New Commissioner Tools, Dev Trait Tuning, & Playoff Bracket Coming to ‘Madden NFL 21’ Franchise Mode

EA has announced a slew of new updates arriving this week for Madden NFL 21‘s Franchise Mode, offering enticing new reasons to keep playing.

Leading up to its release, one of the biggest desires from the Madden community was for EA Sports to focus more on Franchise mode, their game mode that lets players run the franchise of their choosing by themselves or with friends. Since then, the developers have urged that new updates are coming to Madden NFL 21‘s Franchise mode.

Today, they’re finally ready to announce the first set of three major updates and features set to arrive this week. Plus, EA Sports provides a brief preview of their second update, launching mid-January. Here is everything coming to Madden NFL 21 Franchise Mode.

Dev Trait Regression Tuning

Star, Superstar, and Superstar X-Factors will now have desired counts that are treated as the “correct” amount of each Dev Trait in your Franchise (a new League Setting has been added for each Dev Trait to allow Commissioners to decide the right amount for your league experience, and default values match the roster count of Dev Traits that shipped in Madden NFL  21’s Preseason Roster) in the offseason, new logic will run to decide which players are eligible to regress. If there are more players at a specific Dev Trait than the setting says is desired, eligible players will be regressed in priority order until the target is met (in some cases, there may be slightly more than target after regression if no players were found eligible). If you prefer to play in a league where Dev Traits can’t regress, you can also turn OFF Dev Trait Regression in League Settings.

We also tuned the criteria to receive a Breakout Dev Scenario for all positions to prevent an overabundance of high Dev Traits after multiple years (and make sure we’re increasing the Dev on players who truly deserve it).

There will also be three new QB Breakout Dev Scenarios that can occur throughout your season and a league setting to turn all Breakout Dev Trait Scenarios ON/OFF. When Breakout Scenarios are OFF, users will only progress their dev trait by end of season stat rankings and awards.

Analysis: What EA Sports is saying here is a bit confusing. In essence, franchises will now have a new setting called Dev Trait Regression. With it on, the commissioner can go in and dictate the amount of experience in which a player needs to become a Star, Superstar, and X-Factor player. They will also have a function to cap how many players a team can have at those levels. If there are too many players, certain players based on priority will be regressed. 

Giving the leagues the option to manage development traits is a great addition to Madden NFL 21. Not only does it prevent players from buying or making truly God-like teams, it also gives players additional goals to work towards for players they truly want to hit higher Dev Traits, while letting others they don’t regress accordingly. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out when the update officially drops.

X-Factor Customization

Another highly requested community feature, we brought over our functionality from player mode that allows the player to alter the Superstar and Superstar X-Factor abilities on their players inside of Core Franchise as both a coach and an owner. Commissioners will be able to edit the abilities on players that are controlled by other players and the CPU as well. Abilities will continue to follow slot and OVR requirements per archetype, so a player must reach the OVR threshold for an ability in the specified archetype before they are able to apply it. All of this functionality occurs directly on the player card by clicking any of the abilities.

Analysis: So long as you have a commissioner that isn’t shady, this is a fantastic new feature being added to Madden NFL 21. If a player requests a different X-Factor trait for their premiere player, the Commissioner can just hop in and make the desired change. Although, I’d be careful and have strict guidelines on when this feature should be used, and monitor accordingly. Otherwise, it gives the Commissioner A LOT of power. that can easily be exploited.

Playoff Bracket

Starting Week 13 of the regular season, there will be a Things To Do item that takes you to the current playoff picture if the season ended that week including the seeding for each team that would be in the playoffs. Once Wild Card week begins, the playoff bracket will also have the scores of all games that have been played, and the box score available by clicking on the matchup. There will also be a way to access this bracket through the “schedule” button, with a new tile labeled “Playoff Picture”.

Analysis: Unlike the Dev Trait Regression tool, this new feature wasn’t really a must-have. However, it’s still a cool addition to the game. Before, players had to go into Standings each week to monitor AFC and NFC rankings to see where they’d be in the playoff race. With this, players can now finally see where they stack up in one easy-to-read bracket.

