allowing a user to play however they want, with the same capabilities shared between the offline and online versions for the first time ever. Specifically, let’s discuss the finer aspects of what you can expect from Connected Careers on August 28th.
Being a head coach in the NFL is no easy task. The bar should always be set high, and building a dynasty isn’t an overnight process. Thankfully, the all-new XP system reflects that. XP is gained in a variety of ways, from completing practices and playing games, to meeting Weekly and Season Goals. Players can then use these progression points on attribute increases for anyone on the team. This new progression system brings me to one of the most debated features in recent Madden NFL titles, the hard-capped Potential rating. Take a deep breath and repeat after me: Potential is GONE! I was thrilled at the idea of taking a 7th round quarterback and building him into a capable starter, and it’s finally possible to do that.
As a player, you can enter the NFL by being a High Draft Pick (higher expectations in your goals), Mid Round Pick (average expectations), or Undrafted (lowest expectations). What you select affects your entire career since your Goals are a direct result of your expectations. You still get to increase your attributes via XP, but you don’t automatically start anymore. Therefore, it will be tough to get to the top of the depth chart if your chosen team has an entrenched starter already. Those who prefer to use a real player can choose from the entire NFL’s supply of talent, so just imagine the sort of expectations placed on the shoulders of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and the like. Whether you are coaching or playing, a main goal is to end up in the Hall of Fame, and one of my favorite aspects of Connected Careers is the ability to see how you stack up against both current players and NFL legends as you aim for the ultimate accomplishment in professional football.
A big difference in Connected Careers is that your job isn’t always secure. If you’re a player who had high expectations yet only minimal results, you could very well be cut. If no team wants to sign you then you can retire your current player and start anew. If you’re in charge of a team and you don’t meet your goals, you could be fired and have to rebuild your reputation in a different city. For years I have seen the community ask for a legitimate reason to play through practices and pre-season games and Madden NFL 13 embraces these elements, providing true incentives and consequences, and taking the experience beyond game day.
From a personal perspective, I’m incredibly excited about Connected Careers. I have always felt that while the old Franchise Mode was fun at the core, it took a decent amount of brain work to make your NFL feel unique. The XP system in Connected Careers ties you to your players in ways we’ve never had before, letting you dictate the flow of progress. Combining that new level of control with numerous other additions in depth, immersion and authenticity, Connected Careers and Madden NFL 13 are jam-packed with more to keep players busy than I’ve seen in my entire time as a football gamer.
Be sure to check out the official EA SPORTS Madden NFL 13 Webcast and Blog on Connected Careers for even more information on what’s new this year. If you have any questions for me directly, you can find me on Twitter (@RedZoneD25) and remember to check back on July 9th for the Madden NFL 13 Ultimate Team Playbook. Thanks for reading!