Confession time, I’m one of the idiots that buys the new Madden every single year. The franchise hasn’t changed (pun super-intended) since EA acquired the exclusive rights to the NFL, and every year, I basically drop $60 on a roster update. Most years, I buy the game with the justification that I will continue to defend my Madden Championship in the BroSports online franchise, and don’t complain too much.
But man, Madden 21 is different.
Madden 21 Is a Special Kind of Bad
Firstly… this game isn’t even pretty. I thought that maybe, because it’s a launch title for the next generation of consoles, it would be slightly more appealing graphically, and maybe on them, it will be. But on my PlayStation 4? I think it looks worse than Madden 20. The shading isn’t as good, the avatars are blocky, and they don’t even move as smoothly. Look below, which picture is from Madden 20, and which picture is from Madden 21?
Look how buggy this is. This isn’t me playing against my friend William in England, or my friend Mikey in Vegas, this is me, playing against a computer on two different occasions.
Firstly, it froze up on the end-of-game report. I couldn’t move around the menu, and I had to close the app, restart it, and replay the last three seconds of the game… twice. And secondly, we have this stunning display of AI where Tom Brady hits a wide open D.K. Metcalf (don’t worry about it), and Mr. Metcalf doesn’t seem interested in the first down, the touchdown, or ya know… acknowledging the ball at all.
We also have this beau, where Derek Carr hits Henry Ruggs III (see, this makes more sense) wide open (I’m really good at Madden), and even though he has possession with feet down in-bounds, the game rules it incomplete. I challenged it, but the game confirmed it as incomplete. Madness.
The loading screens are brutal, the frame-rate craps out during plays, free agent Jadeveon Clowney straight up isn’t in the game, and the first patch they released fixed basic spelling.
This is symptomatic of a bigger issue with video games at the moment. There’s so much pressure to get games out on time, that they’re frequently released incomplete or with bugs. The biggest game studios, Bethesda (Fallout ’76), Rockstar (GTA V), and Activision (Call of Duty: Black Ops 4) have no problem releasing broken games, knowing that their hardcore audience (myself included) will buy the game anyway.
EA is particularly terrible with this, frequently releasing re-skinned, half-assed versions of their most famous franchises. Ever since they’ve started with Madden Ultimate Team and micro-transaction factories, they’ve cared even less about regular gameplay.
The good news? You can buy a copy of NFL 2k5, the last good football video game, on Amazon right here.