Madden 24 Gameplay Changes & Full Details: Foundational Football, FieldSENSE, Sapien Tech, More

EA released a Madden NFL 24 deep dive which details the all-new gameplay features including Foundational Football enhancements, FieldSENSE improvements, and realistic SAPIEN Technology. Read on for the full Gridiron Notes write-up!

Madden 24 Gameplay Full Details

Hey Madden fans!

Welcome back to Gridiron Notes! Today, developers from our gameplay team are diving into all of the new features we have coming to our Core Gameplay system for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®5, and PC, including key updates to FieldSENSE™ , our brand new SAPIEN Technology, and Foundational Football in Madden NFL 24!

Note: FieldSENSE™ Gameplay System, SAPIEN Technology, and other associated gameplay features discussed below are not available in Xbox One and PlayStation®4 versions.


Last season, the response from players to the added control that FieldSENSE™  delivered in gameplay was extremely positive. Our team continues to focus on our core player in Madden NFL 24 especially in three key areas:

  • Enhanced Realism with the next evolution of FieldSENSE™ .
  • Smarter AI with dozens of improvements to Foundational Football especially in opposing QB’s, Run Blocking and Pass Coverage.
  • Deeper Immersion through the introduction of new SAPIEN Technology and upgrades to Gameday Emotion.

Hit Everything 2.0

  • Catch Tackles:
    • Expanding on our mid-air catch tackle system from Madden NFL 23 – We can now branch to swats, catch tackles, and hit sticks in all contested catch situations, not just jumping catches.
    • Players now have more control to defend curls routes, slants, and streaks with a variety of realistic outcomes. We included new animations to compliment and make interactions between receivers and defenders look and feel more authentic.
  • Tackling control and variety:
    • You’ll feel more control with greater differentiation of tackle types based on defender size and strength matchup against the ball carrier. The New Defender Advantage formula chooses tackles more dynamically based on the players’ ratings, size, speed, and momentum. Which results in the following:
      • Removal of the concept of ‘Conservative Tackle’ A (On Xbox)/X (On Playstation) is now Wrap tackle and the outcomes are based on our Tackle Advantage Algorithm.
      • Smaller defenders will now take out the legs of bigger ball carriers.
      • Big Man Wrap tackles that wrap and drive the ball carrier back.
        • Ex: Think of Vita Vea grabbing a running back trying to run up the middle.
      • All new scoop tackles are high-impact form tackles that pick the ball carrier off the ground.
      • We added and adjusted 1700+ tackle animations to hit everything!
  • Blocking:

Dev Note: Run Blocking got a significant upgrade because of both FieldSENSE and Foundational Football upgrades in Madden NFL 24. The run game is more physical due to Hit Everything 2.0! Keep reading below to learn how we made foundational football upgrades to make our blockers even more intelligent and devastating in the run game. 

  • We have implemented the Hit Everything technology into blocking, enabling a new level of versatility for blockers. With the ability to chip block, enter and exit double teams on the fly, blockers can seamlessly navigate through defenders and blocking interactions, preventing blockers from getting stuck on ongoing interactions or having to re-target away from their intended targets when colliding with an adjacent defender.
    • We’ve also extended the stand-up tackles system from Madden NFL 23 to the offense which now unlocks blockers’ ability to join in on a gang tackle and push the pile forward. This happens contextually by AI-controlled blockers when in the proper position to push the ball carrier forward relative to the position of the pile up

Skill Based Passing 2.0

  • Upgraded Passing System:
    • Madden NFL 24 introduces an upgrade to our passing system. New Jump and Dive passes for players like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen to improvise when they need to get a clear passing lane.
    • We added more no-look pass animations. On top of that, we’ve improved our pass animation system for better visuals and targeting. We’ve also done more work with our pass accuracy percentages to reflect real NFL accuracy rates.
    • We’ve modified the placement of slightly inaccurate passes so they aren’t so far out of range and have a chance to be catchable with dives or tough catches.

Dev Tip: While rare, the dive pass can lead to exciting moments for top tier stars like Patrick Mahomes. 

Players can attempt a dive pass when rolling out to the sideline and throwing short passes with a defender closely trailing (we made this update based on Beta Feedback). Our team is able to tweak and tailor these throws to ensure they only happen in proper situations. Jump passes happen when standing in the pocket and throwing short with a defender in front of you.

  • Catching Improvements:
    • Madden NFL 24 introduces a revamped catching system with hundreds of new animations designed to significantly reduce the frequency of missed catches and improve on areas like maintaining speed and momentum when catching the ball.
    • This year, players will be able to hit a receiver in stride and maintain speed; more easily catch and get open across the middle; get the appropriate catch on a curl; or check down to a running back in the flats to get upfield faster.
    • Dive catches are back in full force so you can see players lay out for the ball when they can’t otherwise make the catch. Dev Tip: The best way to see dive catches in action is with Free Form passing and leading the receiver to the border or just outside of the ellipse.

