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“Madden NFL 22,” the latest entry in EA’s series of football games, is now available worldwide on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, PC, and Google’s Stadia. As usual, the launch of “Madden” coincides with the start of the NFL season; Super Bowl LV MVP Tom Brady and Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes are this year’s cover stars.
EA is the NFL’s exclusive partner for football simulation games, a deal that began in 2005 and will continue through at least 2026. Football fans have driven “Madden” to the top of the annual sales charts for more than two decades, with each year’s new release offering updated rosters and improved features to bring the game closer to the real sport.
However, EA’s annual release schedule for “Madden” has come under increased scrutiny as more games adopt live online services to support and monetize the same title for years. While “Madden” was one of the first games to adopt weekly updates for online play, the yearly launch cycle means major issues are often left unaddressed until the next release.
“Madden NFL 22” brings meaningful improvements to the series but, even though I appreciate these new features, some areas show signs of neglect. “Madden” offers a lot of variety to satisfy football fans, but as a gamer who has followed the series from Genesis, it feels like the current version of “Madden” lacks the focus to grow beyond its aging formula.
Below, we’ve detailed some of the biggest quality of life changes in “Madden NFL 22,” highlighting why the game is still worth buying for football fans. That said, I think competition from another football simulation game could help motivate “Madden” to make more aggressive changes.
Last year’s “Madden” was released before the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, so “Madden NFL 22” represents a full leap to next-gen consoles, and it doesn’t disappoint.
In-game player models, animations, and the overall presentation have been noticeably improved. The solid state drives used in next-gen consoles lead to better loading times across the board, making things like highlight videos appear faster between plays.
Many of the game’s next-gen features are designed to make the on-field gameplay feel more impactful, an experience EA calls Dynamic Gameday. Each NFL team now has a special home field advantage that will impact gameplay; the crowd will react as either team builds momentum, and the players and coaches on the field will respond in turn.
These features work well with the game’s returning Superstar X-factor feature, which emphasizes the strengths of star players on the field. For gamers who are less familiar with the NFL, Dynamic Gameday and X-factor demonstrate what makes each team special, and the differences in matchups are immediately felt.
“Madden” has separated its gameplay into three main categories: simulation, arcade, and competitive. While the core controls and presentation don’t change between the three settings, they still greatly impact how “Madden” feels to play, and demonstrate the wide range of players the series wants to cater to.
Simulation seeks to bring the game as close to the real sport as possible, with EA going so far as to incorporate real player data and metrics — a feature “Madden” calls Next-Gen Stats.
Competitive “Madden” players expect the gameplay to remain consistent from year to year and are the game’s most active critics, even as they help build up the “Madden” esports community.
The arcade mode is simply designed to let casual players pick up the game and play without worrying about the fine details of football.
Satisfying these three diverging paths of authenticity, competition, and just plain fun is a difficult balancing act. I feel that EA would be better served by focusing on one or two styles of gameplay rather than having three separate experiences that don’t see much growth year to year.
In addition to the three main styles, players can split their time between an ever-growing variety of modes in “Madden NFL 22.” This year’s game allows you to create and develop a defensive player for the first time in the Face of the Franchise campaign mode. The Yard, a six-on-six football mode introduced last year, allows players to take on specific challenges with a friend, and progression extends to Face of the Franchise mode.
Classic modes like Franchise and Career have also gotten long-requested improvements with new cut scenes and better team management features. The popular Ultimate Team mode seems largely unchanged, but it does make use of Next-Gen Stats and Dynamic Gameday features.
We didn’t get a chance to play the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions of “Madden NFL 22” before launch, but they did receive some quality of life improvements. Unfortunately, impactful features like Dynamic Gameplay and Next-Gen Stats aren’t present on older consoles, so the game will likely feel even more similar to “Madden NFL 21.”
While next-gen features captured my interest in “Madden NFL 22,” it’s hard to recommend buying the game in its current state on PS4 or Xbox One, unless you’re already a dedicated player who loves to play online. If you want the option to upgrade a PS4 or Xbox One version to its next-gen version later on, you’ll have to buy the more expensive Dynasty or MVP edition of “Madden NFL 22.”
The idea that “Madden” has worn out its bestselling formula is not new, and it won’t stop millions of gamers from buying and enjoying “Madden NFL 22” the same way they have in the past. After all, EA has exclusive rights from the NFL.
But with the franchise entering yet another generation of consoles, “Madden” has resisted making drastic changes that would refresh the experience entirely. With no competitor to challenge “Madden” as the top football game, there’s little incentive for EA to change course.
That said, “Madden NFL 22” does offer a wide variety of gameplay that will satisfy sports fans of all types, and the improvements on next-gen consoles make it a worthwhile upgrade from “Madden NFL 21.”
“Madden NFL 22” launched with three versions: an MVP Edition for $100, a Dynasty Edition for $120, and the standard edition, which costs $70 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, and $60 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
If you want to upgrade your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One copy of “Madden NFL 22” at a later date, you’ll need to buy the $100 MVP edition, which will let you access the game on next-gen consoles with dual entitlement.
The MVP Edition comes with 40 franchise staff points, extra player progression points in The Yard and Face of the Franchise, a Tom Brady gear capsule, 11 team fantasy card packs, and your choice of Brady or Patrick Mahomes elite item for Ultimate Team mode.
The $120 Dynasty Edition comes with all the MVP bonuses but offers a total of 100 franchise staff points, 22 fantasy team packs, and your choice of an NFL star for ultimate team mode.
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