After getting a chance to preview Madden NFL 22 along with the developers, the long running franchise is looking stronger than ever.
We’re just a few short months away from the start of the NFL season so that means it’s time to get ready for the next Madden season! EA Sports just announced who will be on the cover of the game in a brand new trailer, but there’s a whole lot more in store; including a lot of changes to Franchise mode. We sat down with the developers behind Madden NFL 22 to preview the next game in the franchise.
I think we can all agree 2020 was a rough year for football all around. NFL games weren’t the same without fans and Madden NFL 21 just didn’t live up to fan expectations. After a year of compiling fan feedback, EA Sports has been developing new features based on requests by Madden players and innovation.
Encompassing many of the changes coming to Madden NFL 22 is a new feature they are calling Dynamic Gameday. This is set to dramatically impact gameplay by utilizing three core components: Gameday Atmosphere, Gameday Momentum, and Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI. EA Sports promises all three of these components will provide players with a more realistic and unique gameday experience, unlike anything they’ve experienced in the game’s long history. Let’s talk a little bit more about each of these elements and what I was able to see of them…
Gameday Atmosphere – The Gameday Atmosphere component was something EA Sports seemed to toy with in the next-gen version of Madden NFL 21. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S players saw an increase in fans, sideline players, and weather elements in those versions of the game.
In Madden NFL 22, EA Sports appears to have upped the ante with new environments, cinematics, and even more detailed fans. These aspects will be unique to each NFL stadium and team, so it won’t be the same each time you play. For instance, if the Minnesota Vikings pull off a first down or score a touchdown in U.S. Bank Stadium, you’ll probably hear and see a massive SKOL chant break out.
Gameday Momentum – One of the most challenging new components in Madden NFL 22 is, without a doubt, Gameday Momentum. Going hand-in-hand with Gameday Atmosphere, Gameday Momentum will challenge players by incorporating Home-field Advantage and momentum swings that factor into environment-based Gameday Conditions and gameplay situations.
They’re doing this by including a new Gameday Momentum meter. This meter will trigger M-factors that will make life harder for teams away from their home stadiums. Say you’re playing in Seattle and they are winning. The momentum meter will swing in their favor and cause M-factors to trigger against you. This could mean certain plays are fuzzy and wobbly, which could lead to inaccurate passing situations. Furthermore, it can affect making a game-winning kick, with the kick meter being harder to manage.
On the flip side, if you’re the home team and you’re doing well, you may see M-Factors trigger for you too. These M-factors, obviously, are much more desired, and enact boosts created specifically for each NFL team’s environment and history.
Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI – AI’s are finally smarter in Madden NFL 22. With the inclusion of Next Gen Stats (another feature introduced on PS5 & XSX|S versions of Madden 21), AI behavior and team tendencies are backed by real world data set by players’ real world counterparts. These tendencies will constantly evolve throughout the real world season as well, making it far more realistic and unique.
While those are the three core components of Madden NFL 22, there are tons of new features that were shared during the preview. These include Halftime Adjustments as well as a complete overhaul of Franchise mode. As someone who plays primarily in Franchise mode, I very much appreciate the changes being made this time around.
A More Robust Franchise Mode
For what feels like forever, fans have been pleading with EA Sports to put more of an emphasis on Franchise Mode. It’s a mode players love but has remained stagnant for many years without any significant updates/changes. For Madden NFL 22, EA Sports has added a metric ton to the game mode that provides much more choice and strategy.
One new thing added to Madden NFL 22 is Staff Management. With this new element, players can control how individual coaches progress with an RPG-style skill tree that will have a ripple effect on how your team plays and their stamina.
Speaking of stamina, Franchise Mode will also make player health more of a priority. How they plan on doing this is by allowing Franchise players to manage their players’ participation level. If you’re working with an older star player who has a history of injuries, you may make him a “light participant” in order to not overstress him. Meanwhile, if you’re working with a rookie who you want to become a star, you may make him into a “heavy participant.” Managed correctly, this could have big implications for a team in Franchise Mode.
Strategy will also have big implications in this year’s Madden. Every week in-game, using Next Gen Stats, you’ll be able to see the strengths, weaknesses, and player tendencies of your opponent. With that information, you can craft a gameplan to attack any flaws or defend against their strengths.
Imagine you’re playing the Baltimore Ravens. They absolutely love to run the ball. You may choose to designate your gameplan specifically to defend against the run. Meanwhile, they are weak at pass rush, but have a proficient secondary. So you may want to play more run plays and throw more conservatively.
If ever you choose the wrong gameplan, you can always change it using Halftime Adjustments. This new feature allows players to see what worked and what didn’t and adjust from there. If they’re getting killed in the air against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, you may decide to adjust your defense to defend the pass more.
Franchise Mode will also have new cinematics that will have implications on your player development. Depending on the choices you make, players can earn permanent stat boosts. Don’t get too worked up, however, as it doesn’t sound like these cinematics are a story of some kind. They’re probably more like upgrades to the texts the coach got from players in Madden NFL 21.
Scouting the Field and Other Improvements
One thing I’m intrigued by is the new scouting system that’s coming in September (a few weeks after release). Madden NFL 22 will take scouting to a whole new level by setting regional and national scouts. These scouts will introduce you to prospects who will rise and fall on your draft board based on what they do and how much research you do on them. It won’t be ready at launch, but it could be incredible for the draft process.
Other improvements for Madden NFL 22 include more responsive catch and control mechanics; better sideline catches and turning upfield; improved tackling; better and faster passing pockets and run blocks; and even differences in what players do based on their weight. This means that bigger players will fall forward while slighter ball carriers will not.
Overall, I like a lot of the new changes coming to Madden NFL 22. It seems like EA Sports really took in the fan feedback and are working diligently to create a game players will be excited to play each and every time they log in. Many of us in the preview were cheering and exclaiming “WOW” with each feature I explained above, so they’re definitely off to a good start.
That said, there are some kinks the team is still working on. Right now, ALL QBs are going to be rattled by the M-factors. That is unrealistic because someone like Tom Brady, who has seen everything, shouldn’t be as rattled as someone like rookie QB Zach Wilson. However, the team plans to address that at some point. Also, you can’t turn off the momentum meter. This isn’t necessarily bad, but if it’s too annoying or frustrating, may be an issue for players in thelong term.
The thing to remember, though, is that every Madden game is a marathon. The game we see at launch isn’t the same game by the time the season ends in the real world. They are constantly fine-tuning and adding quality of life features to make their players’ experiences better; though sometimes it doesn’t always pan out the way they want it to. Based on what I was able to see in the preview, I’m encouraged and I can’t wait to dig into it more.
Madden NFL 22 releases on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC Origin and Steam, Google Stadia, and Mobile on August 20, 2021. PS5 and XSX versions will cost $69.99, while PC and last-gen versions will cost $59.99. As an added note, Next Gen Stats and Star-driven AI are only available on PS5 and XSX.