Year in and year out Madden draws hundreds of thousands of people to its midnight release and with regards to Madden ’16 for good reason – the 2016 edition is the best all around version to date.

Since 2010 the series became more than a sports or NFL game when it introduced MUT (Madden Ultimate Team). A fantasy like mode where you auction, buy, earn and trade cards to build your ultimate team. Each card can be players you truly love, players of great fame, certain styles or just players with the highest rating.

MUT adds a lot more depth and fun factor to the storied franchise.

Family Friendly Score 4.5
4.5Game play
4.5Graphics
4.5Sound
5Replay
5Teamwork
4Age

Madden ’16 also offers a lot for the Madden “Noob” and for the frustrated casual Madden fan — with regulars like MUT, Online Head-To-Head, Play Now, Practice and Skills trainer — you now have an all new Franchise and the brand new Draft Champions mode.

Concerning the frustrated casual fan; Madden ’16 and it’s all new game-play features makes it much easier and more fun to play for those of us with “less than” skills. It’s also worth mentioning that with the Gatorade Skills Trainer mode you can learn to master (or something close to it) every facet of the game.

Of course there is no perfect game and while there have been many that have come close — there is always something that will grind your gears about a game and Madden is not the exception.

All-in-all the 2016 installation is a joy to play and can also become quite a time consuming addiction if you let it. While there are hours upon hours of game-play to enjoy, MUT, Skills Trainer and Franchise mode have so many neat nuances that makes each game and season more enjoyable as each mode progresses all while keeping you coming back for more. Just be careful when purchasing MUT packs, you can spend $20-$100 plus before you know it — and still be no where near your ultimate team. Trading and Auctions spice up this aspect of the game.

Taking a closer look at each aspect of the game instead of an “at-a-glance” look will give you a much broader appreciation for the rising Madden franchise.

Madden 16 opens to the usual: “E-A-Sports — it’s in the game” and refreshingly jumps right into the “press (whatever) button”. Unfortunately the loading screen which follows can take up to 45 seconds to load rosters, update things here and there and while the time seems minuscule, it can be quite annoying if you want to jump right into the game.

You’ll be asked to share info with friends and the NFL for a bonus MUT pack and also asked to update the roster — it will show a downloading screen, fear not it takes mere seconds on a decent connection.

After the initial set up, EA does throw you into the 50th Super Bowl introduction type game. The game is set between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals — go figure. The “playable opener” as it were isn’t like any normal game you’ll play within ’16 — unless of course one is so inclined to replay the mode which is spectacularly called “Super Bowl 50” as a mode located on the main menu screen.

In summary, Super Bowl 50 introduces you to Madden ’16 through video and game-play. The players had a fun time making it — as a lot of NFL players and stars are also fans of the game itself. One draw back is that you can’t exit the demo as you can in any other mode throughout the game — unless of course you decide to replay it later at which time you can play through or exit at anytime. You’ll control Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. When SB 50 closes you’ll be able to access the main menu soon there after.

Roethlisberger will guide you through a few screens. First you’ll pick your favorite team (which can be changed at anytime), choose your difficulty level (which can also be changed at any time — except in MUT), then choose new mechanics, madden basics or the title menu. LagDads recommends starting with Rookie if you’ve never played Madden or Pro if you have played Madden 25 or before. Learning the new mechanics and utilizing the basics/skills trainer to grasp the game and sharpen your skills will make for a much more exciting experience.

The menu screen will look familiar to those who have played earlier versions (25 and ’15), of course updated to look new and “sexy”, as it were. The layout is simple, easy to navigate but, some of the repetitive videos within mode blocks will busy up the title menu and can occasionally become annoying.

You can jump right into the action from here and we here at LagDads will help you get started.

 

Madden 16 gameplay has been lightly modified to show the player's own thoughts of this game.

Ultimate Team (MUT) – the fastest growing mode in Madden combines the classic fun of card collecting/trading with the rush of fantasy football — which makes a simple NFL game into so much more.

MUT starts out with choosing your “team” — essentially you’ll be picking the uniform you wear, on a count that most, if not all the players will not be from your favorite team. You can change this later as you collect more uniforms from packs throughout MUT.