Dev Tip: The best way to see dive catches in action is with Free Form passing and leading the receiver to the border or just outside of the ellipse.

SAPIEN Technology

Heading into Madden NFL 24, our team implemented our SAPIEN skeleton to make sure that the movement of our players on the field look and feel as real as possible.

To achieve a new level of animation fidelity and smooth movement,  we knew that our performance skeleton needed to be updated. So, we built a brand new skeleton from the ground up, delivering authenticity and ensuring our animations are true to life.

The SAPIEN skeleton ensures all the player models and NFL athlete data now performs fluidly once mapped. This scan data served as the basis for our unique in-game character models. In Madden NFL 24, we applied this scan data to the SAPIEN Skeleton, and the results were fantastic! Not only do all our new animations look great, but thousands of old animations were instantly upgraded.

The result is that animations became more fluid for our players, especially in the run game. Visually, the characters’ bodies look much more realistic, especially in motion. Keep your eye on ankle and wrist joints which are especially improved.

Across our multiple body types, you can really notice these improvements. Our “heavy” type players like Trent Williams or Leonard Williams look incredible with their unique combination of size and athleticism.

It’s Official

Plus, there is another great thing about the SAPIEN skeleton! It is not just limited to NFL athletes, we optimized it to work for non-players like coaches, fans and even female characters.

This allowed us to respond to fan feedback and bring back the officiating crew to the on field experience in Madden NFL 24. Our crew consists of seven officials, both male and female, and they all perform using the same SAPIEN Skeleton.

We’re excited to hear your feedback during the Madden NFL 24 closed beta, especially around the smooth feel that our SAPIEN skeleton delivers.

Foundational Football

  • Blocking:
    • The new AI system is built on counting defenders in the box and then matching up with each available blocker based on the blocking scheme, which means the most dangerous defenders to the desired point of attack will be accounted for before players further away, making it more difficult to manipulate blocking behavior and exploit defensive set ups.
    • We overhauled open field blocking by asking blockers in the open field to do LESS. This new AI system filters targets to give open field blockers less players to account for, and ultimately has them commit to a single target sooner in the play and stay focused on making their block. This allows you as the ball carrier to confidently anticipate where they are going and make decisions without any unwelcome surprises.
    • Elite blockers will stand out more – highly rated blockers will be much more likely to throw dominating blocks when matched up with smaller defenders. Dev Tip: Be cautious using sub defense formations with more DB’s on the field to stop the run with these elite blockers in action.

Dev Tip: Be cautious using sub defense formations with more DB’s on the field to stop the run with these elite blockers in action.

  • Defensive Back AI and coverage:
    • Madden NFL 24 makes some big strides in pass coverage. We’ve added new DB movement types called read steps. These are slower backpedals that allow them to evaluate the routes and attack the short pass game, while also looking more authentic and athletic in their movement. Slants and short crossers have a higher chance of breakups or interceptions.
    • We’ve added crossover movement that allows the DB’s to move at high speeds and still see the ball to make a play on it, users also have the ability to control whether they strafe, crossover or sprint.
    • Based on player feedback, our team worked to eliminate cases where “psychic” DB’s would sometimes break on balls they couldn’t see. Now, defenders need to see the ball to break on it. This was common in man coverage and has been re-done to be more realistic. We call this “see ball, play ball” on the dev team.
    • Last, we have tuned zone defender break times so that defenders can shut down passes made into their zone by intercepting, swatting with more contextually appropriate animations, or be in position to land a big catch tackle to knock the ball out.

Dev Tip: Strafe is LT/L2. Crossover is LT/L2+RT/R2. Sprint is RT/R2.

