I knew this might be a tough year for Madden 21 as it pertains to public perception and review scores, but quite honestly, even I’m surprised at how bad it has been.
I reviewed Madden 21 earlier this week and gave it the lowest score I’ve ever given any version of the series. My score was a 6.25 and apparently I’m not the only one rating Madden 21 fairly low.
According to Metacritic, Madden 21 has an aggregate score of 65 and 69 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively. The user score is even lower. Those must be taken with a grain of salt considering literally anyone can log on and plug in a low score with zero accountability or responsibility to justify their evaluation. Still, it’s got to be tough to see an 0.4 user score for PS4 and an 0.6 on Xbox One.
The question some may have who aren’t 100 percent familiar with the pre-release news and/or the current state of the game is: what’s wrong with Madden 21?
Well, that answer is complicated and layered. I’ll start by quoting my summary of the game in my review of the Xbox One version of Madden 21.
“This is a strange version of the game for several reasons. The post-release updates will be key, but we have to review what’s available now. While the gameplay is in as good of a spot as it’s been for a while, Madden 21 is dragged down but neglected features, stagnant and/or underdeveloped concepts. Hopefully, this inconsistent effort is a product of the development team packing tons into the next-gen version. If not, all things considered, from a reception standpoint, this could be one of the worst years in franchise history.”
That excerpt says a lot about the issues I’d found in the past week, but I’ve noticed even more since publishing my review. The game remains buggy in almost every online mode, and that’s especially the case in The Yard, which was supposed to be one of the game’s biggest additions.
Here’s a taste of what a few others have said who reviewed the game.
Madden 21 is a mess. Last year, the team masked bad gameplay with shiny new X-Factor abilities. However, with 21 not fixing any of the big issues, that luster is completely gone. What you’re left with is a game that’s fully concentrated on squeezing every last cent out of its customer base. That’s nothing new for EA, but Madden NFL 21 just seems even more blatant than usual.
With far more technical issues than normal and large chunks of recycled content, Madden NFL 21 feels more like an update than a brand-new game.
Madden 21’s gameplay takes some appreciable steps forward as the generation comes to a close, with The Yard providing some casual fun. The experience is marred by an abnormal number of bugs though, and the single-player modes remain a major sore point. Ultimately, it’s able to pick up a few yards on the way to the next generation of consoles, but just a few.
As you read through these summaries, the common themes are underdeveloped features and major technical issues that simply cannot be ignored. There’s a chance that post-release updates could fix all or most of the technical problems. There’s also a chance those same updates could add layers to the malnourished franchise mode and pre-mature arcade concept, The Yard.
Another unspoken element that seems apparent is a general dissatisfaction with the series over a number of years. There are some legitimate frustrations as Madden has trotted out some pretty tired concepts for several years. Social media is also littered with some bandwagon riders who are hungry for negativity in a society that loves to hate something.
However, as we’ve learned, it’s difficult for a game to dig itself out of hole once it has had this bad of a start. Many will want to point to the global pandemic as the reason for this poor effort, but I’m not so sure that’s an accurate or believable excuse
Hopefully now, EA will understand that it’s important to #FixMaddenFranchise and to clear up the bugs that are plaguing most other modes in their game. At some point, enough fans will choose to back away from the product to make an imprint on what the publisher may believe is an impenetrable wall of microtransaction revenue.