Then choosing your team style. There are 8 Styles to choose from and, each player or card has a unique style (or two) depending on the player. You’ll only be able to start out using two styles, the one you chose and overall rating — which is essentially a default style setting. The third style will be available after your team has an overall rating of at least 85.

Now the real fun starts. You’ll open your first pack called a style pack. Nothing special (players-wise) fun none the less.

MUT main menu will then be revealed for the first time, a screen you’ll become quite familiar with quickly. The “host” will then quickly talk about objectives — which is a way to better upgrade your team without having to spend tons of actual money on packs.

After the brief introduction, you’ll want to go to the notification center. In the top right corner you’ll see the exact button to press for each platform. Then head to “Browse The Store” and spend your “50 Points” on the madden “Welcome Pack” (which will boost your team hopefully and you’ll only be able to buy one). Remember, points cost actual money, while coins can be earned just playing the game or selling cards you already own.

In MUT collecting cards can be done in three different ways: Playing solo or online challenges, Purchasing packs — which can cost coins or actual money (some packs can only be purchased with real money) and by trading with other Madden ’16 users.

There are other sub-ways of getting cards such as: Completing sets — this has to be done by playing and purchasing packs for the most part and MUT Gridiron Cards — which you’ll receive once a week and after that week will become overall 70 after one week rendering them almost useless.

Within Madden ’16 MUT there are three main game modes and one sub-category mode.

 

Solo Challenges – There are six sub-categories within solo.

NFL Journey – This mode is usually two quarters and all the way down to a few seconds left in the fourth quarter. Each section has 16 games you can play and run from Rookie – All-Madden in difficulty. Every game is a “Moment” from the 2014 NFL season or a “What-if” situation for the 2015 season — kind of like the opening of Madden 16 with Super Bowl 50.

Weekly – Very self explanatory. A section for weekly challenges. Could be a “Moment” game, a four-minute-four-quarter game, Team of the Week (where you’ll take on a certain team that is mix with the current weeks best NFL players) or really just anything the game designers come up with.

Gauntlet – Here you’ll take on each NFL team in each difficulty (Rookie – All-Madden) and after you face each team in each difficulty you’ll take on the Gauntlet boss — i.e. in Rookie you’d take on the Colts whilst being down 26-24 in the fourth quarter and you have 45 seconds from the 30-yard line.

Each game comes with a coin reward, some come with coins and packs the “Boss” comes with a “Gauntlet Master” reward.

Style – For this mode you’ll have to reach a certain style and a certain overall ranking in that style. There are four games for each style and each game increases in difficulty — each difficulty comes a player item and the last comes with a style “Elite Pack”.

Legends – Take on “Legends” of the past for player specific item rewards that can unlock very high overall players. Be warned, each game is All-Madden difficulty and has four minute quarters. Not for the faint-of-madden-talent.

MUT Master – Another one that is very easy to figure out. If you can complete the MUT Master set you’ll be able to play this game. All-Madden Difficulty, the team is rated 99 overall and has five minute quarters. Win this game and you get Odell Beckham Jr. with a 99 overall rating and a 102 spectacular catch.

 

Draft Champions – A mode to help earn random rewards for your MUT team.

This mode is very linear and lacks any hoopla as it were. You have two choices play online with friends (and random people online) or against the CPU. Both start you out with a draft, sort of. You have 16 (one coach round) rounds to pick your team and the CPU picks the other 36, so choose wisely. You have three choices per round and make sure you are paying attention to how many players you have drafted in each position — you don’t want to end up with three QBs and a bunch of low 70’s and high 60’s offensive lineman.

After all is said and done you’ll play three, three minute per quarter games (each increasing in difficulty from Rookie – All-Pro) in a “Draft Champions” stadium, your head coach, playbook and uniform and that is it. Nothing changes, nothing gets upgraded you just play very simple Madden ’16 games to earn MUT rewards — such as quick-sell for coins, contracts or players.

You’ll have to get three wins and can only lose one game. After you win three games, if you’d like to play again you’ll have to draft all over again and, so on and so forth.

Very basic but, if you have the time and skill this can really upgrade the team if you’ve completed all the MUT solo challenges.

 

Head to Head Seasons – A PvP MUT mode.

