EA Sports titles aren’t usually the most revered among their fans, whether it’s due to the copious amount of microtransactions or the lack of any real changes. Nevertheless, they remain popular and EA Tiburon’s Madden NFL 22 looks to cash in on that with exclusive features for current-gen consoles, returning modes and much more. It’s out on August 17th for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and Google Stadia. Let’s take a look at 15 things you should know before taking the plunge.
Dynamic Gameday™ is exclusive to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions and aims to make gameplay across each mode feel “fresh and offer a deeper level of strategy.” This is divided into three components – Gameday Momentum, Gameday Atmosphere and Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI. Gameday Momentum introduces a “Tug-of-War” meter where different effects called M-Factors come into play, either providing benefits or challenges depending on how well you play. Make big plays and the meter increases faster (while teams playing on their home turf receive an extra unique M-Factor). EA Tiburon noted that this meter is “tuned differently” in modes like Tournaments, Online Ranked Head-to-Head and Ultimate Team Mode, hopefully being less viable as a steamroll option.
Next is Gameday Atmosphere, which has various factors – like the weather, rivalries, field quality, the crowd and so – bringing unique modifiers that can affect both teams. A good example is that slippery surfaces will decrease the change-of-direction ratings for all players. Finally, there’s the Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI which sees player and team behavior being closely based on their real world counterparts. This means you’ll have a different experience playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers who prioritize defense than the Buffalo Bills who are all about passing.
Movement, Blocking, Catching and Tackling Changes
Improvements have also been made to the core gameplay, whether its player movement, catching, tackling or blocking. Such improvements include ball carriers and defenders using “maximum effort” (yes, seriously) when breaking into a sprint while quarterbacks have more “smooth and explosive control” (with more animations and transitions to signify this). All of the most used tackles have been refreshed while new ones like Sideline Tackles, Early Hurdle Tackles and Touch-Player-Down Tackles have been added. Run After Catches in multiplayer are being toned down while catch height thresholds are tuned to allow receivers to have a bigger catch radius (while defenders have more range when trying to knock the ball away). New animations are also being added for blocking with interactions having a larger variety of angles to start from.
There are also all of the minuscule changes and improvements like Pass Lead and Pass Trajectory having increased range; more Scramble Sack interactions in multiplayer; nearby teammates helping your ball carrier up when the whistle is blown; and much more. Impact Blocks will now take the momentum of players into account while the High Throw mechanic is being made more effective. How all of this plays out in practice remains to be seen though.
Updated Playbooks and New Formations
Playbooks have been updated once again based on real-world NFL performance till the end of the last season so you’ll see the Miami Dolphins leaning more into blitzing while the Baltimore Ravens focus heavily on runs. About 300 new plays have been added along with new formations like the Pistol Open Flex Close, Gun Empty Quads, Singleback Bunch X Nasty and others that I wish were made up. Other changes like better defender leverage against receivers, improved logic for Red Zone and End Zone defenders, and having the AI better recognize pass plays with vertical crossing routes are also being implemented.
Face of the Franchise
The closest thing to a Career mode this time around is Face of the Franchise. Dubbed “United We Rise”, it sees players starting as a prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft. You’ll get involved with team interviews, private workouts and various events and have to make choices for what to prioritize. A range of characters from your mentor Carter Landry to close friend and agent Jordan Wright are on hand to interact with as you attempt to increase your draft stock and win big.
Another returning mode is The Yard which allows players to venture to different fields and venues with unique rules, completing different objectives and Proving Grounds games before tackling the boss (which is usually a high profile NFL player). There are four chapters overall and you can play it in either solo or co-op. Venues also offer bonus games with unique rules and Mastery Games with previous opponents returning stronger than ever.
Recruiting Bosses and Auto-Draft
One of the cooler aspects of The Yard is being able to recruit the defeated bosses into your own squad. This makes it possible to amass a potent squad by just playing through the mode. An auto-draft option is also available if you just want to jump into a game quickly, though it’s still possible to manually draft your team beforehand.
