22-Player Madden would change everything

Madden was made for 22 players

Full team play has become popular recently, with FIFA supporting the feature and EASHL one of the more popular features of the NHL series. Over on Kotaku, the idea of a Madden full team play came up, a natural progression, given how much of a team sport football is. It’s a good idea, it’s probably inevitable, it’s one I’d welcome. And it would complete change the way the way we play virtual football.

Position Controls Would Change Entirely 

As of now, offense and defense are fairly simple. Offense is a matter of throwing, catching, and running (and you don’t even have to do the catching on your own), and defense is a matter of stopping the guy with the ball, although Madden 16 has made strides on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive line play now involves button presses and this year saw the inclusion of several new defensive back controls. Still, it’s all about who has the ball.

Football is about so much more than that. Twenty-one of the twenty-two players on the field don’t have the ball, but it doesn’t mean they’re irrelevant. The offensive and defensive lines have their own battle, which changes depending on the type of play. Linebackers do everything from cover receivers to rush the quarterback, and cornerbacks and safeties have to keep guys from getting open, which, under the current controls, is extremely difficult. Meanwhile, offensive linemen have to block, wide receivers have to get open, and tight ends have to do both. All of these aspects are complex and multi-layered, and need to be turned into an engaging, playable part of the game.

The Skills Valued Would Change Entirely

At this point, everyone can play quarterback and everyone can play running back. Those are the key positions on offense and have been since the invention of the game. Defense is a little more varied, but linebacker and safety seem to be the more popular positions. However, the overhaul of the positions would leave them looking very different. Essentially, you’d reset which players are valued. 

Quarterback and running back would remain important, as you have to have the ball to score. You also have to be upright to throw the ball and you need holes to run through. Good blockers become valued. So do receivers who can get open. In response, players who can shut down the other side of the ball are valued as well. It’s not just about the fancy footwork you can do from the backfield. The trick for EA would be to make all those other positions worth playing.

It Would Change The Actual Game Completely

Are you sensing the trend here? Madden itself would fundamentally change with 11 players on each side. When only one player is controlling each side of the ball, the other ten players have to be automated. This leaves the offensive and defensive lines blocking for themselves, receivers running routes against CPU cornerbacks, you get the idea. When all of these position battles are determined by people, how does the outlook change? It increases the variables, and thus increases the potential for chaos. Multiply that by 22 players, and you might end up with a game that doesn’t look like Madden football anymore. 

None of this is necessarily bad. In fact, I think it’s probably inevitable, and if EA can get it right (not going to touch this one), I’ll be shelling out all my disposable income to get my hands on 22-player Madden so I can start practicing to be the best left tackle on the internet.

Published Sep. 15th 2015
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