With the start of the NFL season, Electronic Arts annually launches a new American football offshoot under the label EA Sports - this year is no exception: the series is entering a new round with Madden NFL 22. The same question then arises for fans: Expensive roster update or useful innovations? First of all: Madden NFL 22 offers - as is not uncommon in recent years - both. It's expensive fun, but fun. Die-hard fans of the series in particular are happy about successful detail improvements. Anyone who expects the big, wide throw with innovations could, however, be disappointed. 


EA Sports has been in hot water for a number of years with the Madden NFL franchise. The reason for this is simple: Often only small things are improved, for an innovative restart of the series the developers were probably not brave enough. That's actually a big risk, because overall Madden NFL works well, is fun, and often offers useful tweaking. This year too: Madden NFL 22 is another small step on the way to the perfect American football simulation, but struggles with some technical shortcomings - especially with the AI. The developers had already made improvements in time for the start of the NFL season - the start of the season means the "real" sales start for Madden NFL every year, even though the game has already been available in stores for a few weeks at this point. Only with the entry into the season do fans outside of the hardcore bubble also take notice of the title. Madden NFL 21 convinced us in the test. It was the "worst best game of the series," was our verdict - Madden NFL 22 ups the ante: It's even worse, but it's also better. 

Madden NFL 22: There Are Improvements

To say that the developers are simply managing the Madden series and are no longer actively working on it doesn't do justice to the mission. Madden NFL 22 is also a further development of the good basic concept that can be felt in many respects. The "Momentum" provides an even more authentic gameplay because it can influence the "mood" and the course of a game: depending on the events, this leads to new challenges because bonuses and penalties ensure that teams are actually affected noticeably. The NFL stars also benefit and appear more realistically on the virtual lawn - the football millionaires shine with their special, unique moves. And: The Franchise mode has received an extensive update, but now it is more similar to the Face of the Franchise mode. So a lot has happened with the new edition, even if the developers at EA Tiburon have by no means taken every point of criticism from the fans to heart.

Ultimately, however, the momentum feature seems to be the biggest change in play in Madden NFL 22: The influences on the game are clear, but not always understandable and sometimes obviously not properly balanced. Some factors have a bigger impact than others, which is generally a good thing - it just seems like the developers overdone it a bit in some places. This makes Madden NFL 22 a touch more arcade-heavy in places. In the end, however, this is nagging at a high level, because the flow of the game benefits from the new idea. The same applies to artificial intelligence: one still experiences questionable scenes when opposing players perform some of their puzzling maneuvers or choose tactics that even the New York Jets would not trust. But: Despite its quirks, the Madden AI is one of the best on the market - it is genre dominance anyway. Anyone who knows and loves Madden will do the same in NFL 22. The fun of the game comes up immediately. 

There are always exciting moments on the field. Source: EA

There are always exciting moments on the field. Source: EA

EA Tiburon also lent a hand at the presentation and put a lot of effort into it: What the sports game may otherwise lack in innovations, the developers make up for with significantly better optics and acoustics.

Great look and atmosphere

The graphics are a feast for the eyes, especially on the new Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X | S power consoles: smoothly polished animations and realistic movements, lots of details on and next to the playing field and a soundscape based on a Dolby Atmos system and the right boxing system. Setup ensures that you feel right in the middle of it all, Madden NFL 22 also make a stadium experience - at least you are very close to the live experience. 

Franchise has also been redesigned to give players more control over what is happening. For a long time, this mode in particular was more of an appendage: Always there, but never really central. Now the game mode in Madden NFL 22 has finally been turned with a little more love and some really useful functions have been implemented. Players have more control over the staff and can analyze the strategies weekly - but the latter is less complex than you might think. The choice is limited, quite limited. It is not uncommon for the differences to be marginal. The conversations with the media - as superficial or sometimes silly as that may seem - are an indication of further future adjustments. It is noticeable that all the planning has a longer-term effect, which the mode benefits as a quality feature. 

