Madden NFL 18 introduces Longshot, a new story mode for the franchise. Devin Wade is a former quarterback from Mathis, Texas on a road to redemption with the ambition of joining the NFL. Devin is joined by his best friend Colt Cruise as they head for the NFL Regional Combine, the last chance if you will for players trying to get scouted and selected for the NFL teams.

Longshot features a cast of relatable, loved and even hated characters that made me more invested in Devin and his journey. Be it Ross Fountain and his ridiculous ego, Jack Ford with his high expectations or Colt’s fun-loving attitude, each character brought something new to the story with their different perspectives on american football and life.

The story puts you through the paces with various quick-time sequences and challenges. Reminiscent of the Telltale games way of playing, hit the right buttons at the right time, not to mention dialogue options that allow you to be the Devin you want to be. A much welcome addition indeed.

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Play Now Live is new and has you follow your favourite team throughout the NFL season, jump in at any point during the season in real-time, all with updated rosters. Play the real match-ups taking place each week and with the addition of new commentary it makes the mode feel fresh each time you play. After a game, you can then choose to continue with the team in Franchise mode, taking them through the entire season with the goal of getting to and winning the big one, the Super Bowl.

Ultimate Team is the bread and butter of the Madden series, build your ultimate fantasy team and test their mettle out on the field. You are given the option to play against the CPU in the solo challenges or go against other players online. The best way to improve your team is to keep playing, earning coins with each game which in-turn can be used to purchase new players. The chemistry system in place allows the player to think strategically about how they want to build their team, what players work best together, what perks are most important etc.

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MUT Squads allows for 3-on-3 Squad battles, the mode assigns unique roles to each team member, strategy is key and stick skills are paramount. Working with each other to accomplish the same goal is a great way to encourage people to come together and play on the same side as opposed to always going one on one against each other.

Diversity in its game modes allows for important choice to players to be able to do what they want, be it jump into the story, create their fantasy team, play as their favourite team, jump into some 3-on-3 action and more, there is something for everyone. The game gives you reason to play in all of its modes, the replayability is sky-high and I’m finding it difficult to put the controller down because I want to improve both my skills and my team.

Madden has never been easier to pick up and play, with three new play styles, Arcade, Simulation and Competitive, regardless of skill level anyone can grab a controller and go. Game difficulty further lowers the entry level but also raises the bar for the skilled. Both options can be changed at any point to allow for developing players to further their abilities.

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This instalment brings the boom when it comes to its graphical fidelity, the frostbite engine serving well in delivering stunning visuals. Longshot benefits from incredible facial capture tech, each character looks true to their real-life counterparts. Each blade of grass out on the field, the crowd and the uniforms on the backs of the players have all been designed with care, with the result of delivering an immersive experience.

From the soundtrack to the stellar voice acting, everything audio related works together. The roar of the crowds to let you know they loved the play, the commentary analysing your play that lets you know what could have been done better, the overall package of Madden has never been this refined.

STORY: 9/10
VISUALS: 9/10
SOUND: 9/10
GAMEPLAY: 8.5/10
GAME DESIGN & INNOVATION: 9/10

It’s easy for me to say Madden NFL 18 is the best in the series thus far, Longshot is a prime example of a great single-player story that can be included in a sports game. Ultimate Team is more robust than ever with a variety of ways to join in on the fun. A Madden for the experienced and the rookies, if you want to learn more about the Gridiron you can do so through this. Sounds great, looks better and plays the best in the series.

OVERALL: 8.9/10 – GREAT

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Madden NFL 18 on Xbox One, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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