Player Card Career Stats

One of the top community requests for several years now, we added the week matchup and result of the game to each player’s season stats via their player card. We also added what team a player finished their season with on each year of their career stats via their player card.

Analysis: I can’t speak for others but I can’t say this is something I’ve desperately needed to make my Madden Franchise experience better. It’s a nifty feature, for sure, but not necessarily anything game-changing.

Retirement Improvements

In Re-Sign Players week, there will now be a Things To Do item that takes you directly to the Transactions screen sorted to Retired players to provide a quicker look into who is riding off into the sunset.

Analysis: Honestly, I don’t know why this hasn’t been a feature in Madden since forever. After every season, my league members and I have to go over to Transactions just to see who retired. This is a much more convenient feature and something that should’ve been around a long time ago.

All of the above updates will be part of the Title Update that launches on November 12, 2020. Below are all of the updates that are set to be part of the Madden NFL 21 Franchise Mode update in mid-January. A lot of them are pretty freaking cool, too.

Personnel Logic Improvements

New guidelines for CPU draft logic to assist teams in whether they should or should not have interest in drafting a first round QB. Addresses teams drafting two first round QBs in consecutive years, along with other roster-context considerations QBs a more authentic window to develop before a replacement is considered to be drafted.

Analysis: This is a necessary update, but I hope it isn’t limited to just QBs, because CPU-run teams tend to stock up on players at positions where they already have ample depth. This would allow teams to spread the wealth a bit.

Commissioner Draft Tools

Giving commissioners the ability to assign autopilot during the draft, along with pause/resume functionality. This has been a top community request for a number of years now.

Analysis: I just did a draft and I could’ve sworn the pause/resume function was there. In any case, the autopilot is a good way of quickly getting through a draft if another player is AFK.

Commissioner Controls: Undo FA Signings – Offseason Only

Commissioners are able to undo FA signings in the offseason directly through the transaction log. Simply click on a signing and revert it to send the player back into the free agent pool.

Analysis: Of all the mid-January updates, this is the one I’m most excited for. There have been far too many times in Maddens passed that we have all missed out on Free Agents for one reason or another. This will allow leagues to have a mulligan and try to get the player they want again and I am all for it.

Commissioner Controls: Team Override Settings

Giving commissioners of leagues the ability to turn on/off or allow users to keep individual settings for Heat Seeker tackling, Ball Hawk, and Switch assist – one of our top requested commissioner requests, this creates a way to level the playing field regarding assist features.

Analysis: I have mixed emotions about this new setting. I’m firmly in favor of players in my leagues having the options to play how they want to play. That said, this feature would allow players to even the playing field if one plays with these assist settings on and the other doesn’t. Although, I believe it would have to be a case-by-case decision, because if a 7-year Madden vet is playing against a Madden Rookie then assist features should stay on. For everyone else, I think you’d have to come to an agreement with your commissioner.

Commissioner House Rules: Play Cool-Down and Repeat Play Limits

After these settings made their debut last year in MUT and Superstar KO, House Rules became one of the most requested features for franchise players and we are incredibly excited to bring them to you. Take control as a Commissioner and dictate how many times a play can be called in a game, and how long a player must wait before calling the same play again.

Analysis: It’s a really good thing I’m the commissioner is all of my leagues. Otherwise, I’d be banned from using my deep playbook of Drag Routes. In all seriousness, though, as I said with other Commissioner Tools, if it is agreed upon by the rest of the league then this is a cool feature. Otherwise, EA Sports is giving A LOT of power to Commissioners with these two updates so far.

The second round of updates will take place in mid-January, following the release of Madden NFL 21 on next-gen consoles on December 4, 2020.

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RPG Gamer by Day, FPS Gamer by Night. Matt has been covering games for nearly a decade. The quickest way to his heart is discussing anything The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Naughty Dog, Bungie, just any game really. Also into movies, TV, travel, and anime.