Ask anyone in the gaming community what the best football video game of all-time is, and the answer you would hear the most would still probably be NFL 2K5. For many, this was the peak of football video games. And every game that has followed — for better or worse — has been compared. Truth is, EA and Madden have since monopolized the market. And while All-Pro Football 2K8 was a solid game, without NFL rosters and licensing it just never felt the same.
But now, after almost 15 years since NFL 2K5 released in July 2004, fans are starting to once again get the itch. And with new leagues appearing each and every week, (RIP AAF) the door may finally be open for a Bobby Boucher-like return. So how long before Vince McMahon and his newly relaunched XFL jump off the top rope and make a splash into the football video game industry?
Here is why I think the XFL and 2K are a match made in heaven.
The NFL 2K franchise made its debut on September 9, 1999 on the Sega Dreamcast. And for a couple years, it remained exclusive to Sega’s “next-generation” system. However, in 2001 it made its long-awaited debut on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Then in 2004, ESPN NFL 2K5 released for $19.99 and quickly soared up the sales chart. The game brought several different features and game modes that were new to football games, and it also released a week before Madden, which made it a must-buy for all sports gamers.
NFL 2K5’s gameplay was on an entirely different level. And not only did the players move with more realism and fluidity, it just seemed different than the game Madden had been putting out, which was saying something as the Madden franchise was also near the peak of its powers at this time. Linebackers felt different than defensive backs, and the interaction in the trenches were second to none.
Before each game, Chris Berman would break down the upcoming matchup. He would discuss last week’s wins/losses, recent trends and other useful statistics. It was almost always informative and fresh. In addition to the pregame show, 2K had the greatest halftime show of all time. It was one of the first to implement in-game highlights, which were compiled in an attractive highlight reel. And who can forget about the cutscenes? After an interception, the quarterback could be seen heading to the sidelines as he slammed his helmet down on the bench in disgust. Others would show the QB on the phone with his offensive coordinator discussing what went wrong. These are just a few examples of how advanced 2K5 was at the time.
Lastly, who can forget the first-person camera that allowed users to read a defense like a pro. And yes, more times than not it made you nauseous, but it was one of the better, more unique game modes in anysports game. Franchise mode was well done and the online play left you wanting more. All of this is why NFL 2K5 will forever be the greatest football video game of all-time for many.
It has been almost 20 years since Mr. McMahon had the idea to invest millions of dollars into a start-up football organization. And when it first released in 2000, it immediately became a cult-classic. The over the top rules, creative player names, and a sport that was seemingly revolutionized would seemingly be fail proof, right? Wrong.
The XFL lasted just one season ,and despite being very different than the NFL game, it was still very familiar in both good and bad ways. The ratings were huge at the beginning of the season but quickly died down by the end of the season. However, it did produce Tommy Maddox, the former Steelers quarterback that played in the 90s. Furthermore, it produced one of the most iconic football stars of all-time in He Hate Me. Maddox helped lead Los Angeles to a championship in the league’s inaugural season. But it wasn’t before long that the XFL would fold, forcing McMahon and NBC to lose a lot of money.
Flash forward almost 20 years later…
Now, after two decades, the XFL is preparing to make its triumphant return. And although things didn’t work out the first time, McMahon and his group of investors don’t foresee the same mistakes happening again. Furthermore, they do not expect to suffer the same downfalls as the recently bankrupt AAF. But what will inevitably set the XFL apart from the other professional leagues that have started and failed is the unique rules, broadcast and other intricate details.
In the first and only season, the XFL introduced a plethora of unique rules. Instead of the traditional coin toss, two players would race to a football 20 yards away. This would determine which team gets to choose possession. I think this unique rule could translate well to a video game, and it could best be utilized as a mini-game of its own. There were also no extra point in the XFL’s first installment and there won’t be this go around either. In overtime, teams will have a “shootout” consisting of one-point conversions. This would make things more interesting and help determine the outcome of any game.
You were also forbidden to punt the football out of bounds, which could result in a penalty. Much like the CFL, the XFL allowed one player to move towards the line of scrimmage pre-snap. Although it is unknown whether or not these changes will be implemented in 2020, the XFL has tried several different rules and changes throughout Spring League.
Much like McMahon’s first attempt, the XFL will have TV rights from all major networks. And with a heavy influx of money, the time is better than ever for a new football league to succeed. But aside from the product on the field, and the ability to fill stadiums, the only thing the XFL needs now is a reputable sports video game. And that is where I believe the XFL and 2K two can form an everlasting bond.
In the end, there may never be another 2K football video game. And if that is true, we will forever remember just how iconic NFL 2K5 was. However, the writing is on the wall for a new installment to be released, and Vince McMahon’s newly rejuvenated XFL is the perfect league. Their unique rules, player names and different focus on the sport would be perfect for utilizing 2K’s presentation, style and gameplay.
