The Madden series has had many different game modes over the years, but one of the ongoing staples is always the ever popular Franchise Mode. Stated by the development team to be the most played mode, Franchise has sort of felt like the black sheep of the family over the last number of years with a lack of substantial updates that had led it to feeling very stale. This caused a massive amount of backlash around the release of Madden 21 last year, which led to the promise of updates throughout the year. Even with these fairly minimal updates, Franchise was still in much need of a revamping and that is finally happening in the upcoming Madden 22.
The development team at EA Sports recently held a preview event we were able to attend and they were very happy to reveal the major changes coming to Franchise in Madden 22. While the core of Franchise is still the same as the past in what it is, this revamped version comes with a new coat of paint and a ‘robust franchise feature set’ at launch according to Creative Director Connor Dougan.
One of those new features is that of Staff Management, which allows you not only to control the Head Coach of your team, but also your Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, and Player Personnel. This isn’t just as simple as hiring or firing them either, as each one now has a Talent Tree, which is literally an RPG skill tree. Using Staff Points, you will be able to unlock Talents for your coaches that will do things like specifically coach up one position and lead to them getting higher XP gains during games and more. Each Talent Tree for the coaches are not just one path either, as there are diverging pathways that you have to decide upon, which will require you to really decide what type of coaches your team will be run by all around. There are more than 60 of these in the game at launch and more will be added in after launch as well. Staff Points are earned in a few different ways, including by setting and completing GameDay Goals, which you can select each week.
Weekly Strategy is also another important new aspect of Franchise that will leverage Dynamic Gameday to become a core piece of the game mode. The game’s Next Gen Stats: Star Driven-AI is being used here to really push the single player aspect of the game to be as realistic as possible. This is because they mentioned that over 80% of the games played in the last years have been against AI opponents. Through Weekly Strategy, you can study your opponent’s unique strengths and weaknesses and select both an offensive and defensive gameplan, which really make each week feel different from the last. This sounds like it will be a big improvement on just going to the calendar and starting the game against your next opponent before moving onto the following week.
Taking this to another level, Weekly Strategy will also still play a part in your up to 32 player Online Franchise Leagues. The game will track the tendencies of each player and their team to create a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses for you to strategize for each week. An example given was if another player in your league is known for throwing the deep ball, you will want to set your defensive strategy to defend exactly that. Pre-game is not the only layer of usage of Next Gen Stats either, as Halftime Adjustments have also been introduced here as well. By assessing how your team did in the first half, you can make changes to your offensive and defensive strategies to prepare for the second half. Halftime adjustments are such a big part of football itself, so it’s great to see this finally getting added here as well.
Player Health also plays a role in Franchise in Madden 22, where you can adjust the practice intensity for your players and who gets the majority of reps. The Full Pads intensity that was shown off will provide that player with the highest Player XP and boosts, but also the higher chance of injury and less Fatigue recovery. This may seem like a minor feature, but it’s something that should be neat to interact with during the season.
Easily one of the most complained about parts of Madden 21’s Franchise mode was the game’s trade logic that was often completely broken in how it operated. While there were changes through updates, they were still disappointed. Thankfully, Dougan mentioned that there has been some trade logic tuning, but there will be a ‘robust offering’ post-launch related to the tuning of trade logic. Hopefully this pans out, as this was definitely a major problem last year in hindsight.
Another update to Franchise to make it feel more engaging is the Season Engine, which will introduce a series of rollercoaster scenarios that you will have to manage as GM and the coach throughout the season. There will be 35+ of these scenarios at launch, with more to come post-launch as well. This can include things like your star player retiring or something as simple as facing a hot opponent, where you get to make decisions related to them. Cinematics have also been introduced to Franchise related to each team to help make you feel like you are really making the decisions along the way as you play through the season.
One other change to Franchise is a brand new hub for the mode that makes it feel fresher than ever. Executive Producer Seann Graddy says this helps to “make the most important information you want to know more accessible and easier to use,” which is a much appreciated inclusion. With all of the new content this year, it will definitely be great to have an easy to navigate hub to access everything related to Franchise.
While it won’t be available right at launch, the dev team also revealed that scouting would be coming to the game. Graddy mentioned that this was the most requested improvement request for Franchise and they are finally going to be delivering sometime in September. This will include a much more in-depth system than ever before, which they said they will tell us more about at a later time.
Madden 22 will release on August 20, 2021 for Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Stadia. The Next Gen Stats: Star Driven AI features discussed in this article though will be exclusive to the versions on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5.