Madden 22 comes closer to bringing it back to the house, but it still needs some work – Review

Madden 19 is coming out and with it a huge roster update. The redesign of the franchise mode was a great step in the right direction, but it left some fans disappointed. However there is some good news for long time fans of the game: the franchise mode is now more user friendly, and it will be harder for the competition to make a run at you.

Last night, in the second week of play in the Madden 22 offseason series, the New England Patriots came out on top. They took down the Washington Redskins 31-28, in what was the most competitive game of the series thus far. Although the game ended as a blowout, it was a game that showed us some things we can take away from it. There were a lot of good individual performances and some poor ones, but the team as a whole finally put together a complete game, without a ton of mistakes.

The last time Madden put out a title that featured players earning huge contracts from team owners, it was so popular that the NFL put out a rule change that read, “Between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M., all players with a contract are ineligible to play.” The result was an uproar from players and fans alike, as the league tried to find a way to protect players from themselves.. Read more about madden 22 release date and let us know what you think.

Last year was a particularly trying year for the Madden franchise. Despite the inclusion of The Yard, Madden 21 was unable to establish any consistency after the repercussions of #FixMaddenFranchise. Much of this can be due to a clumsy and crowded Madden Ultimate Team UI, choppy gameplay, higher MUT pack pricing, and a lengthy wait for much-needed Franchise mode updates. And, following a rocky start to the next-gen era, it was reasonable to question whether this generation of Madden games could live up to the prior ones.

Is EA Sports’ Madden 22 a step up over last year’s game? Yes, but early results indicate that there is more work to be done.

Expectations of gameplay stifled?

EA Sports provided this image.

I wrote about my thoughts on the Madden 22 early access beta back in July. I said in that article that some aspects of the gameplay, such as player animations, seemed more fluid than in previous games. With the complete edition of Madden 22, this remained much the case. For the most part, receiver animations and running motions look and feel great.

However, there are still certain aspects of the game that aren’t quite right. AI offensive players failing to return and block for ball handlers, strange zone plays when defenders seem to be missing, and a lack of situational awareness are just a few examples. And what’s fascinating is that the same could be said about previous years’ games. 

While new visuals and AI changes are among the game’s major features, the new Momentum system is probably the most important. This feature’s goal is straightforward: to properly measure the hidden elements of real-life momentum in sports. Sure, no one can see momentum intrinsically, but everyone can feel it. Teams who are leading by a large margin have a huge mental edge over their opponents. Teams who begin to chip away at leads, on the other hand, may claim that things are going their way and put the opponent on notice.

Momentum is simply this: measure it with enhancements that favor either the home or away side, depending on who is hot. These bonuses may range from graphic play art shakes to in-game enhancements that can assist you or your opponent. The Madden team made a great addition here, although it seems to be in need of some tweaking.

One problem I found was that the Momentum bar didn’t make sense in certain situations. This is an example of this in action at work:

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The away team is on the opponent’s side of the field and holds a touchdown advantage late in the fourth quarter with almost no time remaining. I’m all for mixing things up and making the game more difficult, but how does this make sense in this case? Again, adding something like this makes logic, but it must be fine-tuned to accurately represent real-world situations.

Madden 21’s gameplay can be summed up with a simple glass-half-full/glass-half-empty comparison. The game is considerably more balanced and entertaining thanks to enhanced visuals, NFL Next-Gen Broadcast data, improved receiving animations, and a mechanism that prevents certain defensive plays and strategies from being abused. However, additional issues, such as those stated above, along with a staleness in Arcade and Simulation settings make this a mixed bag.

MUT undergoes a transformation.

1629491601_928_Madden-22-comes-closer-to-bringing-it-back-to-theEA Sports provided this image.

Madden 21’s Madden Ultimate Team, on the other hand, was far from spectacular. MUT 20 had an unattractive user interface, and a rise in pack pricing sparked a reaction from the Madden community.

MUT looks and feels a little different this year. The UI is more user-friendly, and finding challenges and various modes is a breeze. And, while we’re on the subject of new features, MUT gamers will like the new Ultimate Season feature. MUT levels will be reset this year, allowing players to earn new prizes. While this seems to be quite similar to what MLB The Show does with Inning Programs, that isn’t a big deal if the users benefit. The low XP for finishing tasks in MUT, on the other hand, is worth noting, since it implies that players will have to grind a lot to obtain all of the prizes.

A franchise makeover that isn’t finished

1629491602_856_Madden-22-comes-closer-to-bringing-it-back-to-theEA Sports provided this image.

Last year, #FixMaddenFranchise was probably one of, if not the, most important topics in the world of video games. In 2020, the Madden community started a major social media campaign to draw the attention of Madden developers to Franchise mode’s lack of attention. The Madden team, led by Madden head producer Seann Graddy, guaranteed that both Madden 21 and Madden 22 will bring significant improvements to the community.

Some of these improvements were made last year, such as better trade logic and playoff race displays. Coaches will be able to have player and media interactions this year, which is a great feature that offers the user a glimpse into the life of an actual NFL head coach. These discussions may vary from players griping about the team’s condition to more unusual topics like mid-season retirements.

While I understand why the latter was introduced, it’s strange to see it come up so often, given how few stars ever leave in the middle of a season. Sure, Vontae Davis and Andrew Luck are exceptions, but when Von Miller, a capable linebacker, comes to me and essentially says, “Hey, I’m thinking of retiring even though we’re 2-0 and I’m still considered a force in the league,” my biggest worry is that this will happen on a regular basis. 

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Of course, if you miss this retirement discussion, none of this matters, but do you really want to do that if you’re seeking for a genuine experience? Overall, I like this player-coach component, but refining — maybe an end-of-season retirement discussion — should be a top focus in the future.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include scouting, which is a big selling point for this year’s game. In fact, the publisher conducted a 30-minute presentation with members of the development team along the way to EA Play 2021 to showcase this new feature. The main issue is that Madden 21’s updated scouting of football players was not included when it was released. This functionality will be available in September as part of a live content update, according to EA Sports.

The most requested addition from the Madden community was a new scouting system, and it might be a game-changer. However, it’s difficult to modify the game if it’s not in it, thus this mode seems to be unfinished at launch.

The final decision

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Madden 22 has a lot of things to enjoy. EA Sports has taken little efforts to improve Franchise mode, and the new coordinators and discussions should work nicely with the upcoming scouting makeover. Much of the same is present in Superstar KO and The Yard, where players are rewarded with MUT packs and other items. In addition, there are several notable gameplay enhancements.

However, the most important issue is whether this game is worth the $70 next-gen price tag. No, not just now. There’s more work to be done, and that’s not something anybody wants to hear. Madden 22 has the potential to be great, but it isn’t quite there yet.

+ In comparison to previous years, improved animations and crisp visuals accelerate the pace.
+ The improvements to MUT and Franchise are much-needed and add complexity to the game.
More work has to be done on the momentum system.
The in-game experience is hampered by strange gaming AI.
Those who wish to start a Franchise file at the beginning of the year will be harmed by the lack of a revised Scouting system.

This review was produced with the use of a game code supplied by the publisher.

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