Madden NFL 21

EA loves a new console launch – so it’s no surprise to learn that both PS5 and Xbox Series X will hit shelves with Madden 21 at their side. June’s EA Play event finally provided a first look at next-gen NFL, as well as the souped-up current-gen editions, and you can see the reveal trailer below. Below we delve deeper into everything else there is to know so far, including its cover star, first round of gameplay features, changes to Face Of The Franchise, and more.

Surprise! In the worst kept secret since Tom Brady departed New England, Lamar Jackson is confirmed as the Madden 20 cover athlete. Jackson outed himself on the Baltimore Ravens official Twitter feed in April – for more info on that, take a peek at our Madden 20 cover vote rundown. He started last season with an in-game base rating of 76 – that rose incrementally across the season to 93 as the play-offs got under way. It then dropped back down to 92, but should jump again now he’s on the box. Expect him to be the second-best QB in the game after Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.

Madden traditionalists swear by the old-school circle-button spin move – so this news is going to garner a mixed reaction. Madden 21 refocuses on right-stick trickery, with EA promising you’ll be able to “link together clever combos that set up amazing gameplay moments”. New moves include “slide hurdles” which can be seamlessly motioned into spins or jukes.

I’m open-minded about this innovation – emulating the elusiveness of someone like Christian McCaffrey or a younger Darren Sproles is exactly what Madden should be about – but it’s going to be hard to police this online, and avoid turning Madden into an arcade game. So long as the traditional control scheme is included as an option and doesn’t feel downgraded, the change could prove a welcome one. 

Already the series’ Achllies heel in recent times, the defensive side of the ball is super important to nail if EA is to succeed in avoiding trick-stick abuse. Initial announcements sound promising. For instance, tackling animations have needed revamping for some time – and now we’re getting three different types of tackle: “location-based, breakdown, and improved dive tackling.”

Solo career mode returns, still called Face Of The Franchise but with a new tagline: ‘Rise To Fame’. Perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t an extension of what was on offer last year. Instead you begin again, as a high school quarterback trying to win a State Championship. Once your school days are over you get to play two seasons in the college football play-offs, before heading into the NFL Combine.

One big fan request has been granted here: while in college you can switch positions from quarterback to running back or wide receiver. Neat. And after being selected in the draft following the NFL Combine, EA is promising storylines in pro football across a number of seasons, “as you make your case for the Hall of Fame.”

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