In MUT H2H you’ll play against other players online with your “skill” set. Why the quotations? H2H mode has more to do with ping and/or connection than anything and then when you add in the fact that a player can have multiple accounts and actually be a Madden “master” incognito makes this one of the least favorite yet most sought after modes in Madden lately.

 

Play a Friend – This mode is rather obvious.

Despite the self-evident name this mode is not accessible unless you have a friend/s online. Not to mention, just like Online Head-to-Head not a very fun mode as it can be unimaginably laggy and buggy.

All-in-all MUT is a very exciting mode. Lots to do daily, weekly and otherwise. Play well, bid/trade/collect smart and you’ll be a MUT master one day.

However, with all the bells and whistles you still have some flaws. Some of which we attended and a few others to get to now.

Trading is fun but…Your only choices are to place one single player/item for trade for another single player/item. No package deals or what have you. The trade time is silly, you have a choice of 6 hours – 4 days and in most cases traders won’t make an offer until about the one-hour mark. Not only that since there isn’t a companion app and most of us aren’t on Madden ’16 24/7 you’ll miss quite a few trades.

Auctions can be expensive and annoying. While you maybe able to pick up a 85 rated Antonio Gates for 5-10k you’ll be surprised to find that when you go to sell him after picking up a higher rated TE, you may not be able to get anything close to what you paid with out time and patience.

Bidding on auctions can also be long, tedious and full of glitching out. For example: You find a 91 rated Rob Gronkowski with one-hour left and only 3k for the card. You go to use the buy now option and someone at the same moment as you made the same offer and walked off with the card. You may also find yourself in a bidding war with one-minute left and bidding right after another person makes a bid and this goes back and forth for 10-minutes — then all of a sudden it won’t let you bid or says you don’t have the money and all of your effort is wasted.

I guess they do say: “Nothing worth it’s salt is ever easy to obtain.” That is Madden MUT in a nutshell.

 

Madden 16 gameplay

Franchise – A revamped mode for 2016, puts you in the shoes of the head coach, GM and owner.

To put it simply this mode is indeed fun but, if you’re looking for a simulation, keep looking.

While you can trade, buy, sell your way to a Super Bowl — the road there is very simple yet fun.

Franchise is where Maddens arcade style play meets a simulation-ish mode in the most laymen of terms.

You’ll start out with your team of choosing and it’s current roster. You will then play games to gain experience for the head coach and players alike and for draft points — which lets you unlock a players actual overall grade and get your GM and head coach ready for the draft each year (which can be simulated or you can make your picks). The coach can be an avatar you create or get stuck with your teams head coach.

Franchise can be played solo or with up to 31 other players in a online H2H mode and allows you to trade, pick up free agents, draft players and build a team (mostly) the way you would like.

While you won’t be able to make all of the decisions and the mode can seem very basic if your looking for something with just a little more oomph than playing exhibition games this is the mode for you.

Not a whole lot wrong with this mode outside of the aforementioned simplicity. The news section can be rather elementary. “Tweets” from ex-players, analysts and the like makes for a chuckle or two but, if you play the mode long enough you’ll see a repeat or 20 just like the play-by-play and color analyst during each game (in all modes).

After all is said and done, Franchise is a great mode in the 2016 edition. I found myself playing this the most secondary to MUT of course.

 

Gatorade Skills Trainer – The mode in which all players of all skills should start out with.

You can build your skill and you MUT deck just by completing an extremely long and extremely detailed tutorial mode. GST covers basics, new additions and everything in between.

By the time your done you’ll know more, have more and you may or may not be thoroughly relived it is over — that is if your a Madden “noob” like I am or maybe was.

The other two modes don’t take much to cover.

 

Play Now – An exhibition mode simple as that. Pick a team, a team to play against, quarter time, time of day and, what have you and that is that.

 

Online Head to Head – Play now meets online PvP Madden 16. Simple as that.

 

Practice – is just that, practice. Work on offense, defense and special teams.

If you want to practice and put your skills to the test the Gatorade Skills Trainer is for you. This mode will truly hone your skills and if it is your first time completing each series of training you can earn packs for your MUT team.

 

Manage Rosters – Tweak away at every aspect of the game.

