Madden NFL 23 is released annually just before the official start of the football season, which is a constant for fans. The numbering behind the game title once again indicates that the Electronic Arts series of games can look back on a long history – which is bittersweet this year, because with the “Coach” the franchise loses its namesake.  

Although nothing has changed directly for the game series with the death of John Madden, it has nevertheless affected the history of the sports game: After all, the “coach” leaves a legacy in relation to Madden NFL. The fact that Electronic Arts is dedicating its own version of the game to the legend is therefore an honor for a man who saw the game simulation as an equivalent to football on the lawn right from the start. Fan expectations for Madden NFL 23 seemed immense. If you look back at the past entries in the sports game series, it should have been clear that you shouldn't hope for a complete makeover. 

EA Tiburon is also opting for a cross-platform version this year: Madden NFL 23 will be released for PC and the Sony and Microsoft last-gen consoles as well as current-gen computing monsters. So it was clear early on: You will have to be prepared for restrictions. And that's how it finally happened. Madden NFL 23 is the best part of the past few years, but overall it's only improved in the details. The big conversion – and one that many fans are hoping for – will not happen, at least for this year. Still, with Madden NFL 23, Electronic Arts and EA Tiburon are on the right track. 

Madden NFL 23: Best version in years

Tom Brady with the Buccaneers, no "Big Ben" at Pittsburgh, Aaron Rodgers nearing retirement - a lot is changing in the football segment. Madden NFL 23, with its standard annual appearance, is almost a kind of welcome constant. This has been both a curse and a blessing for the sports game series for years - the quality is often at a good level, but you will look in vain for innovations. The 2022 version is no exception. However, Electronic Arts is also in a real luxury situation: the publisher is the only one who is even allowed to publish NFL football video games. Perhaps the competition is missing, which is able to drive the developers to top performances in the last few yards.

Madden NFL 23 Madden Legacy

John Madden isn't just the cover face of Madden NFL 23 - his legacy is also being approached in a playful way this year. Image: EA/EA Tiburon

Overall, Madden NFL 23 does a good job. You're trying to bring the series back to its origins in a way. To see John Madden on the cover of the game for over 20 years, a legacy game serves as a history lesson for those who have only just jumped on the NFL hype. Names from Favre to Moss are included, even the old cauldron of the Oakland Raiders can be found in the game. Madden NFL 23 sees itself, at least in part, as a tribute to John Madden's video game life's work, which is undoubtedly one thing: according to legend, it was then-EA founder Trip Hawkins who approached the coach to give a football game series a popular stamp to rent. Madden had one condition: the game had to reflect real football. 

As much as one can criticize the individual parts of Madden NFL over the years, one thing the franchise has always managed to do: authentically simulate NFL football on a gaming machine. This year's edition of the game is the best of recent years - yes, Madden NFL 23 also leaves a lot unchanged, does not tackle necessary construction sites, but optimizes the detail level more consistently than ever before. It's not all obvious though, because once you hold the controller in your hands, the game feels like it always has.

Buttery smooth animations

Trial Madden NFL 23

When it comes to taking control of the field, Madden NFL 23 shines. Picture: Spielpunkt

If you take a closer look, the action on the field has changed significantly: the animations are better overall, the player movements are softer and more authentic, the defense AI acts more cleverly and here and there there are some real innovations, such as additional touchdown optics or an expanded color palette. Madden NFL 23 has undergone some optimizations, but is basically still the same basic structure as in recent years. Therein lies the biggest point of criticism. In terms of graphics, hardly anything has changed - but the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X offer everything the developers need to turn a beautiful sports game into a visually stunning one. The presentation even hungers for it: there is hardly any sports game that gives you that live TV feeling like Madden NFL – graphically you would have to support it much more intensively.

The stagnation of the Madden NFL series is enough to criticize, as other sports sims push obvious improvements more clearly. The football video game series is thus quietly and secretly ousted from the segment of top simulations. Publisher Electronic Arts and the developers at EA Tiburon have to react, they may have been planning it for a long time. Because: Despite all the visible points of criticism, Madden NFL 23 shows that you are on the right track.

Review Madden NFL 23

The presentation of what's happening in the stadiums is significantly better than the trappings of Madden NFL 23. Image: Spielpunkt

The new edition of the game feels at least significantly different than the previous titles. This is mainly due to the many small changes: the control over the players is more present, not least because of the optimized animations. You have a lot more control over the ball, especially in those situations that involve throwing into tiny passing windows. Fans can feel this on the virtual lawn in the red zone or at the edge of the field – where there is little space for tricky maneuvers, Madden NFL 23 really thrives. You have more chances to free yourself from distressing situations. 

At the same time, the defensive acts more intelligently and allows less. Makes the quarterback's run out of his pocket a dangerous play. Simply acting as you are used to from the predecessors no longer works or rarely works. It's a clear sign that a lot has changed in Madden NFL 23, although it's hardly noticeable. There are bugs and glitches, but they have become fewer than in previous years' versions. The start of the new season is better for the 23 edition.

