If you make a purchase after following a link on our site, we may earn a small commission. Learn more.

Madden NFL 18’s Longshot Story Mode is a Heartfelt and Worthwhile Experience

I know next to nothing about american football. No, that’s a lie; I know absolutely nothing about american football.

Despite that though, I was still quite excited to play Madden NFL ’18. I’ve never played a Madden game before; never even been mildly curious to play it. I don’t like sports. I especially don’t like sports that are essentially foreign to me. At least regular football — sorry, soccer —I’m vaguely familiar with thanks to all the Sunday afternoons as a kid when my dad would have the rumbling of Sky Sports playing away on the TV.

What drew me to Madden NFL ’18 though, was its inclusion of a story mode, Longshot. Longshot is a four to five hour experience that follows Devin Wade, an NFL wannabe who gets signed up to a new reality TV show — the eponymous ‘Longshot’. Longshot largely plays out in cutscenes. It feels rather like a Quantic Dream style story at times; you’ll occasionally have to make a choice or complete a quick time event, but for the majority of the time, you’re sitting back, watching the story unfold.

Warning: there are mild spoilers for Longshot’s story past this point!

It may sound like a strange choice for a high-action sporting title, but Longshot’s pacing is the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the game — and not to mention a very clever way to draw in new players that might not usually be interested in NFL (me!). The story mode isn’t completely new — Fifa ’17 started the trend last year, and going forward it’s something that I hope we see as standard.

Despite knowing nada about the subject matter, I absolutely loved Longshot. It’s a brilliantly put together experience that, despite centring around football, is actually a very touching tale of friendship, growing up, and coming to terms with the past. The story follows Devin, but along for every step of the way is his best friend Colt Cruise. The pair have been best friends since being children, and they both dream of being football stars. It’s not only Devin’s journey, but Colt’s too, and seeing the ups and downs of their relationship play out on screen is incredibly moving.

Longshot opens with a flashback scene of a very young Devin and Colt playing football in the garden with Colt’s dad. Instantly, we know these boys have a close bond. It sets up the scene for steadily revealing a little more about Devin’s past: soon, we learn his dad, who’d raised him by himself, died in an accident. Devin threw away his budding football career as he couldn’t handle the grief. Longshot sees him deal with that part of his past he’s never quite comes to terms with. While we’re not all wannabe football stars, we have all dealt with grief in one way or another, and Longshot’s portrayal of these very real emotions is commendable.

Also commendable is the brilliant friendship between Devin and Colt. It’s not always smooth sailing, but the frequent character building scenes where we see the two sharing in jokes, passing light banter back and forth or even singing along with the car radio are almost perfect. JR Lemon, who plays Devin, and Scott Porter, who plays Colt, do an incredible job of bringing these two men to life. Their characters bounce off each other perfectly, just like any two best friends would. It’s the small touches, unrelated to the overarching story that make all the difference: the pair singing along to Miley Cyrus’ The Climb while driving in the car; the friendly — and adorable — way the pair call each other ‘baby’. It’s rare for characters in a video game to feel so real; it’s even rarer to find that in a sports game, of all things.

Of course, it isn’t all about Devin’s past or his relationship with Colt. There’s a lot of football matters to attend to, too. You’ll have to play a few basic games, learn a few basic rules and come to be familiar with some terminology as Devin is put through his paces as part of the Longshot training. I jumped in without knowing anything, and while it provided a good introduction to the game, my inadequacies certainly shaped Devin’s experience for the worse. Your performance in games of football — along with other choices you make throughout the game — is graded, and your overall performance ultimately affects the outcome of the story… or, at least, it’s meant to. I did pretty terribly throughout when it came to answering questions on NFL trivia and performing in matches, but still, Devin got where he wanted to be in the end.

If you enjoy american football, then you’ll probably get more out of Longshot than someone who doesn’t. But even if you know absolutely nothing about NFL going in, Longshot is so wonderfully crafted that you’ll find yourself becoming more intrigued by the game as you go on. Sure, I played to follow the story of Devin and Colt, who I quickly became attached to, but it’s also made me want to jump in and play some Madden for real. Longshot isn’t perfect, but it feels damn close to any story-driven AAA game — and for a tacked-on story mode, that’s quite a feat.

Similar Posts