Venue and Perfection Rewards
As you win and achieve different objectives in The Yard, you’ll receive new gear, REP and CRED. Each venue has its own gear set to farm as well, providing enough incentive to replay them. Complete every objective in every game and you’ll receive an exclusive gear item. These are high tier items ranging from jerseys to helmets and showcase one’s dedication to the grind.
A new addition in Face of the Franchise and The Yard are classes, each possessing unique Superstar Abilities and one X-Factor ability. Leveling a class provides Skill Points for boosting OVR while also bestowing gear, CRED and REP. Both modes have their own exclusive classes though progression is unified among the common ones. Classes revealed thus far include Mojo which is all about cornerback and the wide receiver position; the Freak which excels as an outside linebacker and halfback; and the Goliath, capable of numerous roles like middle linebacker and offensive lineman.
Season Engine and Modular Cinematics
Franchise Mode offers a variety of new things like Franchise Staff, Franchise Staff Points to upgrade coach characters, Talent Trees and whatnot. But most intriguing is the Season Engine which provides 30 new scenarios that can occur at any time during the season based on how your Franchise progresses. New modular cinematics reinforce the narrative significance of these scenarios as well. And don’t worry – you’ll also be attending Press Conferences to field questions from the media, just like in real life.
Mix and Match Superstar X-Factor Abilities
Introduced in Madden NFL 21, Superstar X-Factor abilities once again make a return but with a unique twist. Along with new abilities being added, players can also mix and match X-Factor abilities after leveling different classes to create unique builds. Though it leans even more into the RPG aspect of the title, it does offer even more customization for players.
LIVE Events are meant to coincide with real-world NFL events. The first major LIVE Event is the Pro Bowl competition, taking place in the new London field with a five game gauntlet. Details on other events will be provided in the coming months but the developer is touting some “exciting brand partnerships” for fans.
If you enjoy fast games with real NFL teams, then Superstar KO is the way to go. Its unique stadiums embody football culture and you can pick any team you want along with any Playbook (with numerous teams, stadiums and rosters debuting in Madden NFL 22). Options are available for 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 games with modes like Superstar KO and traditional NFL rules.
Madden Ultimate Team Auction Changes
Perhaps the least surprising return of all the different modes is Madden Ultimate Team with changes being made to Auctions. Details on recent sale prices for an item along with how many are up for sale will be offered. There will also be Price Ranges based on an item’s median sale price on each platform (which goes up or down hourly based on market trends). This means that you can’t price an item above a certain range and gouge other players.
Special Editions and Dual Entitlement
Of course, it wouldn’t be a modern sports title without multiple different editions to purchase. Along with the Standard Edition for $70 on Xbox Series X/S and PS5 ($60 on Xbox One and PS4), there’s the Dynasty Edition for $120. This includes three day early access, 100 Franchise Staff Points, level 10 for the general starting player class and capsules for Tom Brady Gear and a Legend Athlete. You also have a choice between a Brady or Patrick Mahomes Elite item, a Curated Legends Pack for either player, a choice of one of out 32 NFL stars, exclusive challenges in the early access window and 22 Gold Team Fantasy Packs in Ultimate Team. The MVP Edition is slightly cheaper at $100 with 60 Franchise Staff Points, no Legend Athlete Capsule, only 11 Gold Team Fantasy Packs and no Curated Legends Pack.
Both special editions offer Dual Entitlement. This allows for upgrading from the PS4 and Xbox One versions to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions respectively. It’s essentially giving you two copies of the same game for either PlayStation or Xbox platforms. Cross-gen progression includes Madden Rank, Wallet, gear, vanity purchases, all progression from The Yard and Face of the Franchise, and MUT (save for competitive mode progress). However, you only have a two month window after launch for transferring progress from previous to current gen consoles.