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Madden 21 Next-Gen Preview: Overhauled Player Movement, Atmosphere, Playcalling, and More!

Madden 21 Next Gen Preview

With the next-generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S finally here, many have wondered what’s in store for Madden 21. Aside from its December 4 release date, nothing else has really been talked about by EA ahead of launch. Thankfully, that’s come to an end.

SGO took part in a special preview event that gave a deep dive into what Madden 21 on the new consoles will entail. From gameplay to presentation there’s a lot to go over, so let’s get right into it.

Madden 21 Next Gen Presentation

Madden 21 will take full advantage of the power of the new platforms with improved player models, atmosphere, and animations.

Visually, the game continues with the Frostbite engine, much to the surprise of no one. Using deferred lighting and rendering, more lighting is used in more locations to help showcase both player models and stadiums. For players specifically, the lighting allows for more realistic shadows, better skin texture, and more detailed uniforms.

Even the body types have been improved with players built to look more like they should on the field. From ripped body types to soft and flabby, the hardware improves allow more types to be utilized in game.

Moving to environments, stadiums are more detailed than ever on the new platforms. Starting with the sideline, defensive players will be shown on the sideline while your offense is on the field, and vice-versa. There will even be more reaction and interaction between players while on the sidelines. In the stands you can now see how the look of the stadium changes throughout the day whether it be in the early afternoon or under the lights.

Weather has also seen a major upgrade with the generation leap. Rain spots appear on jerseys of players throughout a game as it progresses depending on the strength of the rain. For those who like the snow, Madden 21 will feature accumulation during a game, though it only piles up on the outskirts of the field.

Unfortunately as well, the weather changes throughout a game won’t directly impact gameplay just yet.

“That’s something we’re going to target long term,” Executive producer Seann Graddy said. “[Right now], it’s really more of a big visual upgrade in this year’s product.”

From an audio standpoint, the game features “location-based audio”. Each camera angle will have audio come in relative to the location of that camera. No longer will the same audio be heard no matter the angle.

Playcalling Moves Forward

The game’s playcalling has been tweaked with a new playcalling experience along with some added features.

You’ll now have the ability to call plays by player, making it easier to get the ball into the hands of the best players on field. If you also have specific plays you like to call in different moments, the option to save favorite plays in the playcall screen has been added. Players will even be able to see X-Factors and game goals right from the newly designed playcall screen.

It’s a streamlined experience designed to help new players get comfortable while still being deep enough for the most experienced Madden veteran.


Madden 21 Next Gen Gameplay

On the gameplay side of things, EA is focused on three specific areas to improve the action on the field for players.

Starting with secondary animation details. Players now have “muscle jiggle” along with secondary animations to deliver more lifelike movement. Secondly, Cloth-Tech animations will see the jerseys move realistically as the player body moves on the field.

The best new feature?

The biggest element for gameplay, according to EA, is the addition of NFL Next-Gen Stats Player Movement. Animations in Madden 21 Next-Gen are driven through real-world data to match how a player actually moves on the field.

It was hyped so much during the preview event that Graddy could barely contain his excitement introducing the segment dedicated to the new system.

“In anticipation of the Gen 5 console launch, we’ve been working on integrating this data into Madden with the primary goal of delivering a gameplay experience that feels as close to authentic NFL football as possible,” Producer Clint Oldenburg said.

For those unaware, NFL Next-Gen Stats is real-world tracking of players in the league that’s done through the shoulder pads. The data brought into the game will impact all 22 players on the field during each play. From blocking to defensive back coverage to route running, EA Sports claims that the next-gen stats will see players behave in ways never before seen.

To help utilize the data, thousands of new animations were captured based on a variety of body types to help bring more fluid motion.

Realistic Route Running

With route running, the elite players will separate themselves from the pack more than they have up to this point. Players like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and more move more along the lines of the way you see on Sundays.

During the presentation, a route run by Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods was shown from Super Bowl 53. In the game, player routes no longer appear jagged with a stop-and-start feel. Instead, movement builds from the start to the change of direction and beyond with motion on the field being more rounded.

Another example shown was using the aforementioned Adams. On the current gen, the route running is robotic with everything more based on straight lines and harsh angles. In next-gen Madden 21, Adams’ route saw him build to his top speed, make a fluid cut, and then reaccelerate to get to the ball.

Ball Carrying Improvements

It’s not just route running that sees an improvement in fluidity thanks to the NFL Next-Gen Stats, either. Ball carriers also move much smoother than ever thanks to the animation improvements.

Acceleration rate, turn rate and radius and overall speed are all powered by the next-gen stats data. Players now lean their body with moment in the direction they are moving rather that a quick jolt.

Defense Joins the Next-Gen Party

It’s not just the offense that gets to take advantage of the new data-driven motion and animations. Defenders in coverage will now move more naturally when both backpedalling and strafing. This will allow them to both react and close on plays more realistically

Tackling has also been changed to look more visually authentic, taking a player’s size and position into effect more often. A new anticipation and prediction technology known as “Rally” allows tackles to be queued up prior to contact allowing for more tackle variety. EA also claims that the “Rally” prediction model will make it easier for players to get into proper positioning for a tackle attempt.

Other Gameplay Additions

On top of what was already mentioned, Madden 21 next gen will have a number of other improvements.

With the offensive side of the ball, NFL Next Gen Stats data will help with QB movement in and out of the pocket, pass leading, the general run game, and player head tracking. On defense, players will notice changes to AI pursuit, gang tackles, tackling momentum, and pass rush timing.

All in all, the team at EA Sports firmly believes that the new player movement improvements will lead to a more organic and realistic feel on the field. From animation entry and exits to the overall pace, transitions will be smoother.

Madden 21 Next Gen Odds & Ends

  • Madden 21 will take advantage of SSDs to deliver faster load times than ever, allowing players to jump into games quicker.
  • Controller Haptics will take advantage of the newly designed DualSense controller on PS5. This allows players to better sense an oncoming blitz, get a true feeling behind the hitstick, and feel the overall rhythm of the game.
  • Madden 21 will support the DualSense’s adaptive triggers
  • Next Gen Stats will power a new replay feature that uses 15 specific data points to trigger dynamic highlights. You’ll see elements such as time to throw, completed air distance, and more.
  • All modes and features from Current-Gen Madden 21 will be available in Next-Gen Madden 21
  • There’s no cross-gen play with Madden 21, meaning PS5 can’t play PS4 players and Xbox Series X|S can’t play Xbox One. That said, if you have a current version of Madden 21 on disc and you put it in the next-gen system, it will treat it as a current-gen game, allowing you to play with friends on a PS4 or Xbox One.
  • Work has been done to improve lead blocking logic to increase awareness, turn rates, and more.
  • There is no play designer on next-gen. It’s something EA is looking into working on, but unclear on where it fits into the current road map.
  • All Franchise Mode patches for Madden 21 will be on both Gen 4 and Gen 5 versions of the game.
  • Crowd character resolution and quality have been improved to improve the “living world” experience.
  • In stadiums with walls that support, players will be able to interact with the crowd during touchdown celebrations.
  • Injuries were not changed for Madden 21 on next-gen, but is part of the current roadmap for future games.

What do you think of the next-gen improvements coming to Madden 21? Let us know in the comment section below, and stick with Sports Gamers Online for the latest on Madden 21.

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