The gameplay is outstanding again - Madden NFL 22 is terrific from a purely playful perspective. Source: EA

The gameplay is outstanding again - Madden NFL 22 is terrific from a purely playful perspective. Source: EA

After all: EA Tiburon is on the right track with the adapted system. Madden NFL 22 is also not a pure next-gen development, but a kind of hybrid. One can only speculate at the moment, but it can be assumed that the next offshoot of the Madden series will originally be developed for high-performance hardware, exclusively. Only then will it be shown whether Madden NFL 22 was able to lay the foundation stone as an intermediate step towards next-gen. This is exactly how the game feels - despite adjustments for the Xbox Series and Playstation 5: It is a further development with the handbrake on. 

Franchise twins? 

Franchise 2.0 is the Face of the Franchise mode: as a college player, you lead the story protagonist to success and fame. You face all the adversities that budding NFL stars have to face. Tragically, Franchise mode and Face of the Franchise play immensely alike. There is a lot of overlap in gameplay. If it weren't for the story, which is even interesting in parts, the face game mode could have been left out. What has a positive effect on both modes is the synergy with the "Momentum". This gives the matches even more excitement, makes them more dramatic and rounded. But the same applies here: Criticizing the two game modes is complaining at a high level. Both modes are fun and playable on their own, they just aren't different enough. 

Movements and animations of the players convince with realism. Source: EA

Movements and animations of the players convince with realism. Source: EA

The other modes are far more different: The Yard as a backyard football equivalent to "FIFA Volta" has even undergone a revision. With story. With several chapters. Various locations and "boss fights" against NFL greats. That's cool, but playfully known. Despite this, The Yard in particular is one of the best innovations for the series ever. That doesn't change with Madden NFL 22 either, on the contrary. Otherwise there is what fans know and expect: Championships, for example, or the now obligatory Ultimate Team mode, as a motivating extension. 

What has not been completely successful - and you have to chalk it up to EA Tiburon - is the technical side related to errors: Again and again you come across bugs and minor glitches that shouldn't have happened. Quality management slept or was perhaps too sure of what it was doing. The character models sometimes seem out of place, there are some localization errors, and crashes also occur, albeit rarely. Many of them sometimes interrupt the flow of the game or make you smile. Fortunately, all bugs should be fixed with patches and updates, EA Tiburon had already started with them. Does that affect the rating? Yes it does. However, it doesn't do that to a dramatic extent.

Particularly tragic is the fact that you noticed Madden NFL 22 that it wants to be a consistent further development - but that does exactly that not completely convincing. The new offshoot is not a step backwards either: Despite minor quirks, the adjustments are positive. The gameplay remains almost unchanged, but the Madden series has again increased the details with Madden NFL 22. It's better than the previous one. All that remains is the unsatisfactory feeling that EA Tiburon could have done more.

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: 2021
Platforms (Test system): PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Language: German
Costs: from 59,99 euros 

 

Summary

Madden NFL 22 is again a consistent further development, but one in which the development should have been even more careful at the quality level. The new offshoot from the American football series is fun, entertaining, provides a good atmosphere, creates emotions - in short: does everything to ensure that gaming at home becomes the most realistic NFL experience possible. Bugs and mistakes thwart this actually grandiose atmosphere. This doesn't make Madden NFL 22 unplayable, but it will take a few more months to mature. Then, however, this year's offshoot will raise the bar one centimeter again.

The many game modes and tasks provide long-term motivation. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to tackle both franchise game modes in the end given the clear gameplay similarity. Madden NFL 22, on the other hand, scores where sports games need to score: in gameplay. That's outstanding again, again a tad better than last year - and thanks to the "Momentum" concept, it's also sensibly adjusted.

Anyone who certifies the current part of the series to be an expensive roster update has probably not played Madden NFL 22 extensively enough. Many new approaches can be identified, which EA Tiburon will probably expand over the next few years. That's bad for those who already wanted this for the 22 part, but good for the brand itself. The developers are sending a message: We are still a long way from reaching the end. 


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Last updated on 26.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API