Yesterday, the day many NFL fans had been waiting for finally came, the announcement of EA Sports’ next edition of Madden, with Madden NFL 21 available from August 22 or 25 (depending on which version you purchase).
The yearly edition of the ‘the authentic NFL experience’ (having been to my first Steelers’ game last year, no way is this true) always promises to draw the ire of a certain amount of the player base, both for real NFL players when it comes to ratings and gamers in balancing simulation with playability—and one can’t but help think this year will be no different.
Whether you play or not, the game will be a subject that dominates headlines as this offseason roles on, here’s my first reactions as a Madden player, NFL fan and Steelers fan:
- It’s jarring to see Lamar Jackson on the cover and worse spinning through the Steelers defensive backs, particularly Steven Nelson, as he scores against the Steelers (please T.J. lead in sacks and be on next year’s cover).
- Equally, the Steelers’ defense is again called out in the 90-second video preview, with Derrick Henry destroying Joe Haden (what do the developers have against the Steelers?).
- At least we got a taste of what’s to come in our games against the Bengals, with Watt landing a QB hit (and what looks like a hurry) on Joe Burrow.
- Bring on the pass rush with new ‘Skill Stick’ controls which offer greater responsiveness for specific pass rush moves and combos, while the offensive line builds resistance to moves used too often (thank’s EA, Madden20 was a nightmare against Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa, DeMarcus Lawrence). This is exciting for Steelers fans given our outside linebacker and defensive line depth, as I believe Watt and Tuitt will be the biggest beneficiaries of this addition.
- The ‘Skill Stick’ is also set to revamp and improve offensive play, by offering ‘dead-leg’, ‘slide hurdles’, spins and loads of juking to create amazing gameplay. Whilst these additions or improvements are great for Madden players on YouTube or Twitch, for fans looking for an ‘authentic experience’ the new innovative ball-carrier system is what is most exciting and interesting.
- ‘Face of the Franchise’, Madden’s Career Mode, is back with ‘Rise to Fame.’ This deepens the cinematic experience for players with two seasons of College Football Playoffs, not just one like in Madden 20. It also has the ability to play positions other than Quarterback, and there will even be a level of high-school play included in the mode (EA look to be testing the clear waters on appetite among fans for another NCAA Football game, once legislation is changed on student athletes profiting from their likeness).
- Updated NFL Playbooks are also listed as a key feature. This will be interesting for teams like the Steelers with the move to sub-package heavy schemes. As a player who creates his own playbook based on the Steelers’ playbook, I’d still like to see EA bring back the ability to create your own custom plays (this was a feature in the late 1990s, early 2000s yet seems to be in the ‘too hard’ basket now).
- ‘X-Factor Abilities’ are back and revitalized. I can’t wait to see how the Steelers’ top players are allocated, or not allocated, these in-game super-powers.
- Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) is of course back, with the majority of new additions yet to be talked about and will be realized once the actual NFL season starts.
There’s my first reactions, let me know what you thought of this Madden NFL 21 news, will you be willing to spend $60 or more to play what some are calling a glorified roster update?