Today was an endgame-type day for Diamond Dynasty as the 3rd Inning Program and Set 8 packs were released for MLB The Show. Also released was a brand new roster update, sure to stir up the market for baseball fans and Stub investors.
The 3rd Inning Program released today includes three signature series 99-overall Diamond cards that have some serious staying power, as if their overall rating didn’t make that obvious.
First, a switch-hitting second baseman in Signature Series Roberto Alomar. Supreme contact skills, coupled with power ratings exceeding 70 overall from both sides of the plate, Alomar will be an absolute force at second base, a position generally lacking thump. He’ll be a favorite for most upon reaching 300 program stars.
Next, a fire-balling starting pitcher in Justin Verlander in his Signature Series form. Armed with a 98 mph heater and a vicious 80 mph curveball, Verlander will likely remain in rotations for the rest of the year.
Finally, the bag-snaggin’ showboat himself, Rickey Henderson, also in Signature Series form. Henderson, like Alomar, has it all. He’s got all five tools in spades and will surely be a fan favorite. The only thing going against Rickey is the countless options users have in the outfield. Finding a place for Henderson with guys like Ichiro, Mays, Bautista, Lofton, Trout, Gwynn, Snyder, etc., etc., is a bit trickier.
Set 8 Headliners packs were also released today. Included in this set are a 94-overall Rookie Dellin Betances and a 93-overall hardware Ernie Banks — likely another popular choice at a position lacking in top-end super talent.
As far as the roster update goes, I hit on some, and struck out on others in my predictions from Wednesday. Shane Greene went silver, Jon Lester went gold and Michael Brantley also went gold. However, Victor Robles, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Sean Doolittle went untouched.
The real surprise for this week’s roster update was George Springer making a massive jump of three points to an 85-overall diamond. Springer received anywhere from seven to nine points in all contact and power attributes, vaulting him up to his newly minted gem status.
130 players were impacted in the latest roster update. Here’s a look and how some others fared:
Diamond: George Springer (85), Andrelton Simmons (85)
Gold: Michael Brantley (81), Jon Lester (80), Paul DeJong (80)
Silver: Robinson Chirinos (76), Trey Mancini (76), Alex Gordon (75), Tommy Kahnle (75), Yonny Chirinos (75), Shane Greene (75), Pete Alonso (75), Brandon Woodruff (75), Trevor Gott (75)
Gold: Joey Votto (84)
Silver: Wilson Ramos (79), Miguel Cabrera (79), Matt Carpenter (79)
Bronze: Mike Zunino (74), Starlin Castro (74), Carlos Gonzalez (74), Eduardo Nunez (74), Dereck Rodriguez (74), Anthony Swarzak (74), Tyler Skaggs (74), Justin Bour (74), Rougned Odor (73), Jose Peraza (73), Michael Wacha (73), Seunghwan Oh (72)
The DiRT Rally 2.0 Season Two DLC will launch on June 4, 2019. New content, comprising of cars, liveries and environments, will be made available every two weeks with a primary focus on rallycross. Traditional rally fans can also enjoy a new location with the return of the Wales circuit as well as several new cars, including the Porsche 911 SC RS.
New content will be released as per the following schedule:
Week 1: Peugeot 205 T16 Rallycross, Ford RS200 Evolution, Special Livery
Week 3: Latvia RX
Week 5: Porsche 911 SC RS, Lancia 037 Evo 2, Special Livery
Week 7: Wales Rally
Week 9: Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross, MG Metro 6R4 Rallycross, Special Livery
Week 11: Germany RX
Debuted in DiRT 4, Group B rallycross cars are celebrated in Season Two with the inclusion of the Peugeot 205 T16 Rallycross, Ford RS200 Evolution, Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross and the MG Metro 6R4 Rallycross. With improved handling and graphicaloverhaul, the four vehicles will be a welcome addition when they are put through their paces on all rallycross circuits – which include two brand new tracks in Bikernieki, Latvia and Estering, Germany. The new tracks are available weeks three and 11 respectively.
Also included in the DiRT Rally 2.0 Season Two DLC as part of the week five content will be DiRT Rally 2.0 Handling Consultant Ryan Champion’s Porsche 911 SC RS complete with its East African Safari Classic Rally livery. This is in addition to fan favorite location, Wales, which will be available two weeks later.
“Season Two is a perfect blend of new and old and there is something here for everyone,” said Ross Gowing, game director. “Fans will be thrilled at the return of the Group B rallycross cars and we’re excited to give our community two new circuits in Latvia and Germany.
