The mobile versions of the Madden NFL franchise still aren’t anywhere near the console titles in terms of depth and playability, but EA keeps tinkering with them season after season in hopes of making a breakthrough. This year’s Madden NFL Mobile still won’t fool anyone into thinking it’s a full-featured pro football game on a touchscreen, but it does improve on the previous disappointing effort in a number of ways.
What changes do we like the best? Let’s run down the top five …
No more paying coins to run plays
When gamers get upset with EA for its free-to-play strategy in mobile games, this is the kind of thing they’re talking about. Last season, there were certain options in the playbook you could only use if you ponied up some coins. Cash grab? Yeah, just a little.
Not so in Madden NFL Mobile. It still stinks that you have to level up many times before you can unleash the entire playbook, but at least you don’t have to pay for the privilege.
The virtual stick and button are the default controls
I’m no fan of virtual thumbsticks in most mobile games, and touchscreens are often crying out for a control system of their own. But those tap and swipe controls for Madden were a disaster and didn’t even make you feel like you were playing a real football game.
If you disagree, you can still use them, but they’ve wisely been banished to the options screen. Until EA comes up with something better, the virtual stick and button are the way to go.
Head-to-Head matchmaking is much better
There’s nothing quite as much fun as getting thumped by a team full of superstars owned by another player. Scratch that; there are actually tons of things I’d rather do than spend my time getting crushed in a game I have little chance of winning.
The tier system in Madden NFL Mobile helps make things a lot more fair, and if you don’t want to play someone, you can simply decline the challenge before you play your first offensive drive. You lose nothing, and your challenger still gets some XP and coins for playing the first drive if he or she scored. That works out for everyone.
Defensive strategies actually do something
It’s easy to ignore the defensive playcalling slots in the Head-to-Head Strategy section, but you shouldn’t. You really can make life more difficult for your opponents by slotting in plays they’re most likely to use, and if your team’s defensive awareness is high enough, it’ll call a counter play that snuffs out the offense a la old school Tecmo Bowl.
It’s still not as good as true multiplayer where you actually get to play defense, but it’s something.
There are more ways to earn coins
Madden NFL Mobile is just more generous than its predecessor all-around when it comes to coins. Everything you do can earn you some dough, and even trying and failing on challenges still gets you something — which is good, because the harder ones will have you failing quite a bit until you level up your team.
Coin Collectibles also pop up pretty frequently which you can sell without auctioning them, and many of the collectible sets have a coin reward attached. You shouldn’t lack for ways to earn this year.