College Football 25 Preview – A passion project for the entire team!

Imagine, it’s the year 2013, you place the NCAA 14 disk into your Xbox 360/Playstation 3. You hear the iconic, “EA SPORTS, it’s in the game.” Then, boom, the glory and majesty of the theme with marching bands and all the school colors cycling. How many of us knew at that time, that would be the last game in that series for a long, long time? Fear not, fellow college football (CFB) fans, our time has come. The Dynasty is in sight, our Road to Glory begins soon…

Our friends at EA were nice enough to invite me to their College Football 25 (CFB25) preview event this past week in Orlando. During this event, I heard from the development team, EA leadership, special guests, and I got my hands on the game for a chance to play some games on my own and against some of the others there. Let’s get into it, let’s see what College Football 25 has to offer so far!

Let me start by saying this is one of the most upfront passionate teams I’ve met so far. With a mixture of backgrounds including NBA2k, NCAA, Golf, Madden, and more; this team is well-rounded and has plenty of experience with sports games and with CFB specifically. They were very quick to tell us some of the key game modes will be returning; Dynasty Mode and Road to Glory. Both will be returning with a glorious redesign paying some homage to the older games, while making sure this is a brand new game with brand new ways to play. Their goal is “to bring gameday Saturday to your living room.”

One of the biggest things I was excited to hear about was the announcement of Chris Fowler making his CFB video game debut in CFB 25 joining Kirk Herbstreit in the booth. Along that team, you’ll also have the choice to hear the second team in the game, Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack. You will be able to switch between whichever announcing team you want. So, if you want Chris and Kirk to talk about your MTSU vs WKU rivalry game, you can do that. The biggest thing for me is that it’ll keep things fresh longer. For those of us who play Dynasty modes for long periods of time, you start to hear the same things over and over, so the team adding not just one but two teams of announcers will be a lot of fun.

Speaking of, we had a chance to have a group interview with Chris Fowler you can see a portion of here.

Group Interview - Chris Fowler (CFB broadcaster) about his work on College Football 25! #CFB25

Jumping into the meat and potatoes of CFB25, Dynasty Mode returns with a vengeance. I played a LOT of Dynasty Mode during NCAA14 trying to create storylines of an Offensive Coordinator (OC) trying to rise in the ranks starting at a smaller school with the goal of making it to one of the largest schools in CFB. The team is well aware of the many ways people play Dynasty Mode because almost all of them played it in the NCAA era, and some of the staff actually worked on the revamped version that kept the dreams alive for a while. Their goal is to give you as much or as little control as you want.

You can play up to 30 seasons with one coach online or offline. You will be immersed in CFB with control of everything from your schedule, the transfer portal, the conference realignments, redshirt, skill trees, and more.

I want to focus really quickly on the skill trees as they’ve done away with the individual skill trees for OC and Defensive Coordinator (DC), instead making everything into one skill tree per coach. Meaning, if your coach is all about motivation and recruiting, you will be able to level up your OC/DC to either make what you do even more effective or you can have them focus on something you’re not as good at to fill in gaps. This will make it interesting to see where people gravitate towards. It also makes losing coordinators to the coaching carousel even more dynamic.

You’ll have access to play as Head Coach, OC, and DC with three archetypes (motivator, recruiter, and tactician), with 11 skill trees to upgrade. There are 134 custom playbooks with the ability to save custom audibles. With so many playbooks and so many audibles you can call, you have many ways to play.

Recruiting and team management has had a major change because the game has changed drastically in the past 10 years. Dynasty will have 4,000 prospects per recruitment board and expanded pipeline choices including areas like South Florida and Metro Atlanta. Dealbreakers are also back, making it sometimes impossible for a school to recruit a player due to a lack of academics, training facilities, etc. A new Wear and Tear system has also been included with charts that will show you specifically where and how hurt some of the players get during the game and season.

Now for the elephant in the room. The new rules for CFB are ever changing when it comes to who can pay who, what schools can do, and more. If you haven’t been following all of that, there are plenty of articles out there covering it. But, in the game itself, the development team has tried their best to create a mode that will work regardless of the changes this year while being flexible enough that they’ll make changes as information becomes available in the next versions of the game.

This means that, for instance, you won’t be able to edit players who are actual player in real life. So, if you have Travis Hunter on your team, you can’t boost his stats to all 99 just for fun. This has more to do with the legal side of things as you WILL be able to edit some information for players created by the CPU in the recruitment process (but we’ll have more information on that as we get closer to the release). From what I could tell, this was a, “we really don’t have a choice here” situation and less a, “we didn’t want to do this.” Therefore, I think understanding the reason WHY they made the choice they did is very important in this instance.

Speaking of Travis Hunter, we had a special guest visit us during the event. Travis was a lot of fun to hear from as a player who remembers playing NCAA as a kid and is now the cover athlete. It was really great seeing him having so much fun and playing as his own avatar in the game. You can hear from him during a group interview we did here.

Group Interview - Travis Hunter (CB and WR at Colorado) about the cover of College Football 25!

