Although a lot of this year’s Madden hype revolves around Longshot, chances are you will return to a familiar favorite once the story mode runs its course.
Madden NFL 18’s franchise mode remains virtually unchanged from last year’s iteration. I haven’t noticed a single difference between the two, which means there are a few delightful exploits to take advantage of on the way to the hall of fame.
Before getting into the meat of this guide, which should give you all the tools necessary to dominate in your solo exploits, here is a quick rundown of how I made it.
First of all, I only play on the highest difficulty. Sports games are easy and should be treated as such. I also use 12-minute quarters. While other games have devised realistic systems that allow you to play with the real-life quarter length, Madden has not. I find that 12 minutes allows for the same amount of plays found in a regular NFL game. If you do 15, you’re going to throw for 600 yards and five interceptions.
Next, it’s important to note that Madden has one true exploit: While other sports franchises (FIFA, NBA 2K) punish your speed, agility and similar rankings for making a larger player, Madden does not. That’s not to say a 7-foot tall running back moves as quickly as one standing 5 feet 7 inches, but they would technically have the same ratings. Some positions can use this, and I will show you which.
And finally, always create your player as an early round draft pick. You will start with the skills necessary to do well as a rookie. The “increased physical attributes” you get as a late-round pick aren’t worth it. The difference between a speed statistic of 90 vs. 94 isn’t worth the all-around value of starting as an early pick.
Here are my specific breakdowns for most created player positions in Madden NFL 18.
Always create a mobile quarterback. I repeat: Always play a mobile quarterback. The costs of upgrading physical attributes like speed, acceleration and agility greatly outweigh improving the throwing attributes. You will start with a 95 throwing power, so spend your first six weeks or so upgrading your accuracy statistics.
Make him tall, as in 6 feet-6 inches or larger. This will allow you to see over most of the lineman when dropping back, and you’ll still be able to move quickly because the game doesn’t punish you as much for size.
You may want to check the offensive line of the team you wish to play for before creating your player. Adding a lineman or two to shore up any deficiencies may help. If you do this, make sure you select the “active roster” option rather than the “real roster” one when starting the franchise mode, or your changes may not save.
The Denver Broncos is an excellent team to consider, as it needs a quarterback and has two great wide receivers.
Start out the first week by leveling up short, medium and long accuracy and buying the “brace vs. all” trait, which helps you not fumble when you get hit.
When playing, there are a few things to consider.
You will throw interceptions. The All-Madden difficulty makes the opposing defensive backs into monster, so sometimes you just will throw picks. You will also take sacks, as this difficulty turns your offensive linemen into marshmallows.
But you can take advantage of a defense before the ball is snapped. The traditional way of calling plays means you select running plays on first down. Don’t do that. Try using a play-action or short pass.
Once you’ve picked a play, take a look at the safeties — the defensive players in the very back. There should be two of them. If there’s not, then one is likely blitzing or in coverage. Audible to something deep, and throw it in the direction the single safety is not — especially if you see that wide receiver’s cover guy up really close to him.
You should also take a look at what the defensive ends, the guys on the outside of the line opposite your line, do after you snap the ball. If they’re trying to rush to the outside of your tackles, stay inside the pocket created by your line. If they try to move inside, you’re probably going to be able to run it to the outside. If you have 10 yards or so in front of you, run it. Passing is always risky, even if your guy is wide open. Running for the first down is a sure bet.
When you do throw it, make use of Madden’s different passing options. Flicking the left stick forward while tapping a receiver’s button will execute a long ball perfect for deep routes, while holding the button is better for quick passes like slants and screens. If you can see where the defender is, flick the stick away from that player. Your receivers will drop a lot of passes. That just happens on All-Madden difficulty.
It’s important to note that your running back will be a complete idiot during this playthrough. He will never be good for more than a few yards. I like to complete 50 or 100 yards of passing before going to the running back, as the defense will no longer be primed to swallow him whole.
Quarterback allows you the most control in the game. It’s not a bad place to fall back on if you start to get frustrated with Madden’s horrible AI.
Like quarterback, go big here. Create a speed WR build and making him taller than 6-foot-6. You will be able to run past any defensive back, and you can jump over any of the defenders pesky enough to keep up.
Spend your first week’s experience points on improving the catch and catch-in-traffic statistics.
I’ve noticed a bug in the traits section of wide receivers. It may say you need to purchase the “run after catch” and “possession catch” features, but when you try, it fails. This means you already have them and can use them in game, so don’t worry about it. On PlayStation 4, the Square button handles run after the catch (useful for short passes or long ones where no one is near you), and X will execute the possession catch (useful when you are about to get hit).
