After releasing the initial Run Free info to mixed reactions and then missing the deadline for info Connected Franchise, EA Sports is trying to right the ship today by giving a closer look at what’s happening on the defensive side of the ball in the second Madden 25 Playbook. The Infinity Engine was the main feature last year, but this year the introduction of Force Impact and a year of additional tuning is bringing the power of Infinity to the Hit Stick. This allows for the biggest, most impressive hits yet.
To take things up a notch, if you manage to pop a ball carrier with the Hit Stick while he’s performing one of the special precision modifier moves, the chances of causing a fumble increase. So if you’re up against an opponent who loves flashy moves, line him up with the Hit Stick and see if he doesn’t get a bit more conservative. This concept carries over into the passing game as well, as cornerbacks and safeties who trigger the Hit Stick as a receiver makes a catch have a higher chance of jarring the ball loose. These both make logical sense and should have been in place long ago.
Then there is a little something called, Heat Seeker Tackling. Heat-seeker is enabled anytime you hold down the Hit Stick, defensive assist or wrap tackle buttons, and essentially guides your defender on the proper angle to intercept the ball carrier and bring him down. Heat-seeker tackles can also act as a counter to precision modifier moves when employed by defenders with high agility or awareness ratings. The ultimate goal of heat-seeker is to provide assistance without taking control away from the user, as well as eliminating small errors like oversteers. Also, there’s a bit of risk/reward with heat-seeker, as defenders with lower awareness or agility ratings are more susceptible to a fake-out by the ball carrier. Players will have to find the balance between going for the big hit or using heat-seeker for a helping hand. For purist like me, heat-seeker tackling can be turned off entirely for both online and offline games.
Another new defensive concept is the defensive recovery mechanic. Often times in the NFL you’ll see a player overrun a play or miss a tackle, but immediately take steps to get back in the action. In Madden NFL 25, defenders can make the same hard cuts as ball carriers to quickly change direction and renew their pursuit. Speedy defensive ends and other high-agility defenders are even more valuable, as they can recover on plays and chase down runners on the backside. Defenders can also utilize the acceleration burst to close the gap on ball carriers and make a play before the runner gets into space.
There are times when you just can’t get in position to either deliver the big hit or wrap up the ball carrier, and those are the moments when a dive tackle can be the difference between a short gain and a touchdown. Dive tackles have been tuned in Madden NFL 25 to utilize more momentum so that defenders have a better chance of catching runners from behind and tripping them up. Also, new lunge tackles let defenders dive past the lead blockers to take out the legs of the ball carrier. This is something that I hope has been implemented well, diving in Madden has never really worked the way it should, either you came up too flat or you went flying like superman.
Finally, there a few under-the-hood improvements that affect a defender’s reactions in various situations. For instance, defensive awareness plays a big role this year, as defenders with a higher awareness rating are less likely to bite on fake-outs. So when a ball carrier attempts a juke on a high-awareness defender, that player is likely to make an appropriate reaction and still make the tackle. Another example is retuned pursuit angles, where defenders take smarter routes to the ball in order to track down ball carriers and make plays. In addition, defenders will now “break down” and prepare for a tackle as they get close to the ball carrier. This controls their momentum and puts them into the best position to make a play.
As a defensive player all this sounds good but I’ve got to see it in action before I’m willing to give it a thumbs up. For far too long, defensive players have had to work much harder than offensive players and I keep hoping that the next game will bring some of that balance back. Could this be the year? Too early to tell but now that you’ve read all about the new defensive mechanics, watch them in action in this newly released video.