It’s that time of the year where a new NFL season is just around the corner and the Madden franchise is hitting the virtual gridiron. Madden NFL 22 brings a host of gameplay, graphical and core gameplay changes that dial-up the realism. EA listened to fans and introduced big updates to the Franchise Mode providing a more engaging and in-depth experience. After putting many hours into EA Tiburon’s latest entry of franchise it’s clear strategy this year is all about doubling down and improving on pre-existing modes. Did the gamble payoff and provide a better Madden football experience? Let’s hit the field and find out!
Madden NFL 22 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5,
Xbox Series X, PC and Stadia
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
The next-gen Madden experience
One of the first things you’ll notice booting up Madden 22 is the stunning visuals, especially on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. EA’s Frostbite graphics engine is really paying dividends as it further taps into the power of next-gen consoles. Stunning lighting reflections bounce off player helmets and more subtle additions have been made that really dial up the authenticity.
Madden NFL 22’s presentation
In terms of overall presentation, Next Gen Stats have returned from Madden 21 and are a real focal point. These stats have been given more of a spotlight at the start of each game. As each team’s warm-up starts, you’ll have their current performance presented on-screen in greater detail than last year’s stat lines. In terms of menus, broadcast packages and the game’s overall aesthetic it’s all bathed in sleek black and neon green theme throughout. If you’ve played Madden 21 you might hear a few redundant lines from commentators, but overall, it’s a more detailed, high energy broadcast package.
The pregame start up now features quarterback showdowns and not just the starting lineups. All these new additions help to add more realism and an authentic experience to Madden 22.
Authenticity on and off the field
There is more activity on the sidelines with more reactions to the action on the field. The long-awaited player facial scans and hair details have also been implemented bringing more personality to the game. Player animations have also been reworked to more closely mimic real-life movement, especially those of quarterbacks. You’ll notice these right away with players like Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, their throwing motions and small quirks in movement have been accurately captured.
A smarter Madden
The biggest changes this season didn’t just come by way of visuals, EA Tiburon has built a smarter Madden experience. This comes via a new feature called Dynamic Gameday which adds in new factors to give each game its own unique feel. There are three mechanics that combine into generating this new experience: Gameday Atmosphere, Momentum and Star-Driven AI. Let’s delve into how these factors impact the experience on the field.
New Gameday Atmosphere
Each NFL stadium and crowd have their own unique elements that bring a high level of intensity to gameday. In Madden 22 I really felt more of this emotion from the stadium via Gameday Atmosphere. This feature drives the on-field action with new levels of emotion with more crowd animations, player celebrations and sideline reactions. As I made big plays, I found the crowd and my teammates reacted accurately to the action on the field. This added a new level of excitement and immersion I hadn’t felt in a Madden game.
Madden 22 rides the momentum
Gameday Momentum now adds a level of unpredictability to every game. EA has done a great job making momentum swing like it does in real-life games. This is achieved with newly added Momentum Meter and M-Factors (Momentum Factors). As momentum is gained and lost through various on-field actions, it has positive and negative consequences on your game. Performing poorly could result in having the receiver icons removed so it’s more difficult to complete a pass or making a hot route harder to perform.
Home field advantage with M-Factors
This year Madden 22 also features more pronounced homefield advantage thanks to M-Factors. Every NFL stadium in the game has its own factor that when unlocked offers the home team a unique perk. An example of this is when playing a team like the Chicago Bears. The city’s notorious windy conditions will make it harder for the opposition to kick a field goal. Each of the league’s 32 stadiums have their very own unique factor to make the opposition’s lives that much harder.
A better, stat driven experience
EA Tiburon has implemented using real world team stats to affect the play in Madden 22. This is all powered by Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI which converts numbers into CPU player behaviour. Thanks to these new stat lines AI player tendencies like passing aggressiveness, time to throw and scramble frequency dynamically change. Although the stats are present at the start of each game, it’s still hard to discern their impact while playing.
Madden 22’s Franchise Mode overhaul
I am happy to report that one of the biggest changes (and most fan requested) has finally arrived in Madden 22’s updatedFranchise Mode. In Madden 21 fans were upset with the lack of changes to Franchise, but this year EA Tiburon has hit the mark.
For the uninitiated, Franchise Mode lets you run a team as the owner, general manager, or coach. It incorporates all the Dynamic Gameday upgrades and adds its own improvements. The new changes include the ability to build your staffing roster, dynamic play systems, new hub updates and other improvements. Let’s look at what has been added to the Franchise in detail:
RPG-like staffing assignments
With the new franchise staff addition, you can build and customize your own coaching with the RPG talent tree system. This new coaching structure allows you to build a team that fits your playstyle. If you want to build an offensive powerhouse, defensive dynasty, or a balance of the two, it’s completely up to you. You can select your head coach, defensive + offensive coordinators, and player personnel staff. There are currently more than 60 different coaching talents to choose from, with EA promising more will been added in the future.
Weekly Strategy & Dynamic Gameday Integration
You can also rewrite the playbook for your team with the new weekly game strategy system. In the real-life NFL, each week presents coaches and players with unforeseen challenges, the Dynamic Gameday mechanic mimics this in Madden 22. If you know you are facing off against an offensive juggernaut one week, you can now make tweaks to better balance your team. Who, when and where you play matters more than ever, because if they are on a hot streak or have homefield advantage, you’ll need to prepare.
In addition to all these changes EA has promised an in-depth scouting mode is also on the horizon. All of this adds-up to the best Franchise Mode the Madden series has ever seen, let’s hope this trend continues.
Madden NFL 22 offers big changes
Madden NFL 22 is a much better game than its predecessor in many ways. It’s one of the best entries in the franchise with upgrades where they are needed most. The gameplay is much smoother, with key improvements to player animations and tackling. The changes that Dynamic Gameday bring are fresh and fun offering challenges that are more in line with the real game. Despite its flaws, it is the best Madden experience yet, I highly recommend hitting the virtual gridiron this year.
+ Dynamic Gameday makes each game feel unique
+ Momentum Meter and M-Factors make the experience more authentic
+ Gameplay is very responsive with new layers of strategy
+ Big Franchise Mode overhaul
– Animation bugs still crop up
– Little has been done to expand the MUT and Face of the Franchise modes
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF MADDEN NFL 22
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5