Madden is Madden

In the end, Madden NFL 23 is also a Madden part: Ultimate Team and the Face of the Franchise mode form the core of the football simulation. Basically, there is little reason to change anything on a profound level. What is missing are new formats. "The Yard" was a bold idea, but not a big hit. It just needs fresh ideas for the next edition of the game. Above all, Madden NFL deserves a revision of the career mode: here you lag dramatically behind comparable game modes from other sports games. MLB, NBA 2K, even Fifa do it way better. So everything bad? no There is a good basis for further development. And that's exactly what gives hope and anticipation for Madden NFL 24. The developers seem to have some kind of vision for the series - maybe you just don't dare to go public with it yet.

Madden NFL 23 Review

Zac Taylor's crippled hand shows there's still room for visual improvement Image: Spielpunkt

Despite its quirks, Madden NFL 23 is a lot of fun and will keep football fans entertained for months to come with live data. What is certain is that EA Tiburon will – as with Madden NFL 22 before it – make many adjustments over the course of the real season that will make the game even better than the current status quo. At the end of the day, as a Madden NFL fan, you always have to make small cuts. The big simulation of a comprehensive league is the motivating core of the game series - as fans of the first hour you will understand that even more. There are points of criticism, but the fact is: Madden NFL wasn't really bad even in its weakest moments. More dynamism off the pitch; a bit more story where needed; more squad management options but less administration; a bit more arcade for the moments between the serious game and a good dose of next-gen graphics could turn Madden NFL into a top sports simulation without much effort. It's all there, you just have to call it up. 

If the game series has always been able to do something and shows it again this year: Madden NFL is pure sports simulation as soon as the kickoff has taken place. The biggest points of criticism can be found apart from that.  

One can accuse the series of not having fully dared to make the leap to the new current gen. Undoubtedly this has to happen, but there are significant differences between the versions for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series as well as the variants for the last-gen consoles and PC. Updates for the passing game and running game are obvious, improvements in artificial intelligence follow and on the Xbox Series X you can even play at 120 FPS. EA Tiburon has optimized, not just used Madden NFL 22 as a base to copy. It's annoying that the PC version of all things can't keep up with the power consoles, but apparently EA is already aware of the situation.

Review Madden NFL 23 EA

Above all, the flow of the game is convincing - once you have mastered all the moves, there is a lot of fun to be had. Picture: Spielpunkt

In any case, "Field Sense" is an excellent optimization that fits seamlessly into the ranks of the successful features of the now more than ten-year-old "Game Flow" and the Ignite engine from 2013. So the motto for Madden NFL 23 is: everything and everyone on the field is involved in the gameplay. In the end, however, it is not the big hit, but one of many adjustment screws. You don't really notice it, because in the sometimes hectic gameplay you are - fortunately - busy with other things.

The fun ensues because player control is better than ever. Moves in tight spaces, defensive maneuvers, surprising tactical changes, sophisticated running game - Madden NFL 23 allows a lot to mislead the opponent. Something is noticeable in the otherwise stagnant Face of the Franchise mode: this time, as a young player, you actually act within the framework of a real beginner's setting. You're not a college star and you're going through a set drama.

Infobox

Number of players: single player, multiplayer
Age: USK from 0
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high
Genre: sports game
Sub-genre: American football simulation

Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Platforms (Test system): PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Language: German
Costs: from 59,99 euros 

Summary

Madden NFL 23 isn't the often-requested restart of the series, but it's a game that's once again a tad better than its predecessor. The adjustments are not so obvious this year: you can feel that some things have improved, but sometimes you can't say exactly what that is. 

As always, Madden NFL 23 shines on the virtual pitch once the action kicks off. One reason: Madden NFL is still fun limited to a current season of play. NFL football in real life, on the other hand, is a year-round spectacle, even if it is not as present in the German media as it was with the start of the season. Essentially, Electronic Arts is only depicting a part of what football means with the game. A lot of potential remains or is atrophied - this is particularly noticeable in the core mode Face of the Franchise, which is good as soon as it comes to sporting action, but only reaches mediocre when it comes to simulating real football events on the screen turns. So once again it's just lame social media gimmicks and some trash talk as a sidekick to somehow get from pitch action to pitch action. Fresh ideas are urgently needed here – EA Tiburon has enough role models on the game market. 

Madden is Madden - with all weaknesses and strengths. As trivial as the game can feel at times, the moments are terrific when you take control of the team and actually direct the action. All of this requires the player to get used to it: Madden NFL 23 only becomes really good when you have mastered the repertoire of moves and can move the sticks with good timing to call up your performance. Then you can implement brilliant tactics on the field, surprise opponents, trick with moves and ultimately celebrate small and large successes over the four quarters - from yard gains to touchdowns. 

All this again looks good, but rarely outstanding. Here, too, the developers have room for improvement. Madden NFL 23 isn't reinventing the series, but no one really expected it either. On the other hand, what the game is able to implement excellently is the adaptation of the individual class of the individual stars. It makes a difference whether you stick Aaron Rodgers with the pass machine or whether you can turn supposedly hopeless situations with a mobile quarterback like Patrick Mahomes. It often turns out that the developers are on the right track with their ideas for an authentic sports game. They just haven't reached the goal yet.

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Last updated on 1.12.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API