  • Defensive AI Read and React:
    • Our run defense AI will now have the ability to read repeated plays ran by the offense and react in a more realistic manner.  Defenses will start to key in on repetitive offensive run plays. If a team is running the same play out of the same formation, that is a tell to the defense. Once the defense keys in on this, defenders will play their run-fit and start hitting their gap as soon as the ball is snapped. This will not apply on a play-action run.
    • How quickly defenders begin to adjust will be dictated by the skill level the user is playing on. On Rookie difficulty, it may take the defense more time to catch on and predict what play is coming compared to our All-Madden difficulty where the defense may only need 1 play before they make effective adjustments.
    • Your players and ratings are still a huge factor here. An example of this would be that a Defensive Lineman with lower blockshed and strength ratings will still be to be outmatched by an Offensive Lineman with higher blocking ratings, resulting in still having a better chance at protecting the ball carrier in the run game.
    • The difference here is that the defense will not make the same mistakes as the offense runs what they have seen consistently. All of this will result with a more authentic experience as the defense responds just like how their real life counterparts would.
  • Quarterback AI
    • Al Quarterback logic has been completely overhauled to make the opposing QB’s play like their real-life counterparts as well as making it a real challenge to compete against.
    • All Quarterbacks now use Skill Based Passing, but the new Decision Making Trait realistically determines how each QB leverages it
    • Historically, QB’s only had 3 pass lead points to choose from. Now, there are 12 possible points a QB will evaluate to make the big play..
      • EX: Lead a seam vertical inside against Cover 3 Drop
      • EX: Lead an outside streak up the sideline between the flat and safety against Cover 2
      • Conservative Trait:  Will throw to partially covered receivers if it’s a Star Wide Receiver, they’re down multiple possessions or a receiver who isn’t far downfield. They may also throw short of the sticks or check down in 3rd and long situations.
        • Example: Kirk Cousins
      • Ideal trait: This archetype knows exactly when to try and fit a tight window. Tailored logic for if the WR is in the end zone, they’re backed up on their own side of the field, or they are up multiple possessions.
        • Example: Patrick Mahomes
      • Aggressive Trait: These gunslingers are going to push the ball in ways that haven’t been seen before. Just like real life, this also means they might try to force a pass that they shouldn’t.
        • Example: Josh Allen
    • Plus, all QB’s now use the new pathfinding technology covered in the Ball Carrier AI section below for evading pressure and in the open field. This means mobile QB’s like Justin Fields are more true to life than ever before.
      • Adaptive AI Additions: ‘Alert’ Logic. This is a new concept where if the CPU has a run play called, but the defense has the box loaded, the AI might audible to a Pass in appropriate game scenarios. They may also change to a pass play against a Weak Box.
        • For players who like to repeatedly call the same play type, you’ll see the AI audible against Zone, or Hot Route vs. Man Coverage.
          • Odds are driven by Awareness rating, Game Difficulty, and Quarter Length.
      • Quick Game Overhaul – New logic for QB’s to speed up their progressions, and low throw if it’s a tight window on plays such as Quick Slants, or RPO.
      • Back Shoulder Throws – When a Shot Play or Goalline fade is dialed up, QB’s will be using a new throw location to get the ball to their playmakers
  • Fumble Recoveries and Onside Kicks
    • Fumble recoveries have been improved with hundreds of new fumble recovery animations, more realistic reaction times based and the addition of City VS Country fumble AI.
    • City fumbles are crowded piles-ups where people will dive on the ball to gain possession vs country fumbles are where players can look to scoop and score. Players can also recover the ball from the ground, so you’ll now see cases where players can dive and miss or get tackled and then get that ball from the ground.
    • Country fumbles are fumbles that have a live ball in an unpopulated area so that the recovering player can scoop it up and run with it.
    • We’ve also improved our tip ball physics and reaction times.
    • We’ve also added new special team formations and overhauled onside kicks to get more realistic ball physics and recoveries.
  • Ball Carrier AI
    • We have implemented Frostbite Navigation Grid capabilities for better assessment of the playing field and threats, resulting in more appropriate Ball Carrier movement through the chaos of the play and a better ability to run to green grass, make smart cutbacks at the line of scrimmage and avoid the sideline.
    • Logical improvements to decision-making when special moves are appropriate for the specific ball carrier, making AI ball carriers play to their strengths more effectively.
    • To top off the AI ball carrier improvements, they can now take advantage of the 360° Cuts feature to methodically plant a foot and hit the run gap.
  • Playbooks
    • For Madden NFL 24, we’ve added 70+ new offensive formations that contain 500+ new plays across all 32 NFL teams playbooks to bring more variety and identity. You’ll find formations and plays that are not only authentic to each NFL team’s offensive scheme, but also a unique component to every NFL team’s offensive playbook specifically tailored to take advantage of all the gameplay improvements we have shared today.
  • Post-Play Emotion
    • NFL players are coming to life between the whistles in Madden NFL 24. By overhauling our post-play engine and adding thousands of new animations, you’ll notice every player on the field reacting to the play in a true-to-life manner. Did your cornerback give up a crucial catch on 4th down? Expect to see the opposing receiver let you know he got that first down, while your cornerback shows frustration and disbelief during the post-play. Whether they’re tossing the ball back to the referee after a short gain, talking some trash to their opponent on the way back to the huddle, or teammates organically joining in on the touchdown celebration, you’ll feel the energy and emotion in every moment.

Thank you for checking out our Gameplay Deep Dive Gridiron Notes. Our team will continue to respond to player feedback during the season and we are thrilled to showcase all of these new features when Madden NFL 24 launches on August 18th! We will be back soon with more Gridiron Notes about your favorite modes and ways to play.