Thank you to Electronic Arts for providing the early review copy for Xbox Series X.
Last week, I got my hands on Madden 22 and I am finally able to share my thoughts. Anyone who read my review of Madden 21 last year, would know that I wasn’t that happy with the state of the game, especially with franchise mode. Electronic Arts promised that new changes would come next year, and I am happy to report that they did deliver. However, there were still a lot of shortcomings that I will discuss below.
Lets start off with the two game modes that will require just a short response. The Yard and Superstar KO have returned, but both of them feel the same as they did last year. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, because both game modes are fun. Considering that they are obviously more of a side activity rather then a main focus game mode like MUT or Franchise, makes me feel that big changes aren’t really needed. On top of that, Electronic Arts has promised that more big content will be arriving to Superstar KO early in the season, so maybe twists and changes are around the corner.
Franchise returns with a bunch of cool changes. Franchise now includes staff management which means you can manage your individual coordinators using skill progression like an RPG. There is now an evolved mechanic for preparing for your next game with new drills for practice. Electronic Arts also has said that there is a brand new scouting system in development that will come later in the year. Its nothing super crazy, but seeing even a bit of effort being put into franchise mode is very nice to see.
Ultimate Team is the game mode that usually interests me the least. The “thrill” for getting new cards and packs haven’t interested me since my days in high school where I would grind Madden Mobile. On top of that, buying packs to make my team the best it can be is not interesting to me what so ever. However, Ultimate Team made $1.5 billion in revenue for Electronic Arts last year, so there will always be a huge audience for that part of the game which will continued to be supported.
Face of the Franchise was the absolute most disappointing part of Madden 22 for me. It still feels like such a downgrade compared to Longshot. The story is very minimal and showcases a star college player who is going to be a top three pick in the upcoming draft. It has your character going to a six week long Nike training camp with a bunch of other NFL stars. I am not even gonna focus on how unrealistic that ever happening is, because I have a list of other more pressing matters to complain about. Face of the Franchise is supposed to be focusing on your player, yet when you play in your two college games, for some reason you are forced to play both sides of the ball. On top of that, they removed the quick simulation feature so you are forced to play through it. The quick simulation tool comes back once you make it to the NFL which makes things seem even weirder. Its just a minor gripe, but it is something I needed to mention. The thing that irks me the most is how bad the cutscenes look. The first couple cutscenes feel similar to how longshot cutscenes felt a few years ago (which is bad enough because I expect enhancements over the last three years). However, things somehow get worse just two hours into the “story.” I have attached some videos below, and I think that most people will agree that they look nothing like how a “next generation” game should look. There is also the problem that characters who were voiced, ARE NO LONGER VOICED during some conversations. Could Electronic Arts really not afford to spend the extra money to record these side activity lines for Face of the Franchise? It breaks the immersion to have one cutscene be voiced, and then the next to just have textboxes. Something like this is completely fine for an indie team, but this is Electronic Arts. They make billions of dollars each year. Having cutscenes remain consistent in quality should be something that comes without asking.
The last thing that bothered me with Face of the Franchise is a small thing that isn’t game breaking, but it is immersion breaking. My player was drafted #1 overall by the Jaguars. However, the Jaguars also draft Trevor Lawrence with their second pick in the draft and he shows up in the background at practice. How and why?
There are quite a few new mechanics added to Madden 22, but none of them are game changing. They are nice improvements, but I don’t think they are going to convince anyone who didn’t enjoy Madden 21 to want to buy Madden 22.
- Gameday Momentum adds a new momentum meter and unlockable perks called momentum factors that give different advantages to all 32 home teams, unique to each stadium. Some of the perks include causing the screen to shake for your opponent or the routes to get swapped up during the pre snap.
- Gameday Atmosphere adds new crowd animations, super fans, and remastered audio that makes the stadiums feel more lively.
- Star Driven A.I makes teams use more realistic play calls and causes players to adjust at halftime.
- Catching Control has been improved so it is more responsive with its foot detection by sidelines and player reaction when turning up field after the catch.
- Tackling animations have improved to truly represent size and weight mismatches between players.
- Blocking has been improved to be more organic and dynamic in the pocket
- One crash that turned off my Xbox Series X while playing Face of the Franchise.
- The announcers are still really glitchy. I said this in my review last year and I noticed multiple announcer errors in the first game that I played (Super Bowl LV rematch). For example, they might say that it is a players first completion of the game, when in reality they have had multiple. It is really just a lot of stuff similar to that. Nothing game breaking, but it still kills immersion which is important to me when gaming.
- Plenty of minor visual glitches including my light skinned Face of the Franchise player having dark skinned legs.
- Trevor Lawrence still getting drafted to the Jaguars after me in Face of the Franchise.
Madden 22 is not a great game, but it is a step in the right direction compared to Madden 21. For someone who doesn’t love Madden Ultimate Team, I don’t think I can recommend it for $70. I think those people should just play it through EA Play Pro or should just rent it for two months and then pick it up on sale when it is in the $20-30 range. However, if you have the money to spend, and you enjoy playing online, then you probably aren’t even reading this anymore and have already started downloading Madden 22.