How Madden NFL 15 Helped Us Love Playing Defense

They say that defense wins championships, but offense wins fans. And judging by how people generally play Madden NFL, it’s clear that football fans like scoring more than anything. And we get that: The joy in throwing that perfect touchdown is hard to compare to the, ahem, thrill of forcing a quick three and out.

But EA Tiburon changed all that, because the developer’s focus on Madden NFL 15’s defense has made it one of the most fun aspects of the entire game. The biggest change in this year’s game is the ability to camera-lock behind a chosen defender. It’s a simple camera shift, but it completely changes how you play. If you like to play the defensive line, you’ve now got your targets locked on the quarterback. But this comes with a caveat: As a lineman, you’ve got less of a sense of where the ball is being thrown, because you don’t get that view down the field, making it more challenging to rapidly switch to a Ball Hawk scenario.

These new defense mechanics are some of our favorite new features. Because for the first time, Madden NFL really gives you the tools to be an awesome defender.

Take the snap, for instance. Right as the ball snaps, you – as a defender – charge right off the line with a press of the trigger. Timing is key, and the game provides instant feedback on how well you performed. Fighting your way to the quarterback is a matter of maneuvering past the offensive line, and again, Madden NFL 15 prompts you with the right buttons to hit, giving you visual cues to help you get your timing down.

But it’s not all about the action on the line of scrimmage; the new tackling system affects every defensive player, from the left outside linebacker to the weak side safety. You have to choose not only who and when to go for the tackle, but how. Do you go for a safer grab to drag the tight end down, or do you leap at him – knocking him back on his ass, and maybe drawing a fumble?

And thanks to some new animations and celebrations, the post-tackle reactions look and feel more real than ever. Players hoot and cheer, flex and strut, announcing to the stadium and the world that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

The nice thing about the Madden NFL series (and football in general) is that you can choose how you play. But if you were one of those “sim past the defense” players, check out the new controls and experience the thrill of a crushing, momentum-stopping sack or interception in Madden NFL 15, out now for Xbox One and Xbox 360.