Each year, all teams have to look at what they currently have and compare what they have with what they need to achieve their goals. This year, EA Tiburon used its offseason to improve gameplay, add a new arcade style experience, and improve its performance mode. But like the middle-class football team, the Madden NFL 21 is not yet ready to run in the postseason glory.
Getting on the field with your teammates, calling games, and working together to excel is always fun. Stadium action, which was strong last year, has only been improved. I love the new Skill Stick to rush past, allowing you to more fluid in your efforts to beat past the attacking linemen. While not as a change for the ball carriers, the Skill Stick gives you more control over the moves you make when you run away from potential attackers. Defenders know more and are more accurate in getting you down in this iteration, and my attacking players have had the opportunity to stretch their arms to reach the final first, add authenticity and reduce the frustration that has arisen over the years. This improvement is small, but it goes a long way in making playing in all directions very enjoyable.
The cinematic performance mode, Face of the Franchise, returns with an expanded pre-NFL experience, but the high school and college backgrounds simply delay you from reaching a major NFL performance. The story and its presentation do not comprehend what is happening; it was funny that even though I beat all the teams by 50 points or more there was still a war of attrition. On the narrative side, the story is full of completely different characters, ranging from your shy friend and rival to the awesome college coach, and the faces in the cutscenes are meant to be covered with soccer helmets.
Once you’ve made it into the NFL, the mode is collected with gratitude. Instead of playing every game. These important moments are presented in the news reports. I loved wandering around these arcs, ranging from leading a team full of star players to the Super Bowl to deal with performance injuries, but I was often annoyed at how little my performance had affected my team’s season. These arcs introduce you to pleasant situations outside the arena, such as talking trash with your opponent to gain stat momentum (but also shooting a key defender), or answering a question at a press conference about colleagues who will affect their behavior. However, even in the NFL, history struggles to accept what is happening on the field; my all-time running with the Ravens ended abruptly when the team decided to replace me with a bad back.
Taking the party command in the hopes of creating the next great empire is always exciting, but I am disappointed with the lack of progress. This is usually my mode to go to Madden, but it sounds almost like last year’s donations.
You can create an online league to take the franchise mode into multiplayer mode or immerse yourself in card-based mode with options such as Seasons and MUT Squads, but Madden NFL 21’s online suite is always very focused on one fast-paced competition. From multi-player head-to-head to fast-paced fire, the 5-minute Superstar KO mode, you can certainly enter the online suite in the sense of adjustment and proceed without long-term commitment.
Madden NFL 21 also introduced Yard, a home-inspired mode, in which 6v6, rules have been changed, and all players are playing both sides of the ball. I enjoy being brought back to the style of football I played with family and friends as a child. With no offensive line, the quarterback can’t scream unless the defender strikes, with the defense applicable to the “One-Mississippi” rule of crossing the line of scrimmage. Throw some elements that are not available in the NFL, such as deceptive play with multiple passes, by hitting the ball directly to any player on your team, and the style back throws again between the caught legs, and the Yard appropriately separates the action from the NFL gridiron. While the mode brings a variety of offline challenges to complete and fun to play with on the head, customized clothing for players often makes it difficult to separate the two teams.
Each time you enter a game, you select a specific type, which acts as a download for your player in that game. These prototypes are mimicked behind some of the biggest NFL stars like Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr., and rise as you use them. I enjoyed adding additional capabilities to my favorite prototypes, but the leak of opening and ambiguity of what I was actually getting – both with prototypes and makeup modes – made it less rewarding.
Sadly, visible immersion bumps occur in all directions, including invisible players on the sidelines, players who send calls in front of your eyes to enter the touch event, and players constantly come in and click on each other after play. These hiccups are not limited to the field, however, as cuts and menus include rotating text, repetitive conversations, and my Face of the Franchise player has the wrong college written on his profile even though there is a long college focus on that mode.
Those who want a big step forward in the EA Sports’ football franchise will not get it with the Madden NFL 21. However, despite some progress, the Madden NFL 21 is still a sound and exciting football game.