A new promo, a title update and a unique limited-time addition to the head-to-head Madden Ultimate Team format all dropped on Tuesday, February 26, causing a chaotic, but sure to be fun, sequence of events for the Madden week.
Building off the real-life NFL Combine, which takes place February 26 through March 4, Madden Ultimate Team also launched their version of the NFL Combine promo, which will add another layer of new players for PS4, Xbox One and PC users and will headline NFL Combine Master Chris Johnson.
Johnson is the first MUT item to receive stock 99 Speed this season which has been a customary role for the speedy former Titans running back in previous iterations of this promo thanks to his record-shattering 40-yard dash (4.24).
Johnson previously received a 96 overall Legends item in the middle of January, but this version is an all-around weapon and will likely highlight high-end teams for some time.
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Johnson won’t be available until Friday, however, as a total of 27 items are needed in order to complete his set.
Different position groups will be released in intervals every day in accordance with the real-life NFL Combine schedule, and it’s expected a variety of different 97 overall position players are required in order to complete said set.
Tuesday’s iteration of the NFL Combine will feature running backs, offensive lineman and special teams players, with a total of six players receiving 97 overall items as a result.
We’ll spare you the imaging of the fullback (Jaguars’ Tommy Bohanon), kicker (Redskins’ Dustin Hopkins) and punter (Bears’ Pat O’Donnell), but the real draw is Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey, who receives a significant boost upon his 95 overall Ghosts of Christmas Present version.
Left tackle Garett Bolles of the Broncos and right tackle Brian O’Neill of the Vikings round out the final 97 overall items released February 26, but a plethora of lower rated offensive lineman and running backs will also trickle out of packs upon release, likely needed to complete higher overall sets, repeating the similar cadence of past promos
A plethora of solos will also hit Madden Ultimate Team in conjunction with the NFL Combine, with a handful more updating daily. While it’s unclear how the rewards will factor into the program itself, the expectation is that it will be well worth the time for every level of MUT player.
New House Rules
On top of that, a brand new House Rules limited-time H2H event also began Tuesday, once again dipping back into the Duos game mode. The main sticking point is that you’ll be competing against the CPU instead of another team, and you have to go 10-0 as opposed to 6-0 which has been the baseline in past weeks.
The new rules are entertaining and completely change the game of football, with the “three downs” rule likely leading to some new possibilities and variations down the line. But ultimately, the fact this will occur against the CPU, and thus not be terribly difficult, is a perfect “dipping of the toes” for EA, and will likely be one of the most played events in recent memory given users will receive a non-acutionable/tradeable Team MVP item, with "worst" of the group hitting 97 overall. It was previously stated on stream that the event would reward a NAT Honors item which would have been more lucrative, so it remains to be seen if a fix will be provided.
Finally, a new title update also surfaced Tuesday, and will be required to download if users want to participate in the LTD House Rules.
You can read the patch here, but the biggest addition is the “fumble risk added to ball carriers when using the spin move when hit in the back with a successful hit-stick tackle”. The convoluted recipe for fumblitis isn’t exactly reassuring for users frustrated with the current “spin-heavy” meta, but any change is better than nothing after six months of overpowered circle-spinning.
Furthermore, additional logic will be added to monitor how “de-syncs” occur. A de-sync, or “crash”, which automatically shuts down a random online Madden game, has been made infamous after it’s unexpected arrival during multiple six-digit prize pool Madden esports tournaments.
While those games were simply recreated to the correct score, a de-sync can completely ruin “momentum” in a given Madden game, which has been found in the coding to provide pivotal animations. It was, and is, a bad look for a franchise trying to build out its esports division, particularly since the issue has persisted since August, and also has been a nuisance in the more “casual” H2H experience such as Weekend League or MUT Draft.
The February Title Update patch notes are as follows:
General Stability improvements
- Additional logging to track online desyncs
- DEV NOTE: While our internal tracking shows that online desyncs are occurring at a very low rate when looking across all online play, we realize that any desyncs impacting higher level online competitions have a big impact on play-experience. We're continuing to work to drive down the rate, especially focusing on competitive formats and this tracking will help us identify the causes.
- Fumble risk added to ball carriers when using the spin move when hit in the back with a successful hit-stick tackle
- Addressed an exploit allowing users to avoid the Aggressive Pass Rush coach adjustment penalty by repeatedly shifting the defensive line back & forth in pre-play; defenders can now jump offsides while shifting
- Additional context added to match-up formula for catches in traffic; logic added for taking into account additional defenders who are within the proximity to either the receiver or the catch point.
- DEV NOTE: This change will reduce the effectiveness of Aggressive Catches in traffic by respecting the impact of nearby defenders relative to both the receiver and the catch point.
- Decreased the facing-angle threshold for the strafe animation added in a previous update to fix a manual Spy blitz exploit
- DEV NOTE: This change will make it less likely that a user will get into a strafe state when trying to cover a pass or pursue a ball carrier, but will still force the defender to strafe if trying to blitz the QB from a Spy or Zone coverage assignment
- Fixed an issue preventing touchdowns from always being awarded on fake punts and fake field goals when the snap receiver was the one who scored the touchdown
- DEV NOTE: This fix also fixes issues PS4 players have encountered in Skills Trainer regarding touchdowns not always being awarded correctly.
- Fixed an issue that could sometimes result in a player not being ruled down correctly when going to the ground after a catch in traffic
- DEV NOTE: While this will fix the most common occurrences of the bug, we have identified one edge case that is still possible to hit, but far more rare. We are continuing to work on a fix for that edge case and will have that resolved very soon as well.
- Made additional improvements to Cover 4 Quarters Trips logic in order to better defend certain pass route combinations.
- Addressed a press animation issue with the Curl Flat defender in Cover 3 which would occasionally lead to that defender not properly carrying out his pass coverage assignment