Moving to the next big game mode, Road to Glory. Road to Glory makes a triumphant return and it is going to be exciting. Their goal with this mode this year was “fast to fun.” They anticipate an average run to be around 10-20 hours of gameplay with a lot of replayability thrown in there. You’ll be able to pick from the same group of positions as in Madden Superstar (more on that later) including QB, HB, WR, MLB, and CB. The team at CFB worked with many different people including an offensive coordinator in the CFB league on creating a great simulation of time management for a college player. I didn’t realize how jam packed a student athlete’s schedule really is, and it’ll be on display during Road to Glory.

You’ll begin by choosing what type of player you want to be. Elite, Blue Chip, Contributor, and Underdog. Each one will give you specific statistical changes, but also expectations will change and field time will change. Throughout your journey, you’ll have scenarios pop up including position battles, weekly time management, and each of your main stat areas will go up or down depending on those choices. Your main stats as a student athlete will be academics, leadership, health, training, and brand.

Do you want to be the guy on campus everyone knows and likes? Making every deal you can to maximize your potential earnings and social media? Focus on the brand! However, if you focus only on brand and not anything on academics, OH NO, you got an F on your exam and you’re now on academic probation… Guess you’ll then need to use some of your points to get to tutoring. But man, that tutoring and brand stuff really takes a toll on your training and health, can you play even if you do make it back on the field? And who knows! Maybe you decide that school isn’t for you, don’t worry, every year you can use the transfer portal just like the new CFB rules allow.

The main goal of Road to Glory is to make your choices and each decision you make will have their pros and cons. If the mode works the way we saw during the presentation, you’ll be able to make countless versions of a specific position and have completely different stories for each. Again, EA Orlando is giving you as many choices on how to play as possible.

Now, to answer your question, which I know you have, you WILL be able to move your Road to Glory player to Madden NFL 25 Superstar. You will NOT be able to move any Dynasty Mode draft classes to Madden NFL 25 Franchise Mode. Again, this is due to the rules and regulations of student athletes. For now, I’m just glad I’ll be able to continue a player’s journey from college to the pros.

The final thing I’ll say about the game modes is they’ve worked extremely hard to design a system for the brand new 12 team playoff format. What that means is that we the gamers will be getting to try out the new 12 team playoff format in CFB25 before it even happens in real life. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of story lines and drama comes from this when it arrives on campus.

Their goal with CFB25 is to, once again, bring gameday Saturday to your living room. And boy… this game looks good. They have so much detail on everything in this game, from the face molds, to the stadiums themselves, and the fight songs to keep you wanting to score just to hear Rocky Top… I mean, your fight song, over and over.

They have over 16,000 different head models in this game with 240 individual head shapes. They used what they call, Generic+ to get as accurate as you can without full head scanning. This means your favorite players will look as good as they can without a full scanning like some of the players in Madden with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. I’ve seen some of the scans and they look breathtaking considering everything mentioned above. I also appreciated the attention to beard details. There have always been a lack of GREAT beards in American Football simulations and now we’re getting some GREAT looking beards.

Stadiums look breathtaking. Some of the stadiums had full laser scanning, while some schools sent in thousands of pictures to help showcase the stadium in all aspects. The sounds and sights are so real that if you’ve been to that school, you’ll be seeing some of the most iconic things about the stadium, but also some of the surrounding areas. I was able to play as the school I attended and actually saw the theatre building and music building in the background as well as the parking lot areas and the basketball stadium. They worked hard to make sure everything is as accurate as possible because in their words, “someone is a fan of any given team” and they want to make sure your experience is just as good as someone who’s a fan of a larger school.

With uniforms, they have multiple uniforms for each team. I tried Middle Tennessee State and University of Tennessee during my gameplay sessions and were able to play as some of my favorite uniform combinations (although I hope they add the Smoky Grey for Tennessee in the future). These look AMAZING and accurate down to the paint splatter effect on some of the teams we got to see up close – like Oregon.

Speaking of your favorite school, they have a tradition database they work from that includes where the bands stand, where the cheerleaders go and move to, where are the pyrotechnics, fireworks, cameras. We also found out that the motion capture team makes props for everything. Each item is to scale. For instance, the bowl game trophies you’ll see at the end of the season are replicated size-wise during motion capture to make it look authentic. They used replicas to make sure the weight and height are the same as each trophy. The level of detail even goes down to the type of grass on the field and the shadows from the lights in the stands.

Alongside all of that is music performed by Drum Corps International to provide the musical landscape of your favorite teams. I’ll be honest, hearing Rocky Top playing full blast in my earphones after a touchdown did bring a tear to my eye in excitement. It sounds so wonderful hearing the crowd cheering and the music playing while the players celebrate.

Included in the presentation was a short section letting us know there will be an Online Head to Head mode and a College Ultimate Team game mode. These are still being worked on, but it looks like the competitive scene will be a focus for CFB25 and will take after Madden head to head and Madden Ultimate Team in format.

If the nostalgia didn’t already sell you on College Football 25, the level of detail of the stadiums and the game modes should reel you in this year. While we didn’t get to play Dynasty Mode or Road to Glory during the play test, everything I saw during the presentation looked in-depth and exciting. This might be the MOST anticipated sports release in gaming in a long time, and so far, it’s living up to the hype. We can’t wait to get our hands on the full release.

Adam is a musician and gamer who loves his partner in crime, Regan, and their two pets Rey and Finn. Adam is a fan of Star Wars, Mass Effect, NFL Football, and gaming in general. Follow Adam on Twitter @TheRexTano.

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