Although our primary focus for Season Two is on rallycross, we haven’t forgotten our rally purists, and we know from fan feedback how much they love taking on the tough Welsh terrain and what better way to do it than in Ryan Champion’s Porsche 911 SC RS.”
Players who bought the Deluxe Edition will receive all content as part of their Season Pass. Similar to Season One, players who own the Day One or Standard Edition will have the opportunity to purchase each season and piece of content separately on their digital store of choice.
MLB free agents, the guys who were left out in the cold during the offseason, or the guys who were cut midseason. Sometimes these players are just too expensive to be added to the ball club, or sometimes you can find what you’re looking for within your farm teams. However, when it comes to free agents, value is the keyword, and you should ask yourself, is the value of the free agent comparable to his price tag? This is only one of the several questions you may be asking when you take a dive into the free agency pool. Therefore, I have picked five free agents I believe can be an asset to your team during the season. Some of these players are everyday players while others may be used for situational aspects. Let’s take a look at my top five free agents in the game by value.
Matt Kemp – 78
Hot off the press, Matt Kemp is now an available free agent in the game. Depending on what mode you’re playing in the game and when you can pick him up, Matt Kemp does offer value to many teams. Kemp is a pull hitter who has great contact attributes against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers. On the fielding side of things, Kemp does lack high ratings so you have to look at his value in terms of what he can bring at the plate. I consider Matt Kemp to be of significant value in the American League. You have the ability to play him in the DH role for the rest of the season and utilize him in the field as needed.
Craig Kimbrel – 85
Interestingly enough, Craig Kimbrel was not picked up during the offseason despite racking up 42 saves during the 2018 season. This tells me that a lot of teams believe that the value of Craig Kimbrel is not worth the contract he is asking for. If you’re looking to add a setup man or closer to your team, then Kimbrel would be a great option. If you take a look at his player ratings, you will be adding a pitcher with high velocity. He also has a break rating of 99, which means he will use some nasty stuff to get batters out, and he is rated at 99 in both H/9 and K/9. This means he has the ability to close the door in tight ball games the majority of the time. If you can roster him and take on his salary, I think Kimbrel would be a great pick up in the second half of the season and into the playoffs.
Dallas Keuchel – 82
Keuchel is another player who is available on the free agency market. When it comes to Dallas Keuchel, he is the type of pitcher who has veteran attributes. Dallas has lost some speed and break on his pitches but still has legitimate ratings to be an effective pitcher for your rotation. He’s also left handed, so you can utilize him for some of the challenging lefty versus lefty matches you might face with batters like Cody Bellinger or Anthony Rizzo. At this point in Keuchel’s career, he provides value should you lose a starting pitcher due to injury during the season. You most likely will have trouble finding a starter in your farm system who has the ability to work through a game like that of Dallas Keuchel.
Brandon Phillips – 73
You may not have considered him at first glance when looking among the available players in the free agent pool, but Brandon Phillips has great potential when considering him as a roster addition. You can utilize Phillips in a variety of roles. He is a guy you can position at the second spot in the order or at the end. He possesses good contact ratings in the mid and upper 70s, which are better than average for most free agents. The fact that he is a second baseman doesn’t require his arm strength to be higher than average either. The two attributes I believe give him the most value are his vision at 89, and his contact against lefties and righties. This means if you don’t have room for him in your starting lineup, you can at least utilize him in situations off the bench to knock in runners in scoring position or fill every other day needs without a huge drop off in talent.
Randall Delgado -77
Delgado is a viable free agent reliever. What I like about Delgado’s value as a free agent are the pitches in his arsenal. He has a fastball in the low 90s, and also a good slider and sinker. However, the sinker is where the value shines in my eyes. Delgado is a pitcher you can pick up if you lack groundball pitchers in your bullpen, so he can be used as a matchup guy to bring in when you are backed against the wall with runners on base. The best part about it is he has a manageable salary to go along with it. Keep your eye on Randall Delgado as your progress through your season. You may find more value in him than you think when you analyze your bullpen.
Free Agent Wrap-Up
There are numerous free agents you can evaluate to determine their value. I feel these five are rated high enough where you can utilize them during your season. However, with most free agents it will be hard to find an all-around player. You most likely will be considering their asking price and then utilizing them for a specific skill set. Look at your lineup and discover if you need a batter who can hit from both sides of the plate, or has great power. Even a free agent like Evan Gattis could be picked up simply for his power against righties. The moral of this story is to determine value based on how long this free agent can be useful for your organization.
Although EA has not made any seismic changes to Madden Ultimate Team in years, it has since refined and tweaked some things over the last several years that get fans excited. And in doing so, it has made MUT one of the most desired game modes for fans of the Madden franchise.
