In Part III of V in “What Would a 2K Football Game Look Like?”, we finally get to go deep into the game now that we finished establishing the base in the first two parts. If you missed Part I or Part II, they are linked below. NBA 2K17 has a really good MyGM mode, but there are some things that can be changed for an NFL 2K game. And anyone that has tried to play Madden’s “Franchise Mode” knows how much it’s lacking. 2K Football would fix that.
Part III: Franchise Mode
Part IV: Career Mode
Part V: “Ultimate Team” Mode
In Madden’s Connected Franchise Mode (CFM), users get the choice of an owner, coach, or player to start their career, which leaves the best choice out for many people (i.e. general manager). An owner or coach basically have the same responsibilities in CFM, expect an owner handles more of the finances and has the ability to relocate. Unfortunately, the mode is so basic and boring that it’s nearly impossible to get through a few weeks, let alone a few years.
Our hypothetical game would have you start as a general manager or coach, which includes being a coordinator and working your way up. It would be the user’s choice as to which role they want to start out as. Let’s break it down:
- General manager: Total control of the football operations, including drafting players, signing free agents, re-signing players, final say on 53-man roster, etc.
- Head coach/GM: Total control of the football operations, plus total control of game-planning, including distributing playing time, installing plays into the weekly preparation, etc.
- Head coach: Total control of the game-planning
- Offensive/Defensive coordinator: Total control over one side of the ball, including weekly preparation, and users would only play offense or defense as a coordinator
- Position coach: Total control over the position you coach
- Owner: Total control of the franchise, including relocating, changing uniforms, rebranding, etc.; can only be accomplished by either having an extremely successful career as a player (which we will get to in Part IV) or general manager/coach and buying the team (similar to NBA 2K’s MyGM mode)
Users would have the option to start as a position coach, coordinator, head coach, or GM. If starting as a position coach or coordinator, users would have to have a successful unit to get a chance to become a head coach after the season. There would then be an interview process where the user must impress the owner/GM to get the job.
As a head coach, it’s possible to gain control over the player personnel through having success—or even just convincing the owner that you should act as general manager, too. Be careful, though, as added responsibility could mean added pressure and less job security, especially for incompetent owners.
Unlike Madden’s CFM, a 2K Football game would have consequences, including being fired. For example, if you decide to start off as an offensive coordinator, and the offense does not live up to it’s potential, there’s a chance you are fired after a year or two. After that, you could get a chance to be a coordinator someplace else, but you might have to settle as a position coach.
On the other hand, if you coordinate a great offense (or defense) you will be the hottest coaching candidate that offseason, which could lead to being the first choice for many teams, and could even lead to a chance to unseat a seemingly “safe” head coach from a job you want. It would be realistic, though—you wouldn’t be able to take the New England job from Belichick, but the Jets might fire Todd Bowles for you to become head coach.
Don’t like how any of this sounds? That’s fine. You have the option to just be a general manager or head coach from the start, and you can even turn firing off and pick whatever team you want, but that seems unrealistic and could get boring. To be clear, you can be anything from the start, except for owner and head coach/GM combination.
Face scans would be a definite option for Franchise mode, and there would be dozens of generic face options for those who do not want to face scan. We would also have proper height weight dimensions, as “skinny,” “average,” and “fat” are not accurate enough.
It’s unclear why NBA 2K got rid of it in NBA 2K17, but previous games used to have suits, shirts, and other clothes to wear in MyGM mode. A hypothetical NFL 2K game would have not only that, but also a customizable office (!) depending on your role in the organization. A position coach won’t have that at first, for example, or it would be very limited.
The user would have the option to wear suits all the time, shorts and a hat sometimes, a hoodie, whatever. There would be different clothes for different times. For example, if the user wants to wear a suit for press conferences and during the game, but a hoodie and shorts when they watch practice or are just in the office, that would be possible. We would have options for undershirts all the way down to socks and jewelry.
As far as customizing the office goes, it would be similar to “The Crib” in ESPN NFL 2K5, which is pictured below, and there will be more on that in Part IV.
In Franchise Mode, the office would have wall options, floor options, desk options, chair options, and more. It will be realistic, including little things like a dart board or a hole to practice golf if the user so chooses. Perhaps 2K Sports would be able to partner with Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. and give different options for phones and laptops, or even televisions in the office.
Anyone who thinks the depth of all this is unnecessary, once again, that’s okay. You can simply ignore all that and take solace in the fact that the football side of the game will be deeper than anything before it.
Sunday (or any other time a game is played) is obviously most important, but a lot of football is won in preparation during the week. Bill Belichick isn’t one of the greatest coaches of all-time because of the choices he makes on Sunday, but because he prepares like no one else. In Madden 17, the extent of game-planning is getting some XP points after practicing against cover 3, or something along those lines.
NBA 2K’s MyGM gameplan gets more in-depth by the year, with this year introducing staggered minutes, or the ability to play certain guys in units with each other. For example, if you used the Clippers and wanted to make sure either Blake Griffin or Chris Paul was on the court at all times, the user is able to set it so that’s the case.