Manage players, Sign Free Agents, Update Rosters, Order Depth Chart, Trade Players and Team Breakdown. Make the Madden 16 your own.

 

Customize Playbooks – Create each and every play for every NFL team on both sides of the ball.

 

Settings – From game play to controls alter anything and everything.

Gameplay settings, Social Sharing, Game controller, Terms of Service, Assign Auto Subs, EA Account, FAQ and License agreement.

Take full control and catch up on updated info for Madden and your EA account.

 

Share and Manage Files – Download, upload, delete and save to fill your hearts desire.

 

Madden Rewards – Keep track of all your goings-ons in Madden 16.

 

Creation Center – Design your perfect player and Uniforms. We all have to create the perfect “us” at least once.

 

Extras – A place to watch the credits and basque in the glory that is the creative minds of Madden or you can redeem a code or 10 that you have lying around specific to Madden 16.

 

Madden 16 has a lot going on and while the game play is more arcade than simulation if you enjoy sports, the NFL or any RPG style gaming this one should peak an interest.

Madden 16 gameplay

Game play

Ups:

First off you’ll have no shortage of things to do on a daily basis — whether it be a simple moment or a full TOTW game everyday will bring something new. Heck, if you have nothing else to do you’ll find an objective to complete Monday – Saturday and if you complete each objective each day of the week Saturday will reward you with your usual quick sell, contract and/or badge plus a Pro Pack. Not to shabby indeed.You’ll find no lack of things to do in the game.

As for the game play itself there is no sports game that matches Madden 16. Play as any player on offense or defense, from QB to C and DB to SS and all positions in-between. Madden even allows you to play as the HB or TE and the CPU will take over the QB for full control of the game from huddle to in-play you can control any and every aspect.

Least we forget the QB and WR mechanics. You can now throw a touch pass, medium touch, deep ball, low pass, in or outside to the receiver and bullet passes are great for catching in traffic. The passing mechanics come with ups and downs for each throw.

The WRs can now catch the ball regular, possession, RAC and Aggressive. Just remember every catch comes with it’s own set of pros and cons. While RAC may gain you a few more yards after catch you are more likely to drop a pass. Possession catches are great but you won’t see any yards after catch etc.

Picking plays on both sides of the ball can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like, just make sure you choose within the 10 seconds given for defense and don’t get a delay of game while picking the perfect play. Coach Suggestions, Personal, Play type and more makes being a Head Coach even easier.

Lastly between offense and defense the amount of little adjustments you can make before the play is simply fantastic. From shifting the line to better protecting the QB to making a single player on offense or defense do exactly what you want — you’re more in control than ever.

Pregame shows are straight forward and the play-by-play along with the color commentator are very simplistic but, keep the game slightly more exciting.

Downs:

Setting up each games in MUT, Franchise or Draft Champions is very one dimensional. Change the play call settings, toggle accelerate play clock, time of game and weather. Everything else is decided by the CPU.

The game physics can be spot on or way off, for instance; Players will early and often run into one another ending plays early and often. QBs will also toss the ball no where near the intended receiver from time to time. The ball itself will bounce unlike anything you have ever seen and sometimes end up in a receivers hand of the defenses hand but, be assured this happens only once every few games.

The announcers will repeat themselves quite often, say a player has the ball while it is still in the air or make the completely incorrect call. Jim and Phil will also tear you down for making a “bad call” while lifting up the computer more often than putting it down — no matter how great or terrible the call or play was.

During MUT and Franchise the game will sign out of the EA severs or freeze rendering the game you just played useless for any kind of stats or rewards. Both modes will all lead to the “Finish Game” screen and never load beyond that point either leaving you out to dry or having to restart the game. It is a toss up if the game saves the data or not. This can be more than frustrating especially after a hard fought game.

Here is a tip when playing MUT and trying to complete objectives you can play any finished rookie difficulty game. You will not get coins or cards (outside of what the objectives may give you) but, it sure is an easy way to complete objectives.

Graphics

Ups: Madden 16 is beautiful. From the opening to the play on the field. Stadiums and their backdrops are super realistic.

What really stands out is the play on the field. From running up the gut to the toe tip catch before going out of bounds is glorious. None more beautiful than the new catch system catches. From one-handed to possession the realism on display is quite breathtaking.