And with this year’s installment, again comes slight refinements that are sure to make the game mode that much more exciting. Here is everything we learned about Madden Ultimate Team from yesterday’s Madden 20 update.
The first new feature introduced was “missions” that appear to give users a more direct path to the cards and items that matter most to your MUT team. This will come in handy for new users, as well as pre-existing players of the mode. In fact, at times, it can be extremely frustrating to have your eye on a specific card or item, with no real direction on where to go next. This will all change in Madden 20.
It will also show users the path in which they must take to earn said reward. For instance, if you need to acquire a specific amount of trophies using a variety of different game modes, it will link you to each mode with your objective. Again, this is all to help streamline the experience for the user and make it easy to find exactly what it is you’re looking for.
Ultimate Challenges And Rewards
Gone in this year’s installment are “solo” missions and now they are referred to as Ultimate Challenges. These are challenges that appear to be more “star based” than before. Before you attempt to do each mission, you will choose between one, two or three stars. The higher the star, the more difficult the game mode. These challenges will be repeatable, which will allow users to acquire each difficulty level’s reward.
For each star you obtain, they will then be used to purchase “milestones” items. The more stars you accumulate, the better rewards you receive. There are also “bonus” stars that can be acquired. This means a total of five stars can be earned, but in doing so you will need to complete each challenge on the highest difficulty.
This gives users the ability to earn more variety of rewards in multiple different ways. This seems like a healthy alternative to solo missions, and something all fans should be intrigued by.
Superstar Abilities, Player Archetypes, And Faster loading
One thing that users will definitely notice is the ability to go from one mission to the next without ever having to see the main menu again. In the past, after defeating a mission, you would be sent back to the MUT menu and have to go from there. Now, after completing a mission, users will be prompted to start the next mission. They will also be allowed to choose the difficulty and star rating. This will speed up each user’s experience, and hopefully help in building your Ultimate Team in a speedier fashion.
We all know that EA has added superstar abilities to this year’s game, and those will translate to MUT. Some superstar abilities will make the transition from ’19 into ’20. But for the most part, these abilities will be re-imagined. And players will play as close to their real counterparts as possible.
Last, and obviously not least, is the introduction to player archetypes in Ultimate Team this year. These will again be player specific. However, a quarterback like Philip Rivers, who isn’t the fastest or most elusive QB, will not have the “escapability” trait. Running backs may be better at running outside than others, and quarterbacks who can throw more accurately on the run will have those abilities. It’s just another step in making EA as true to the NFL as possible.
Lastly, EA plans to implement even more in the “house rules” feature that first appeared in Madden 19. This is something we will have to monitor as we get closer to the game’s release.
In the end, Madden 20 has the potential to be the best representation of the sport to date. But that will ultimately come down to how the game plays, and most importantly, how the users respond to the changes. Regardless, Madden Ultimate Team should once again be EA’s bread and butter, and it will surely be a hit among the competitive gaming community.
Bigben and Kylotonn invited the best WRC eSports players to play an alpha version of WRC 8. They were able to get a feel for the new physics, graphics, weather, level design, and game modes. Two days of work went into perfecting the physics expected by the community, and supplemented the feedback already collected from professional drivers.
Not surprisingly, their first impressions are really good. Check out the trailer and screenshots below.
WRC 8 | Community Day - eSports WRC Drivers Interview - YouTube
Backed by the official 2019 license of the FIA World Rally Championship and its eSports experience, the WRC series is back with a resolutely simulation-centered gameplay, a dynamic weather system, and an entirely redesigned Career mode. WRC 8 also offers more content than ever, with 102 special stages spread across the championship’s 14 countries, and a selection of historic cars that left their mark in WRC history.
WRC 8 will be available September 2019 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Baseball might be the most stat-heavy sport in the world these days, and where there are stats, there are milestones. This week, OOTP Developments’ Perfect Team Community Manager Kris Jardine took the wrapping off OOTP 20’s first-ever batch of Player of the Month cards — 3 from the NL and 3 from the AL — and showcased a Peak CC Sabathia in honor of him becoming just the 17th player to ever rack up 3,000 strikeouts.
The OOTP Now Podcast: Checking out the OOTP 20 Roadmap
Wondering what’s in store for OOTP 20 this year? The latest episode of the OOTP Now podcast featured host Rich Grisham spending some time with OOTP creator and lead designer Markus Heinsohn, who talked about his plans for the game for the rest of 2019. There are some exciting new features in store, as usual.
And on the hockey front, Franchise Hockey Manager producer Jeff Riddolls joined Rich to talk about the NHL playoffs and dish some behind-the-scenes info about the weekly FHM streams on Twitch.
What all-time baseball milestone is your favorite? We hope you can score a great Perfect Team card associated with it the next time you rip a few packs. Have fun!