Madden 18 Longshot Mode is Suprisingly Emotional
Ryan Bloom / Nov 20th, 2017 No Comments
Warning: This article contains spoilers regarding the plot and details of Longshot mode in Madden NFL 18. Do not read this unless you are prepared to be spoiled.
Madden NFL 18’s Longshot, the narrative-driven mode new to this year’s version of the game, isn’t at all what you’d expect from a sports sim with the NFL license. In fact, the main character never plays an NFL game during the span of the six-hour campaign.
Instead, Longshot tells the personal story of fictional NFL prospect Devin Wade. Although Wade is at a crossroads in his life that could result in either becoming a pro or working in construction, the focus of Longshot isn’t on football. The plot follows Wade’s changing relationship with his best friend and fellow athlete, Colt Cruise, and his struggle to overcome the loss of his father.
Sacking Devin’s Demons
Developers describe Longshot as a “movie you can play,” which is an accurate description in that you will mostly be watching cutscenes and occasionally controlling how Wade responds to the people around him. Through flashbacks that occur throughout the narrative, players learn that Wade entered the University of Texas as a highly regarded quarterback but quit the sport after the death of his father.
This becomes emotionally gripping when players are transported back to Wade’s fond moments with his father, who was also one of his high school football coaches, which conveniently allows these moments to revolve around sport. Wade’s flashbacks put players in control of the character during high school games, with his dad soaking in every moment on the sidelines.
In his current life, Wade has been chosen as a participant on “Longshot,” a reality competition show where moving on means athletes are one step closer to achieving their dream of making the NFL. The show leads up to the NFL Draft, but in reality, the star of the show is still a longshot to hear his name selected on draft day.
Longshot is a personal journey for Wade more than a test of his football abilities. As he attempts to overcome on-field obstacles such as not being able to read defenses and a lack of experience calling plays, the deeper, intimate problems Wade struggles with boil to the surface, and it appears he won’t be able to overcome them again.
Luckily, childhood friend Colt Cruise has somehow charmed his way onto the Longshot crew, and he helps serve as Wade’s moral compass. Like Wade, Cruise has a pipe dream of joining the NFL, but he hopes to make it as a wide receiver. By joining the reality show, Cruise has attached his chances of making the NFL to Wade, and this creates the player’s most impactful decisions. Whether you choose to throw to Cruise in crucial in-game situations not only impacts Wade’s draft status, but also affects Cruise’s prospect rating.
The weight of the journey to the pros and Wade’s personal demons cause friction between the two that ultimately leads to Wade’s breaking point. However, Cruise and Wade are able to patch things up, both as friends and as teammates, and his buddy’s support is what helps Wade unlock his talent as a football player.
It’s In The Game?
Despite a few annoying characters (looking at you, TV director Ross Fountain) and illogical events, Longshot’s plot is well written and terrifically delivered. Actors J.R. Lemon (Wade), Scott Porter (Cruise) and Rus Blackwell (Coach Jack Ford) give fantastic performances, while Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali makes the most of his few scenes as Wade’s father.
The main problem with all of this is that the actors outshine the gameplay, or the lack of it. Cutscenes rarely require input from the player, and the times where players must choose Wade’s responses often have little effect on the overall story arc.
There is a scouting report that changes based on performances and decisions that players make for Wade, but the narrative steers players in a certain direction no matter what happens during gameplay. All that’s really impacted is whether or not Wade gets selected in the draft, which occurs after all of Longshot’s story has played out.
However, between high school football games and no pad seven-on-seven matches, Longshot features some of the most interesting Madden gameplay in a long time. For the most part, you won’t be calling plays, controlling receivers or kicking off in these games; it is just you as Devin Wade. These moments are pure, to the point and fun, from the gameplay to the commentary. It’d be great to see developers build on these offbeat experiences for future iterations of Madden.
The Longshot Experience
Longshot surprisingly dives deep into a personal, dramatic story of the fictional Devin Wade. The plot probably isn’t realistic, but it is tender and grounded. Some clever plot devices create new gameplay experiences, even if they seem a bit farfetched.
The result isn’t what I was expecting from Madden’s Longshot mode. EA Tiburon didn’t just throw some cutscenes into a career mode where you have to grind to get your stats up. Longshot is an entirely different experience that stands on its own.
tags: Longshot Review , Madden 18 , Madden 18 Longshot , Madden NFL 18 , opinion