Saying that defense is not a priority in Madden NFL Mobile is a bit of an understatement. In asynchronous head-to-head play, you don't take control of your defenders at all, as the AI manages them while your opponent plays offense. When it's your turn, you play offense only.
Yet assembling a top defense is still part of your team-building duty, and for the new NFL season, Madden has made some intriguing changes to the way you give instructions to your defense by totally revamping the Gameplan system.
How does it work now? Read on and we'll explain.
How the Gameplan used to work
Prior to the 2016 refresh, the Gameplan was pretty simple. You picked a few plays you thought your opponent was more likely to call than other plays, and if they called them, your defense rushed through the line en masse and made it very difficult (but not impossible) to gain any positive yardage. Think what used to happen back in the day when someone "called your play" in Tecmo Bowl and you get the idea.
The problem was that made defense somewhat of a one-trick pony. Once your opponent figure out what plays you had planned against, he or she simply wouldn't call those plays again. All it really did was to take some calls out of each player's arsenal, and that's not really even close to how defense works in real life.
The new Gameplan and how to utilize it
Madden NFL Mobile now presents the Gameplan as a place where you can plug in a variety of Gameplan Items -- similar to Collectibles, except instead of plugging them into sets, you insert them into your Gameplan instead. There are five all-purpose slots, plus one each specifically for a Defensive Unit and Two-Point philosophy.
You receive a new Gameplan Item every time you level up, and you undoubtedly will be able to earn them through Live Events as well. All told, there are three different types of them, each of which affects your overall defense in a slightly different manner.
- Play Type items give you an improved chance to counter a specific broad category of play, like all runs.
- Position Group items give you a slightly smaller chance to counter categories of plays than Play Type items, but they also grant an Awareness bonus to one position group during a certain situation: Like buffing all MLBs on 3rd and long.
- Play Counters are like the old Gameplans, in that they counter a specific play all the time, along with giving a very small bonus to the category in which that play resides.
Thus, you can use the new Gameplan exactly like the old ones, plugging in five plays you'd like to stop. But a more interesting way to use it is to mix and match all three types of Gameplan Items to cover a variety of plays and situations your opponent is likely to favor.
At the top of the new Gameplan screen, you'll see a quick summary of the percentage chance your current Gameplan has of countering all four categories of plays: Run, Short Pass, Long Pass, and Play-Action Pass. But there's one additional layer of strategy to consider.
Keep or trade?
As you might already be saying to yourself, it pays to keep a big roster of Gameplan Items to defend against different tendencies, and the game encourages this by allowing you to save five different plans. However, you can also take unwanted or duplicate Gameplan Items and insert them into sets, swapping multiple common Items for rarer ones.
Together with the rest of the new options, this allows for a lot of flexibility and requires you to take some more time to think about how you want to approach defense. It's not the same thing as giving the defenders of the NFL as much respect as those offensive glory boys, but it's definitely a big step in the right direction.