Wide receiver is the easiest position to play in Madden NFL 18. You can ignore your route (the line the game tells you to run in). Just run straight to where the defense isn’t. Don’t slam the sprint button once you snap the ball. Wait until your player is near his defender, then press it to get away.
Some of the presnap tips I shared for the quarterback section are useful here. If your defender is right up on the line before the snap, he isn’t going to hit you then not chase you. As soon as you run past the initial contact, call for the ball by pressing x.
Slants, the route where you just run at an angle towards the middle of the field, are the easiest to complete. You can rack up tons of yards with slants. The go route — running straight to the endzone as fast as you can — is also pretty simple, but you will create a lot of interceptions when your mush-for-brains quarterback underthrows the ball. Accept this. You can’t do anything about it.
The speed wide receiver option also allows you to return kicks, which is an easy way to rack up yards and experience points. I like to always select the middle kick/punt return option from the playcall menu. Start running up the middle once you catch the ball, then look to cut outside depending on which side is open. The easiest way to get past a defender is to run at him at a slight angle then press the circle button to spin by him. Spinning has been king in Madden for a decade, and this year is no different.
Creating a running back is a bit more tricky. You don’t want the large-but-fast build, as you need all the speed you can get. I like to create a regular-sized guy of about 5-foot-10 with the balanced HB option. There are pros and cons to creating a power back vs. a speed back. Both have their strengths, so I split the difference. Again, you won’t notice much of a loss with 90 speed vs. 93.
Make sure you spend your early experience points on the “brace vs. all” trait and carrying, awareness, and ball carrier vision attributes. Your other attributes take a whole lot of experience to level up, so get that early boost, then start saving for things like elusiveness, speed and trucking.
Similar to the quarterback gameplay, you’ll want to avoid tradition. Everyone runs it on first down, so the AI defense will call rushes and put a safety up close to the line to break your neck. Run a play action or a simple pass. Your quarterback will typically look for short completions, which can allow you to run successfully on second or third down.
This build will also allow you to return kicks, which I have detailed in the above wide receiver section.
I’ve found running back to be the hardest position to play, as so much is out of your hands. Your offensive line will suck, so ignore where the play tells you to run. As soon as you get the ball, look for a hole. Once you get to that hole, slam the sprint button. Look to spin out defenders coming at you at an angle. If you find yourself caught behind a giant offensive lineman, flick the right stick either right or left (whichever looks more open) to sidestep by him. Flick it forward if a defender is coming straight at you.
This is pretty boring. Press the button that pops over your head when trying to run at the quarterback. It’s really that simple. Just press the right button, and prioritize the block shedding attribute.
Here’s a fun position that players often neglect. I have two suggestions: Either create a 3-4 pass rusher outside linebacker, or create a balanced middle linebacker who will look to eat up tackles.
With the outside linebacker, you will want to play on a team that uses a 3-4 defense. This means the team uses three defensive lineman and four linebackers, as opposed to the slightly more popular four lineman and three linebackers. You can figure this out by checking out the defensive playbook of a team, or just look at the depth chart. If the team has a lot of middle linebackers and only a few defensive tackles, they’re likely a 3-4 team.
Like the defensive line, you want to prioritize the block shedding and finesse move attributes. When playing, try to make sure your guy is blitzing most of the time. Run outside of the guy trying to block you, and be ready to press a button (it’s almost always x or square, so you have a 50-50 shot) when the blocker touches you. It’s pretty easy to rack up one or two sacks a game, which makes you a monster.
The middle linebacker is a little trickier. Here, you will want a 4-3 defense.
I like to go with mainly man-to-man plays, which means your dot on the playcall menu doesn’t have anything attached to it. You will almost always be the guy covering the running back, which is what you want.
When playing, resist the urge to slam that sprint button at the beginning of the play. If it is a run, you may just sprint past your man or right into a blocker. Think of it as playing the mirror of the running back. Wait until he gets close to the line, then when he commits to a hole, spring towards him and knock his face off.
Unless he is a bruiser like the Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart, flicking up on the right stick just before contact has a good change of at least getting the tackle if not forcing a fumble. If he is a power back, just press x to secure the tackle.
The only thing worth playing here is a playmaking free safety. Cornerback is super boring, and this option will also enable you to return kicks.
Playing safety isn’t easy. You will go through long stretches where you don’t do anything. But if you stay patient, you will have chances for both interceptions and bone-crunching tackles.
Make sure you’re picking plays where your player goes into a deep zone (the thing that looks like a speech bubble in the playcall menu). Standing back will give you the best chance at interceptions and touchdown-saving tackles. Look for the wide receiver who is running deep, and move to his area. Don’t press sprint until the ball is in the air, and don’t press triangle to intercept the ball too early.
This is a pretty fun option, as it allows you to play both sides of the ball a little bit. Be warned: If you get beat deep, you will want to die. It just comes with the territory.