'Madden NFL 17' Latest News, Preview & Update: New Features, More Dynamic Special Teams Plays, Better A.I.

By Joe Marsalis , Updated Jul 08, 2016 07:11 AM EDT

"Madden NFL 17," this year's edition of the only professional American football video game franchise, is coming upon us, and it's high time we got a closer look at what's new with the game.

EA Sports Tiburon, the studio that has long been in charge of the franchise, had been hard at work refreshing a game that most critics have called stale in the absence of true competition. GamesRadar paid a visit to the developers and came away with the following news.

Players on the field have better A.I.

The A.I. on the field has apparently been vastly improved in "Madden NFL 17." For example, defensive linemen will now try to slip inside gaps left by their opposing offensive linemen instead of always trying to take on linemen bigger than them. Running backs also run their routes better, and the game can even assist you by showing you a path that adjusts in real time as the play unfolds, instead of just showing a possible path before the center snaps the ball. If you don't control the running back, then they have a better idea of where to run and slip into.

Special teams plays are now more dramatic

Field goals, punts, and kick returns are pretty routine in a game of football, and it's easy to just sleepwalk through them—except when the game hinges on a crucial kick, but that's only ever so often. The kicking mechanism in "Madden NFL 17" has now been redesigned to be a three-click meter instead of a simple one-stop meter.

It's now easier to play defense against punts and kicks, as you can now control a blocker that is now much more likely to block the kick and snatch the ball. It's now a small timing-based mini-game, and with the power to drastically affect special teams plays, players can now dramatically swing games in (or out of) their favor.

Franchise mode has been expanded

New additions have been made to "Madden NFL"'s much-beloved Franchise mode. The biggest feature is now the ability to simulate games for the most part, and then jump in to play crucial moments. This is similar to the simulation feature in the old "NBA Live" games, where you can simulate games by quarter and then jump in whenever you want to.

The option to sign free agents to a 10-man practice squad has been made available, and just like in real life, although you can sign them to that practice team, other teams can easily sign them to contracts at any time.

Other features include GM choices that have real consequences and benefits, a complete player editing mode, better feedback for coaching, a better player bidding and releasing system, and a fully-functioning, dynamic score ticker.

Better presentation

In addition to everything, "Madden NFL 17" might be the first game that finally feels like a real football game on TV. There will be over 900 different cut-scenes recorded for the game that display many players' different personalities, and they will be presented in a way that never feels like you're playing a video game—which includes dynamic and fresh commentary. It's so fresh, the commentary team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will reportedly record two new hours of new commentary for the game every week. (Fans who played hours on hours of the previous "Madden" games would have the stored commentary memorized, and EA used to recycle old lines, carrying them over to new games.)

Among other new things you have to know about "Madden NFL 17" is that 300 rookie prospects have been scanned for the game, so you no longer have to feel like you're drafting a generic, computer-created player. EA Sports also has a three-year plan set in place for the "Madden" franchise, already coming up with ideas for next year's game, the year after that, and the year after that.

"Madden NFL 17" is slated for release for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One on August 23.

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