Downs:

Referees are silly looking, generic and the head ref is always the same and has the same bland look and movement. The refs voice is also subtle and very heard to hear unless you’re blasting it (as it should be).

After downs are completed when getting up each player on either side of the ball has a strange marionette like essence to him. I have never seen a human get up the way the players on the ground do. This is not the case for players running or catching the ball before the play is over, only after the fact. In fact a WR can catch a ball hit the ground and get right back up (as long as a defensive play hasn’t touched him) and run it in for a touch down — coming out of a pile is a different story.

Main menu screens can be busy and grow old quickly and while on the subject of the main menu, though beautiful, definitely has a lag to it when switching from screen to screen.

Lastly the broadcast part of the game is awesome and looks graphically radical but, will sometimes show you plays that you’d rather not see or maybe even could careless about. LagDads tried its darnedest to rectify the problem and well, we did it. When a highlight in the broadcast won’t let you push a button and move on press start (menu or options) and then resume play, viola!

 

Sound

Ups:

Music, crowd noise, on field chatter and play-by-play are all really awesome. Songs range from decent to really good (by Madden standards). All tutorial sounds are spot on and probably the best sounding part of the game

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Larry Ridley are the perfect compliment to an otherwise very nice sounding game.

Downs:

Play-by-play can be very repetitive and from time to time completely off the scope of things happening on the field. For example, the QB to the WR throw was deflected, Jim may start talking about an interception or a one handed catch, while that obviously isn’t the case at hand.

 

Replay

MUT, Franchise, Gatorade Skills Trainer and Draft Champions add a great replay dynamic to the game. MUT has daily objective and weekly challenges. Packs for MUT are updated weekly, Draft Champions “draft pool” is updated regularly and Franchise basically never has to end.

Replay value for Madden 16 is at its highest.

 

Teamwork

Ups:

Madden 16 lets you play with friends online (not on the same team) or offline with a friend or three. The epitome of teamwork is Madden 16. You’ll battle frustrations but in the end it is a team building experience you don’t find in many games. As long as your kids or friends can pick up a controller with novice knowledge of what each button does you’ll have fun if you can roll with the punches.

Downs:

Unfortunately team work is bound to the play now and practice modes.

 

Age

As was stated before, if you can pick up a controller and have basic knowledge of what each button does, you can play. My son is three and while he doesn’t completely grasp the game he can do a few things and his button mashing doesn’t end up hurting the game in the long run. No real pros or cons when playing as a team, just that age is dependent on video game knowledge more than actual skill.

Playing solo LagDads recommends at least five years of age. Online play will depend on how much you are okay with people and their colorful language. LagDads recommends at least 16 years of age. However, you can always not let your kid use a headset of turn off communications.

Lastly unless you are watching closely don’t let the little ones play MUT. They can very easily buy packs which can cost an arm and a leg if not monitored. The kiddos can also quick sell your players with ease. Just a few clicks and your 94 overall Keenan Allen is gone for 200 coins. LagDads recommends sub-account use for any and all family members in the home.

Sexuality – This may be a stretch for most out there but, the players do complete motions or dances after completing plays on both sides of the ball that could be flagged as inappropriate. The music talks about dancing, girls and the like. LagDads will leave the discretion up to each and every parent.

Violence – Madden 16 is a full contact sport and some of the hits can be brutal and players do get injured. There is zero blood and any injury can’t be seen. You will see a player crouched over or continue to lay on the ground but, no injury can actually be seen. The hits are hard and plentiful and, may not be for your kids but, LagDads will leave that up to you.

Language – Unless playing online and communicating with other Madden 16 users the only explicit language in the game comes from Phil Sims in the form of the word butt.

There is music in the game that can be turned on or off. Some have lyrics and some have only instrumentals. I have notice the curse words are muted out but, LagDads does recommend you listen to the songs to see if they are appropriate for you and yours.

 

As a whole Madden 16 is a sports/NFL game for the ages. It has it’s flaws but, its pros out weigh the cons ten to one.

Can’t wait to see what Madden comes up with in 2016. As long as they build on what they have this franchise has no where to go but up.

 

Verdict: Sports, NFL and/or ex-Madden fan? Add this gem to your collection.

 

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