'Madden 25' makes defensive adjustments

I’ve messed this up countless times throughout the years: I’m blitzing my “Madden” linebacker, and just as I flick the Hit Stick for the sack, the virtual quarterback throws the ball. I quickly hit the button to switch defenders, but I do it so fast that it sends the cornerback I just switched to into the turf because the game is still calculating the Hit Stick I triggered a fraction of a second earlier when I was going for the sack.

Instead of a monster shot on the quarterback that forces third-and-long, I give up a long touchdown as the wide receiver high-steps down the field because my corner dove on a move originally meant for another defender.

“This has been something that has frustrated me and has frustrated users for a long time,” says Rex Dickson, "Madden NFL 25's" creative director and gameplay guru. “You’d flick the Hit Stick, press B to switch to the defensive back, and next thing you know, he’s on the ground. So this year, when you switch players, it clears the move buffer. The input you previously had is now wiped and isn’t carried over to the next player. That problem is finally gone.”

But that’s not the only defensive switch mishap that’s finally been addressed.

“Another problem was when you switched defenders during a pass and you expected to get the defender over the top, but for whatever reason, when you click on, you end up with the defender underneath,” says Dickson. “Because you’re expecting the defender up top, you’re hitting the left stick down, but when you get the underneath defender instead, by pressing down, you immediately steer him out of the play.

“So what we do this year with switch assist is, if your stick input is more than a certain angle off the direction where your defender is moving, we give you a buffer, which allows you to recognize which defender you switched on to. This enables you to see the direction he’s moving and prevents you from steering the wrong way. In reality, you won’t even realize this assist is there, but the more you play, the more you’ll realize that you’re not steering off the wrong direction like you used to.”

Once you switch to the correct player, virtual ballers will also find that the diving tackle has been significantly boosted, enabling you to take down ball carriers with a lunging swipe.

“If you’re running behind someone and chasing them, but they’re faster than you, you can dive and go after their ankles," Dickson says. "In past years, you would just fall on the ground and miss, but now you actually go after their ankles and you might clip the back of his legs and knock them down. Dive tackles are also a good way to beat a blocker. If you see a ball carrier coming, but he has a blocker in front of you, you know that if you keep standing, you’re going to get blocked, but if you hit the dive button, you’ll dive right past the blocker and take out the runner’s legs.

“We’ve also added a heat-seeker tackle this year to help you better hit the ball carrier. This is like tackle steering, where you hold down the X button for a wrap tackle or hold Hit Stick down as you steer in and you’ll get steering assist. What this does is, when a ball carrier cuts left to right, your defender will automatically orient his torso and pick a point on the ball carrier’s projected path, and all you have to do is hold down the button to get close enough and the system will finish the tackle off for you. What we found is that this makes tackling a lot easier on people, and they don’t miss as often as they did before.”