E3 2018: Madden 19 seems nothing new, but PC visuals are stunning

Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts /

One of the best pieces of news coming out of EA Play was Madden 19 coming to PC. I had to try it out for myself to see just how much better it looked.

The most recent Super Bowl was like a Sophie’s Choice moment, but where you wanted neither team to win. As a Canadian Packers fan (have been for 15 years), seeing the Patriots money their way into another championship opportunity and Philadelphia verge on burning their city to the ground was a lose-lose scenario.

That didn’t dampen my time with Madden 19 at EA Play, however, as I chose the underdog Eagles to get to play what’s most important; the third-ever PC version of the game ahead of its release later this year. It’s something that EA should be doing with a lot more of their sports franchises, and it’s a sight for sore eyes.

As is a tradition with EA Sports, the changes to basic exhibition gameplay in Madden 19 are incremental, subtle and underwhelming. From the AI to the UI, everything seems at first glance like you’re playing last year’s version with a new coat of paint slapped onto it. Of course, this is just a demo version, but with two months to launch, it will be in the new gameplay modes that you’ll need to pay attention to.

Madden 19 screenshot
EA Sports /

However, viewing the game on a PC (using an Xbox One gamepad), you can notice a stark level of visual improvements. Stronger anti-aliasing removes most jaggies, a stronger lighting system makes player models really pop, and the stronger pixel quality is refreshing, even if it looks familiar.

One thing that is noticeably different in Madden 19 is when you score a touchdown. Thankfully, even with three-minute quarters, I found myself finding paydirt often, prompting the player to use the right-stick for one of the multiple celebration types. You can dance, you can showboat, or you can be a 60-year-old “good ol’ days” kinds of players that just acts stoically.

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Though it’s a subtle inclusion, it will certainly add a new level of multiplayer bad manners to Madden 19. It’s going to be hard not to get tilted when you have the option to play as a road team, score a touchdown and invoke the opposing team’s touchdown shenanigans. I want to see Terrell Owens spiking the ball on the Dallas Cowboys star levels of trolling!

The subtle changes are best appreciated by those who run the gamut of playcalling changes on the fly, as running backs and quarterbacks have some enhanced play options. Audibles are now more personalized to those running the plays, and halfbacks are more adaptable to glide along the offensive line’s bodies and deke in the open field.

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Though it didn’t feel great to see the Eagles win again, seeing Madden 19 on the PC was a treat of its own. We’ll have to see the changes in Ultimate Team and Franchise modes as they become available in the coming weeks, but it looks, feels and plays great as it stands. Good enough for PC, but the jury’s still out on whether you should buy in again on consoles.