The best new feature in 'Madden 17' has nothing to do with playing football
People play the "Madden" video games because they want to live out their championship dreams on the virtual gridiron. Luckily, with a host of great new features and enhancements, playing virtual football is as good as ever in "Madden 17."
But believe it or not, that's not the best part of this year's game.
Replicating the look and sound of an NFL broadcast is arguably equally as important as making the gameplay feel right, and "Madden 17" takes a big step forward with the addition of a new commentary team.
Here are the two guys who will be yapping about your on-field exploits in "Madden" games for the foreseeable future:
As a play-by-play voice for all manner of college sports broadcasts (namely Georgia Tech football, baseball and men's basketball), Brandon Gaudin is a relative unknown in the world of the NFL. Charles Davis, on the other hand, has made his name in recent years as a college football analyst for Fox Sports and an NFL analyst for the NFL Network.
They're replacing Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, an established CBS Sports broadcasting duo whose commentary had gotten stale in recent "Madden" games. According to EA Sports, Gaudin and Davis offer "unprecedented accessibility," which is code for "these guys can be around way more often to record new commentary."
The benefit is immediately clear after playing a bit of "Madden 17." Upon startup, the game prompted me to download a new commentary update, which was a bit jarring, but certainly welcome. Keeping the commentary timely with current events both in and out of football is a tremendously smart move.
In my first hour with the game, I was pleased with how fresh the commentary felt. As I marched down the field against the defense using intermediate passes to Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, Davis remarked about how "short and intermediate passing is a big focus of this team" and "Travis Kelce is really coming into his own as a player."
Aside from merely providing flavor to the proceedings, it also serves as something of a hint system. Gaudin and Davis would remark when the opposing defense was lined up to stop the pass, which I wouldn't have noticed on my own right away. I switched to a running play and moved the chains.
These things weren't missing outright from the previous "Madden" games, but they feel much more dynamic and helpful in "Madden 17." Hopefully it gets even better as Gaudin and Davis increase their in-booth chemistry in future updates and games.
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