While the official “Madden NFL 21” release date isn’t here yet, players have been able to access the game early.
Whether it’s official reviewers receiving an advanced copy, or EA Play subscribers who gained access a week early, plenty of people have opened up Madden 21 already. And the early reviews are … not great. There was already anger among the Madden community ahead of the game’s release, and that probably won’t subside once it reaches its worldwide release.
The biggest issue since the game’s pre-release has been a number of bugs, glitches, typos and other basic elements of a video game. You’d think the complaints would be with gameplay or lack of features, but the reviews are more concerned with the simple factors that shouldn’t be an issue.
“This looks like an unfinished product,” YouTuber Ryan Moody said in his Madden 21 review. “This isn’t what a customer should get when they open a box for a new game.”
In Moody’s video, he asked his subscribers to send in screenshots from their time playing Madden 21. He received a number of different glitches from the game involving scenes that don’t make sense, typos, weird animations and more. And while Madden has always had a few issues in past games, this year those issues really seem larger than before.
And this isn’t just a one-off case of Moody complaining about the game. Many users in the Madden subreddit also submitted errors they’ve seen in the short time playing this game. Remember, people playing Madden 21 through EA Play only have 10 hours of gameplay before the official release. So it’s not like they’re spending an insane amount of time trying to find glitches. This is them barely playing the game and finding a litany of errors.
The issues that stood out included the field not rendering properly, trade logic not making sense, poor grammar in Face of the Franchise and images not loading properly.
Video game writer Bryan Wiedey also recognized a number of errors while playing the game. In a Twitter thread, Wiedey pointed out issues involving his quarterback getting stuck while playing, not throwing the ball properly and a typo where the Seahawks are spelled “Seahacks.”
It’s pretty evident already that #MaddenNFL21 suffers from an abnormal number of visual bugs (inc. invisible players, missing field art, misspellings). Would appear that disruptions from the pandemic and any shift in resources to next-gen are the likely culprits.
— Bryan Wiedey (@pastapadre) August 21, 2020
While the weird bugs and glitches are annoying, they are (or should be) easy to fix in patch updates. Also, the game isn’t officially out yet so hopefully the EA Sports development team can fix these before everyone is playing the game. Which is why it’s important to note these bugs aren’t the only problems fans have with the game.
YouTuber Marcus Whitman, or That Franchise Guy, uploaded a video titled “An Honest Review Of Madden 21.” In it, he breaks down each game mode from Madden 21 and explains what he likes, or doesn’t like about it. His main critique is that the video game does not do a good job to represent simulated football like it once did.
“Overall, Madden 21 might be a good video game,” Whitman sayd. “The problem is, it is not a good football simulation game. And frankly, it’s frustrating that the National Football League is okay with that. … Outside of tweaking a few lines of code for aggression and simulation stats, what did EA add to this game that isn’t arcade? So if you buy Madden to simulate what you see on Sundays, particularly in a single player experience, I can’t possibly think of a good reason for you to pay full value for this game that is a measly patch note update to Madden 20.”
Whitman admits that if you like arcade-style football games, then you’d probably enjoy Madden 21. But for those seeking football simulation, which EA Sports owns the rights to, then you’re going to be disappointed.
But while Whitman says the arcade-style isn’t bad, others aren’t as confident. The main reason Whitman mentions the arcade-style of the game is because of Madden 21’s new game mode The Yard. This game mode looks interesting from the outside, but YouTuber SOFTDRINKTV explains why he was let down with it.
“The Yard is actually an example of EA trying something new. But it’s just not fun, ” he says. “It’s bogged down by Madden’s awful gameplay. It looks cool, but it was a complete disappointment when I played it. It felt soulless and lifeless. But The Yard highlights exactly what EA’s issue has been for this entire console generation. Each year they focus all their time and effort on everything except the core game.”
SOFTDRINKTV came away with the same take as Whitman.
“If all you want Madden 21 for is The Yard, and that’s all you will play, then maybe this game mode would be worth paying like $10 for,” he says. “But if you’re someone looking to play an NFL football game, in fact the exclusive simulation NFL video game, you are going to be disappointed. Because when you look past this flashy back-of-the-box feature, you’ll start to realize that Madden 21 really has nothing impressive to offer at all. It begs the question: Why spend all of your time and resources on such an unorthodox game mode if the rest of the game is suffering?”
The message seems to be clear from the reviews.
If you’re someone who plays online or enjoys Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), then you’re going to buy this game. If you think The Yard looks like fun, or you enjoy Face of the Franchise, then you might have fun playing this game, but it’ll be overpriced. But if you’re a casual gamer who enjoys a detailed franchise mode or playing against the computer, then this game probably isn’t for you.
While EA Sports hasn’t dedicated much time to franchise mode in recent years, it really feels like this year has been the tipping point for frustrated fans. After all, this is the first year that fans actually received a response from the EA Sports team regarding their frustration over franchise mode.
Sporting News will release its own review when we get our copy of the game, but the consensus from those who have played it is pretty obvious at this point.