Meet the NFL star behind the new Madden 24 gameplay

Meet the NFL star behind the new Madden 24 gameplay
Michael Wicherek Updated on by

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EA Sports has revealed its first trailer ahead of Madden 24, and the game is set to hit new heights this season. A new skeletal system will make the players look, feel, and act more lifelike than ever before, and EA has also recruited a former NFL star to help with its authenticity.

Kenneth Boatright is one of the game designers working on Madden 24. With his NFL experience, Boatright is able to offer a unique insight into the NFL and translate his experiences into the next Madden title.

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Who is Kenneth Boatright?

Kenneth Boatright is a defensive end, and former free safety, who graduated from Southern Illinois. After helping Southern Illinois’ defence rank 10th in the nation in his senior year, Boatright signed for the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2013. 

Boatright was on the roster as the Seahawks became Superbowl XLVIII champions. Following the Superbowl triumph, Boatright signed for the Dallas Cowboys where he would make his one and only NFL appearance and tackle in a 44-17 victory against Washington.

Another injury, this time career-threatening, all but ended Boatright’s NFL career, and he is now working as a game designer on Madden 24. Speaking on Boatright’s influence, fellow game designer Isaac Etheridge said “It’s so important. It made our game look, feel and play more authentic. It really helped our coverage as it allowed our defensive backs to be where they needed to be.”

Defensive titan

Having been a defensive end (DE) in his playing career, it’s no wonder the defensive side of the game has improved substantially this year. 

“Honestly the main areas that I wanted to work with were the defensive line and the trenches in general,” explained Boatright. “We weren’t able to get certain things I wanted to try this year, but blocking, just getting the offensive line to block a little bit better. Just some of the fundamental areas of the game.”

Changes to player awareness through use of threat zones have been made across the board, but it will be particularly noticeable on the line of scrimmage. “We’ve taken the branching technology from our hit everything system and added it to our blockers which will allow for them to branch in and out of double teams quickly, as well as flow from block to block very fluidly. What’s important about this is with the AI changes that we’ve made, elite blockers are going to stick out a lot more and they’re going to dominate even more when you’re going up against smaller defenders.”

Make the play

Defending in Madden is unique in its satisfaction. Intercepting a pass, making a sack, or forcing a fumble provides you with an instant hit of dopamine that other sports don’t provide when out of possession. In Madden 24, the opportunity to make those big plays will be increased, but only if your defence is in the right place.

“One of the feedbacks we got with the skill base pass mechanic, some of the psychic defensive back (DB) activity kind of took away from the pleasure of the mechanic,” Boatright explained. This means that if a defender is not looking at the ball, they will be unaware and therefore unable to perform a defensive action. 

“They won’t be playing swats, they won’t be playing catches, or they will play late swats,” claimed Boatright. However, your defence will still be able to make big plays if they are in the right position to do so. “When they have good opportunities to make plays, we should make those plays right, so this is going to increase the chance for big hits and interceptions,” Boatright confirmed, so there will still be a balance in this area of the Madden 24.

Recover the ball

The live ball scenarios in Madden have often frustrated fans as their players take an age to react to fumbles or loose balls. In Madden 24, players won’t try to get to their feet before attempting to dive on a live ball, and instead will scramble to recover the football.

“The way our DBs behave, the way we interact with certain scenarios like fumbles, is one of the main things that I got to deal with. They’re going to react to the ball a lot quicker if they can see it. Because he can see the ball he’s going to attack it.” This includes awareness to players around the ball too. If a player has space, they will try to scoop the ball and run rather than diving on it.

Onside kicks have also received a revamp in Madden 24, despite being a small nuance in the sport: “The onside kick again is one of those plays that doesn’t account for a lot of plays that go on in the game, but it’s a crucial part of football, it’s in football, we have to make sure that it plays the way it plays in the NFL.”

Block train

The offensive line will also see marked improvements in Madden 24. The same awareness systems will be in place for the offensive line, meaning they will react quicker and more effectively to multiple situations.

“So with the old system, what we asked our blockers to do is update too many times, causing confusion and ultimately leading to them not blocking anybody. What’s important about the extending of the Tackle Everything to blockers is we’re able to branch into the gang tackling system and add to pushing the power forward, which is going to allow for offensive linemen to look like they’re actually committed to showing effort from the start of the play all the way to the end.”

Despite all the work in the trenches, Boatright is most excited about the new running back (RB) AI system. “We’ve re-done the ball carrier AI, we’ve added our frostbite navigation grid, we’ve added the 360-degree cuts to AI running backs as well, which will enhance the pathfinding ability in general. The running-back AI is so crazy and then add that into the rushing attack, man that is going to be a blast.”

Feel the heat

One aspect of the NFL that us mere mortals can only guess at is the feeling on the field on gameday. With the experience of an NFL star, EA has been able to create a more immersive gameday experience.

“We’ve been to over 10 stadiums, trying to get the sounds right in the game. So like I said playing in Seattle, I played in a stadium that was loud. We want our users and our players and our fans to really feel like this is Sunday,” said Boatright.

Whether it is a Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night game, your experience on game day will be as close to the real thing as it has ever been in Madden 24.

Find out more about the Madden 24 gameplay including the new Hit Everything 2.0, tackle types, pass types, and much more. Franchise Mode also has some new additions, while a brand-new way to play is coming to the game with Madden 24 Superstar mode coming soon.