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Madden 21 Gameplay: Early Impressions and Notes

Comments will follow in reverse or order from negative to positive, given that the earliest comments need the most attention and fixing.

The Unacceptable:

1. Random Linebacker "jump back" or "back juke". This often happens when user controlled linebacker is approaching the line, and possibly when strafe or L-trigger is applied, but sometime not. Its almost at random when a linebacker doesn't want to run into the back of the D-line. The backer will hop backwards, stop moving, and be stunned, or frozen, in the play. Its horrible. I spend the entire time using the linebacker trying to not let this happen, but its hard because we cant quite tell why it happens. It could be some CPU cheese to get off a big play, or some sort of bad control feedback where strafe stops player movement but it needs to go, ASAP

segue: strafe needs to be more functional. While the presnap movement is better and less jumpy, the strafe is almost broken.

2. Kicking has multiple issues, and its kind of sad. Who came up with making the kicking meter the same color as the kicking cursor bar? So we have this invisible meter, whose speed varies greatly, which is also hidden by the color of the meter. Is this to add challenge.
But the real issue is the glitching. Its scary how much 21 glitches and skips around and i'm concerned it wont be fixed with an easy patch. But the game glitches 50% of the time DURING KICKS. So i have to sail balls into the sidelines, and **** balls into the stands on a pretty consistent basis, all while the meters glitch out during kicks, and it just stinks

3. Cut scenes have gotten obnoxious. Like Daniel Jones said, no swag is the best swag. Why is there a celebration meter for every single tackle for a loss. If I don't select any of the options, can my guy just go back to the huddle, nope! Madden subjects us to a celebration regardless.

segue: and the celebrations after touchdowns have the same issue. Maybe im up big and dont want to celebrate, but madden is going to chose some cheese anyways. The best part was being able to walk around the endzone, run up to the camera man, or chase defenders back to the sideline before trying to spike a ball in their face, BUT in 21 the post TD control has been nurfed to gone. Its sad when new games take steps back.

4. where can we disable pop up menus for things like User Line moves, or how to block shed that pop up inadvertently during the game, when approaching the line or engaged in a block. Users are looking for a pure unencumbered experience, but how we have to run around the field with cheese pop ups, like the developers are patting themselves on the back.

5. Madden developers are so obsessed with speeding up game play for short attention spans, that they have destroyed the clock and clock management with absurd mandatory run offs, THE NUMBER ONE THING DEVS COULD DO: BRING UP THE PLAY BOOKS. spare us the constant cut scenes and celebration menus, and just let us call the next play. Does a simple flag deserve a cut scene that says "flag". Why do i have to button mash just to get the playbooks to pop back up on screen while being subject to brutal cheese cut scenes.

Segue to 6. to be so proud of these cut scenes and showing player and coaches faces and animations, 21 took a brutal step backwards in face scans. Why does every player look like last years Nahime Hynes. The face scans are somewhere between poor, to non existent for most players, and one would think this would be tightened up for a game obsessed with zoomed in cut scenes. The face scan logic should be an easy step from the photo to the player, but for some reason we are seeing massive regression.

7. CPU QB's are constantly intentionally grounding with no penalty. The screen reads "throw away" and the CPU is squarely in the pocket, and the ball sails into the stands, but no grounding penalty. Its just ugly and sloppy, since to be a football game we need the game to have rules. If there is some way to make a distinction between throwing a ball away towards a receiver then okay, but a USER has no such option. Meanwhile its intentional grounding city for CPU QBs and its just another feature that is sad when it happens, which is regularly.

8. When a cpu player is on a break away it does this hurky jurky shake all around movement because that is a better way to evade a defender by slowing the defender logic rather than running strait. In 20, it was the mashing of the switch ball carry sides move that the CPU would mash. Both are pretty sad and sloppy since thats not what happens in football.

9. Players are just a little ice skatey, like its NHL, where foot placement doesn't quite hold true, and the game is a little slippery, but maybe I have to get used to this. We get that you had to nurf the juke, but does it have to be gone, is there anyway to break a tackle, can we have a usable spin move back, we'll see

JUST some of my early first takes on areas of improvement much needed for 21. Its hard to put a finger on all the things that are missing but something is.

Stadiums and fans and sidelines remained untouched.

To end on some positive notes:

A. its nice to have receivers and HB catch a football and be able to turn upfield. Sure its a little sad, that this has to be mentioned as an upgrade, but it is where we are at. Players are bursting and catching a lot smoother but that were where are seeing some of the not true foot plant slip action.

B. Player reaching out the ball for a little extra yards, nice, we see you

C. The QBs throwing out of sacks looks like both a blessing and a curse, while having to throw early was a flaw in 20, maybe we overcompensated with throwing too late, leading to lots of cheese picks, but its probably just an adjustment period.

D. slight improvements to Offensive and Defensive playbooks, all though meager, is something after a decade of stagnancy, but we still have to give credit for even a modicum of improvement.

E. some of the drag down tackles look smoother as they replaced the every-tackle-is-a-collision-life of madden 20. So we see that some effort has been put in

F. and i guess we have to say, its nice to have madden grade rookies an player rankings for new players, maybe the only gift from madden 20 to 21. (also detracted by abysmal player scans)

I don't want to say that all of 21's gains came at the expense of 20's losses but this 21 is not the consummate "step forward" that everyone was hoping for. I'll save Franchise Mode (lol) for another day. Something is missing, something is not quite right, maybe its the glitch obsessed cut screening, or slippery player movement, but we've got all winter to get patches and updates towards why might be an acceptable final product. I'm going to play through....

Love to hear anyone elses comments


  • I had a play where a safety in zone in the sub linebacker position didn’t react to a scrambling Russell Wilson until he had blown past him for 25 yards. Defensive AI logic is still completely flawed and as far as franchise goes, it did not see a single improvement. I also don’t expect some title update in November to be sufficient either, as much as they say they do, they do not value franchise. They know the most loyal customers are those who are such die hard NFL fans that we’ll buy the game regardless. That’s why they pay for the exclusive agreement, they can’t compete so they pay not too.
  • EA_Blueberry
    4798 posts EA Community Manager

    The team is looking to fix the issue with the kicking meter visibility & hitching in the upcoming update. They're always looking into the feedback about the QB throwing out of a sack. Both were mentioned on today's Good Morning Madden Twitch stream.

    Really appreciate you coming here to post a constructive post. Hope to hear from others chime in on your points to gather more thoughts.

    Thank you for playing Madden NFL 21 with us as we approach the kickoff of the NFL season!
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