Once again EA Sports has large ambitions for this year’s Madden title, but many of last year’s issues remain.
The annual release of any sports title is one that fans tend to look forward to around the same time each year, and with passionate fanbases behind all of them, none are seemingly more vocal than the Madden community.
Madden 22, then, has much to live up to, and at first glance looks to smooth over some of the rough edges from last year, but still struggles to make progress thanks to longstanding issues.
Madden 22 – Key Details
- Price: $59.99 / £59.99
- Developer: EA Games
- Release Date: 20 Aug, 2021
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Stadia
Madden 22 trailer
New features fail to rejuvenate the classic Madden feeling
While EA was gearing up to release Madden 22 in the weeks before launch, all the talk of the town was centered around new additions coming to the game. From new player classes in Face of The Franchise to a revitalized chemistry format within MUT, EA was playing buzzword bingo in the run-up to launch.
But, while some of these new additions are welcomed within the series, some (such as Home Field Advantage) feel long overdue, while others (like additional Superstar X-Factors) build on what’s already there. Overall, though, there’s a lack of quantifiable difference from last year’s outing.
At launch, the game suffered from plenty of bugs, and a lack of attention to detail, notably showing Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa throwing the football with his right hand – even though he’s one of the few left-handed QBs in the league.
Pushing past all of these bugs, glitches, and whatnot, the new features within Madden 22 are exciting but don’t add much to the core gameplay of Madden. The atmosphere EA has tried to create with many of these Home Field Advantages is great, but simple bugs such as fans in the crowd wearing different jerseys than the signs they’re holding, take away from the overall immersion of the football sim.
Dropping back into the pocket as star QBs such as Mahomes and Rodgers still feels like it does in any other Madden, and some of the Superstar X-Factors that EA Sports has added this year help make this experience more fluid. The gameplay does feel slightly more dynamic than previous years, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with a greater emphasis on stick-based defense.
However, the majority of modes within Madden 22 suffer from the same issues as in previous, or in some cases, have actually regressed.
Face of The Franchise gets sacked for a loss of 15 yards
With other sporting titles such as NBA 2K and MLB The Show having you take a unique story each year, Madden has somehow taken a step back in their storytelling experience. In the past, we would grind our way through some High School games, and then play a few games within the NCAA Playoffs, and this was all fun, as we wouldn’t be guaranteed to be a top pick in the draft.
Through some trials and tribulations, players would find their way onto an NFL team and eventually make their way into the starting roster. But, within Madden 22, they’ve seemingly cut all of these hardships with the newest iteration of Face of the Franchise, as your created player is one of the most talented prospects since Andrew Luck or Joe Burrow.
With the NCAA recently stating that they’re allowing players to make money off their likeness, it would’ve been cool to see us partake in a year-long College season. With our performance directly affecting our draft stock, and how high up on the depth chart we would be within an NFL team. As it is, it feels like the stakes are lower, and we’re “destined for greatness” regardless of our actual performance.
Simulation is king within Franchise
Taking control of your favorite team, signing players, and leading them to glory is something that always hits home with sports fans, and Madden’s take on this mode has seen some new innovations this year. Staff points, talent trees, and a rejuvenated outlook on overall team chemistry are among some of the notable features this year, and they all do a decent job adding something to Franchise mode.
Scouting is also revamped, and it’s been fixed in most aspects and we now get a more in-depth outlook on upcoming players in the draft. There are more frequent press conferences and locker room conversations throughout the seasons, allowing the player to get a better insight into the grand scheme of the league and how some of their players are reacting to their current standing.
It’s easily the best format the mode has seen in years, and it seems a lot of attention has been put into Franchise mode this time around. With all of the Home Field Advantages added, it’s one of the shining stars within this year’s Madden.
MUT is still MUT
Perhaps the most popular mode in other titles such as FIFA and MLB The Show, Madden Ultimate Team has been under fire in recent years. That’s largely due to the fact that it’s heavily weighted in favor of those that spend money or grind the mode religiously.
In Madden 22, MUT isn’t all that bad, despite suffering from the same core issue. Restructured chemistry aspects make building a team a lot easier, as there is no longer a reliance on making sure your team is in sync before heading into the match. This allows for combinations of players we’ve not seen in previous MUTs, promoting more experimentation within the mode.
For MUT to truly succeed, it needs to take notes from MLB The Show 21 in our eyes, which simply cannot be beaten when it comes to free content for players. That franchise offers consistent updates and ways to build a team without spending real cash, something EA can learn from.
Madden 22 takes some leaps in certain modes such as Franchise, but takes some gigantic steps backward or maintains inconsistent levels of gameplay in others. While Face of the Franchise loses much of its “underdog story” vibe, Franchise has taken steps forward, while for every MUT improvement, there’s a new on-the-field annoyance.
Another year stuck in place, then, but there’s still fun to be had for those looking to score plenty of in-game touchdowns – just don’t expect any huge yardage gains for the franchise as a whole here.
Reviewed on PC