EA Sports’ Madden franchise has seen its share of controversy in recent months. The slow launch of the latest version of Madden, the lack of support for the main game modes and the sudden price increase for the Madden Ultimate Team packs have provoked a strong reaction from players. However, with the release of the next-gen version of Madden 21, EA has had a chance to eliminate at least some of these problems. The new version, which came out on the 3rd. December is officially out, and offers many new possibilities.
It’s been a little over a month, so we’ve had time to make a decision. Electronic Arts and the Madden development team scored a goal with an optimized next-gen title? Let’s take a big dip.
Next generation Step
EA Sports promised a new look for the next generation of Madden, and in many ways it has delivered on that promise. The new generation Madden 21 face scanners are nicer than the old generation, as are the sets in and around the stadiums. EA has also improved the presentation graph by adding a new read reminder screen. Madden 21 also presents the NFL Next-Gen stats that appear during the game. They go beyond traditional sports data, usually showing speed and meters gained after a big race. They seem like small additions, but at least these additions make the presentation deeper.
In terms of gameplay, the new generation of Madden 21 offers new twists. The running animation seems clearer, and the positioning of the AI seems to have improved slightly. However, Madden’s gameplay is still marred by some rather unattractive and dysfunctional animations. We also noted that sometimes AI still has problems detecting weak bullets after falling, which should be corrected in the near future.
Did the risky pass work in franchise mode?
The optimized version of the next generation Madden 21 is very similar to the NBA 2K21. As with 2K21, many of the basic modes, including Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), The Yard and Face of the Franchise, remain intact. This shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since the progress of The Yard and MUT can be split between them.
The franchise system, which has been a staple at Madden for decades, also remains relatively unchanged. However, it is important to note that the current edition of Franchise Mode has undergone a major overhaul since the release of Madden 21 in August. In recent months, EA Sports has implemented improved AI business logic, an NFL playoff bracket tree that can be found later in the season, a regression adjustment for developmental traits and the ability to see the full list of missing players at the end of an NFL season.
Many of these changes and additions were justified and these additions have been carried forward to the next generation. EA Sports also made other changes to Franchise Mode with a patch released in mid-January. Judging by our reports, the new additions are promising. But it’s important to note that the franchise mode of the next-gen version is essentially a facsimile of its older generation Madden counterpart. So unless you plan on playing the new version of Connected Franchise with friends on Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, we don’t recommend buying the new version just for the Franchise mode.
After our experience with the new version of Madden 21, it is clear that we cannot recommend purchasing this version of EA Sports’ football simulation. It’s not that the next-gen edition is terrible, as there are some gameplay changes that refresh Madden 21. Moreover, it is difficult for us to recommend buying a game whose game modes show no discernible difference between the old and new generation.
Another issue related to the title concerns the online multiplayer action. In our time with Madden 21, we noticed that there were times when we couldn’t find a single game to play online. That’s not surprising, even though Madden is a major force in the gaming world. This may be due in part to the lack of interest in the Madden series by casual players after the end of the NFL regular season. But perhaps the most important factor is the lack of gamers who even own an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. Since the X and PS5 series were barely available in the market at the time of writing, we can assume that this change had a negative impact on the matching process.
With all this in mind, our recommendation for the Madden 21 project is as follows: Unless you already own a copy of the current generation title that comes with next generation bragging rights and a PS5 or Xbox Series X, don’t rush. While this edition was an acceptable launch thanks to a few subtle changes to the next-gen version, the changes aren’t big enough to drive us crazy compared to the Madden 21 next-gen. Our advice is to wait for the Madden 22 if you’re looking for a true next-gen experience.
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