A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Families need to know that Madden NFL 18 is the latest installment in the popular, long-running football franchise. While football is a contact sport that focuses on punishing hits and harsh tackles, the players wear pads, and no blood or gore is shown. There's also no inappropriate content, although players will be exposed to loads of product logos, apparel branding, and broadcast-style presentations. They will also pick up on optional in-game promotion for purchases of Madden points and game packs for the Ultimate Team game mode. Parents should also know that online communication is unmoderated, so players can be exposed to inappropriate content in these games.
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What's it about?
MADDEN NFL 18 hits the digital field with new enhancements and expansions to its standard gameplay. This year, players have the option to select one of three separate control schemes. Simulation is the classic form of Madden that players have gotten used to over the years, while Arcade focuses on highlight plays and fast-paced action, and limits the number of penalties called. Competitive, by contrast, is based around the online and Madden tournament rules where players need to have perfect command of game moves to succeed. The Madden Ultimate Team has been augmented as well with a new feature called MUT squads. Here, you and two friends combine your fantasy decks to create your ultimate team, then decide to play as either an offensive captain, defensive captain, or a head coach of their team against three other players online. The Franchise mode has received a few updates, including a brand-new draft board to help GMs decide which players to select to improve their team. But the largest expansion is the Longshot story mode, where players try to get Devin Wade, a young quarterback who was once a star athlete at the University of Texas, drafted by an NFL team. Over the course of the story, players will discover what caused him to turn his back on his promising career, and will make choices that directly impact whether teams will give him a shot or leave him wondering about what might've been.
Is it any good?
The latest chapter in the popular football franchise enhances its gameplay while breaking ground with a new story mode. This year, Madden NFL 18 lets players tailor their controls to fit their level of experience. That means whether you're a newcomer, a veteran, or an e-sport player looking to improve your skills, there's something for you to enjoy. Another key feature is the inclusion of MUT squads, letting you and two other friends take on three other players with a merged fantasy mega team of your best players. This three-on-three game of football is loads of fun and expands the excitement of playing with other people online, but the main issue here lands on the Head Coach position, which only calls time-outs and handles penalties; otherwise, the decisions are nonexistent. That's fine for players who don't have a lot of experience, but when you contrast it with players specifically making offensive or defensive play calls, it's the shallowest part of this mode.
By far, the largest addition is the Longshot story mode, where players try to take Devin Wade, former high school star and University of Texas washout, from obscurity to the regional combine and hopefully an NFL team. The story lasts about four hours, does a good job of capturing the Friday Night Lights/Varsity Blues-like atmosphere, and presents a very likable cast of characters chasing the dream of playing in the league. Both Devin and his childhood friend, Colt (who's also his favorite wide receiver), are a good duo, highlighting the reality of deferred dreams possibly given one last chance to thrive. Without spoiling some story twists, there were only two parts of the plot that didn't work well. The story doesn't do enough with some characters. Some players are clearly meant to be rivals, but they pop up and vanish quickly without impact on the story. Similarly, a legendary athlete and a popular former player show up, but they are used sparingly, weakening their impact for Devin. The largest issue relates to Devin's football knowledge. It's understandable that he might be rusty after walking away from his college program, but the lack of concepts Devin demonstrates is unrealistic. The UT coaches wouldn't put him on the football field, much less let him start, if he couldn't grasp these details. It knocks the believability, but doesn't ruin the story, which lays groundwork for a follow-up next year. Overall, while there are a few stumbles, Madden NFL 18 comes together in one impressive package for this year's football season.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Madden NFL 18 could possibly get kids to be more active and play football outside. How can parents turn interest in the game into outside activity? Check out our blog on handling screen time with kids.
Madden NFL 18 packs a ton of branding and logos from different companies across the entire game, from the menu screens to the individual players. Is this heavy amount of branding an attempt to fully re-create the real-life sports environment, or do you feel like there's a large-scale attempt to sell to the video game's players?
Talk about the hopes and dreams of the character in the Longshot mode. What do you think about someone not giving up on their childhood dreams? Are there times when people have told you to forget the things you want to do in favor of something else? What did you do?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.