True football fans that attempt to play a good franchise mode year after year have surely been disappointed, as EA Sports has come up with nothing close to acceptable—even after promising a revamped franchise mode for Madden 17. The only apparent change was the addition of formation subs, which should not even count as an “addition” after it was in the game years ago and taken out.
2K Football would have not only formation subs, but everything that’s missing in Madden. Most importantly—and the reason Madden is almost unplayable for those hoping for a realistic franchise mode—is that there are no defensive assignments. Oh, you have a lockdown cornerback that you want to follow the opponent’s #1 receiver around the formation? Too bad, because something so simple is not an option in Madden.
Think about that. The Patriots are often used as an example because they are the gold standard, so let’s use them again. In this year’s AFC Championship game, New England had All-Pro CB Malcolm Butler shadow Antonio Brown around the formation with help over the top. Literally the only way to even attempt to do that in Madden would be to do formation subs before every play to guess where AB would line up. That’s a joke.
Our hypothetical game would have real weekly game-planning, giving the user a chance to prepare like actual NFL teams. Want to put a corner on Rob Gronkowski with help over the top? Great. Want Byron Maxwell to play whatever side of the formation Odell Beckham Jr. lines up on? Go ahead. They have an All-Pro left tackle but a weak right tackle? Let’s put our superstar pass rusher on the other side of the formation this week.
This stuff would obviously be the same for the offensive side of the ball; a person using the Packers against a team with stingy perimeter coverage might be wise to put in a lot of plays where Jordy Nelson plays the slot, for example. The fact that none of this is in the game makes it clear that EA Sports developers do not have the requisite football knowledge to make a good Franchise Mode—or perhaps worse, they just don’t want to.
Even something as simple as that would be nice to have rather than the mindless playing. NCAA Football games (made by EA Sports) gave choices about aggressive/conservative for playing the ball in the air, going for big hits, etc., but it’s never been in Madden. Knowing them, they will market it as some novel idea in like Madden 23.
Back to game-planning, if someone was a position coach, they would worry about their position, and a coordinator would worry about their side of the ball. It would be cool to have a point of emphasis (like NBA 2K), where a quarterback coach would be able to set it to “Take the checkdowns” or “Look for double moves” in a given week.
A really cool feature for those that really want to go in-depth would be scripting plays each week. Then, you would have a set of 12-15 plays to start the game, a set of plays for two-minute offense (or four-minute offense), a set of plays for a third and long, a set of plays for the red zone, and more. There are so many possibilities, and users can always just forget about that and call they game how they want.
Among the biggest holes in Madden every year is the exclusion of coordinators and position coaches. Look at the Atlanta Falcons this year; they would not be as successful offensively if not for Kyle Shanahan coordinating the unit. It’s a shame that someone wanting to play a CFM on Madden has to either stick with whatever coach they have or hire a generic, made-up coach.
In a 2K Football game, users that start a franchise as a GM or head coach would be able to hire a coordinator away from another team if they so choose (if the coordinator agrees). Even better, as a general manager, the user would be able to hire a coordinator to become the head coach. If you read Part I, you would have seen we have coach attributes and badges, so whoever the head coach and coordinators are would have an actual in-game impact.
Users would also have the ability to fire coordinators during the season if the performance of the offense or defense is unacceptable, which could spark the team, cause a collapse, or neither.
Similarly to NBA 2K, users would also have control over their front office, including the top football executives, scouting staff, finance team, and more. Through the interview process, it needs to be determined who you can trust and who might potentially stab you in the back.
Team-building is just as important as game-planning; if you don’t have good players in football, you probably are not going to win. Some teams like to build through the draft, some teams like to go after free agents, and some teams do both.
Free agency in a 2K Football game would have some heart to it, unlike Madden. There will be players who go for the biggest payday no matter what, guys that give a hometown discount, guys that want to go somewhere they can win a ring, and more. Our hypothetical game would have consequences based on the decisions you make—which we will get into next section—but just know a free agent can be rubbed the wrong way and make it so that there is no chance you can sign him.
The franchise tag would be able to be applied, and it could lead to poor morale for the player (or not). If they were unhappy, it could mean there is less of a chance they sign a long-term deal next offseason. Franchise tag trades would also be a possibility, though extremely rare.
Users would have to choose who they have a priority on when free agency begins. If you decide you want to have dinner with a big-time free agent on the first day of the league year, it could mean you don’t get a chance to meet with another free agent you may have wanted before another team threw tons of money at him. Maybe tampering would even be an option, but be careful about getting caught.
First of all, scouting would be as detailed as the user wants it to be. They can choose to use a draft board and fill it out themselves, leave everything up to whatever scout they hire, or do a little bit of both.
Hopefully there would be a way to get real college prospects, but that seems unlikely with the legal issues of the NCAA about paying the student-athletes. If not, the generic prospects would be randomized and realistic. There would be full college stats and backstories (both on and off the field), and like with the staff interviews, users would get a chance to see what makes the young men tick to see if they’d be a good addition to their franchise. A prospect with character concerns could be the next Dak Prescott or the next Johnny Manziel—it would be up to the user to figure out.
Before the draft even gets started, there is a lot of preparation that goes into it. We have the interviews and backstories covered, but what about on the field? There would be a Combine with full results, including prospects that decide not to participate, and also Pro Day’s. A top prospect running slower than anticipated at his Pro Day after sitting out the Combine could wind up being a big red flag.
For the people that are just worried about how the guys play in a video game, (because that’s what it is after all) they would have a chance to use the player in the Senior Bowl or similar game, and also work them out in a practice setting.
The actual NFL Draft would have blockbuster trades, draft falls, surprising reaches and more unpredictability like real life. There would be no “Superstar” trait for players or anything like in Madden, because the interviews and backstories—along with the situation they find themselves drafted into—would determine the kind of player they are in the NFL.
It’s no fun taking a quarterback with a “Superstar” development trait in the later rounds if you know for a fact they have the trait. There needs to be risk involved; there’s a chance you make a great pick, but there’s also a chance you fail.
The extent of making Madden’s CFM mode have decisions outside of who to play and what to call on third down are a few media questions that seemingly have no impact. Of course, things are different in NBA 2K, so they would be in NFL 2K, too. NBA 2K has press conferences where the media asks about ticket prices, winning streaks, outspoken players, trade rumors, and more. It’s very cool, but could be expanded, and would be in our hypothetical game.
Some important decisions to be made in press conferences would include commenting on job security, trade rumors, playing time, a quarterback controversy, potential relocation, and things like that. Whatever you say will have a definite impact, which could be for the entire league, organization, individual player(s), or the fans.
For example, if there are rumors the franchise is relocating to Los Angeles (because who isn’t nowadays?), you will be asked about it in a press conference. Denying the rumor could keep the fans happy, but if it turns out you are relocating, the fans will likely hate you and the team forever. As a more common example, if you are asked about next week’s rivalry game as a coach, you will have some options to answer, including admitting it’s a huge game, or downplaying it by saying “we’re trying to win every game” like Bill Belichick.
Even deeper, users would have to make decisions on player discipline, firing assistant coaches during the season, player concerns, quarterback controversies, and input on trades if you’re a coach without control over player personnel, among other things. There might also be opportunities to get traded as a coach or force your way out of town if you want a different job.
Handling the media and public perception is part of the job for a general manager, whether that is fair or not. If you decide to not reveal things in cities like Philadelphia or New York—leading to a poor relationship with the local media—you better win to keep your job.
Madden's relocation process is not deep enough to make it something users really want to do. There are set cities and team names, including logos and uniforms; you are able to make choices about the stuff, but everything is pre-set, which puts users in a box. NBA 2K, on the other hand, has an insanely deep relocation process (and even league expansion in 2K17).
A hypoethical 2K Football game would have a creative process for recolating your franchise. It would start off with giving reasons for moving to the league, whether that's exploring a new market, the current city not wanting a stadium, or whatever. It would take a lot of convincing to move the Eagles out of Philadelphia, for example, but you'd have a great chance of moving the Jaguars to London if you wanted to.
If the move is approved by the league owners, you will start by picking a team name and logo, which would be fully customizable through in-game creation or uploading a logo on a website. And don't worry, there will be preset options for less creative folks. Once the team name and logo are made, users will have to design their stadium, uniforms, and more.
The stadium would have customization that allows people to create the next big-time venue. It can be outdoors, in a dome, with a retractable roof, whatever. The details would go from the field surface to the restaurants in the stadium to the color of the seats.
The uniforms–a key thing for many football fans–would have full customization for home and away, plus alternate uniforms, including color rush. If someone wants to move to a colder climate to be the Northern Direwolves and make alternate "King in the North" uniforms or something like that, they would be able to.
FRANCHISE MODE GAMEPLAY
People who have tried playing Madden’s CFM with 15-minute quarters to have their league be as close to real life as possible know that it simply does not work; the total points for every game will probably be in the triple digits. Like NBA 2K, NFL 2K would have a simulation game style. So, a game with two defensive teams might be 6-3, and a game between two high-powered offenses will be in the 30s or 40s rather than the 60s.
There would also be a Simcast Live, like 2K Sports has recently added for NBA 2K. For those who do not know, that allows people to simulate but still be able to watch what’s going on at a fast-pace, and users can jump in at any time. One of the best parts about Simcast Live is that after simulating the whole game, there are still postgame highlights as if you just played the game.
Because the gameplay in general, presentation, players, etc. would be a lot better than Madden’s in general, and NFL 2K football game today would have the greatest Franchise Mode in video game history.
Hopefully you enjoyed Part III. Keep an eye out for Part IV, Career Mode, coming soon on whitewolfsports.com.