EA Sports has come under fire as of late when the franchise reveal for Madden NFL 21 was a major disappointment. Will the rest of this year’s package make up for a lackluster franchise showing or will be a skip year for football fans? Let’s take a look at the top things you need to know about Madden NFL 21 before you buy it.

#1  The Yard

madden-21-the-yard-3At #1 we start at the biggest additional to Madden 21:  The Yard.  This is the newest way to experience backyard football in Madden NFL. The Yard brings an arcade-style 6 on 6 gameplay that fans have been requesting. Built to bring backyard fun to Madden – where you can pick up a ball, be anyone, line up anywhere, and play both sides of the ball.

Players can create and customize their Avatar head to toe with colored gear and equipment that isn’t found in other modes. This bizarre limitation is unfortunate. Players have been asking for mouthguards in Madden for years, and while they’re in The Yard they can’t be equipped anywhere else.

In The Yard, you can play solo or team up with friends to take on the CPU or other players (1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 multiplayer).  It’s fast fun and basically a teamplay version of superstar KO on steroids.

#2 New Gameplay Additions

madden-21-pass-rush-OL-meterThis year includes the Skill Stick which allows you to link together new ball carrier moves like the dead-leg and the jurdle (sideways hurdle). It’s honestly not considerably different from before but does add more options in the running game (which has been toned down considerably). New pass rush mechanics give a big boost to usering the defensive line, allowing you to try different pass rush moves in real-time and find something that gets you to the QB. On the other side, offensive lineman will build resistance to repeated moves.  Overall the pass rush feels toned down compared to madden 20, perhaps due to this focus on user pass rush.

#3 Face of the Franchise:  Rise to Fame

madden-21-face-of-the-franchise-ftr_1l1a43y2s5kow1wj5aysh8n9o8This year’s new playable career campaign mode allows you to create yourself as a player and shape your career from High School all the way to the NFL Hall of Fame. Face of the Franchise evolves to allow you to play as a quarterback, wide receiver, or running back.  You’ll have experiences at every level: high school, college, NFL Draft and Combine, in the League, and beyond in the all-new playable documentary career campaign. The story mode falls short of the bar set by Longshot but gives new franchise players an introduction to the mode.

#4 NCAA Football Returns

m21-ncaa-college-faceofranchiseFootball fans can get a small taste of what they have been missing as College Football returns in Face of the Franchise. Madden expanded the college football experience with two seasons of college football and two chances to win the College Football Playoff Championship.  You can play for one of 10 colleges including Michigan State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Clemson, Oregon, Miami, LSU, Texas, USC, and Florida. Unfortunately, college games are stuck on the Rookie playing level which doesn’t prove much of a challenge.

#5 NFL Combine Returns to Madden

madden-21-combineThe combine makes a short appearance in Face of the Franchise mode as you run a 40-yard dash to impress scouts. Although the time doesn’t correlate as expected to your player’s speed rating. How well you perform the drills on the field and on the podium play a part in where you are drafted. Sadly, it’s such a short and unsatisfying experience it’s almost like it was included for a back of the box bullet point.

#6 X-Factor & Superstar Abilities

madden-21-x15Madden 21 brings 50 new abilities designed to separate the stars of the game from their counterparts. Superstar X-Factor abilities are reserved for only the most elite players in the league. Many of the improvements to existing abilities bring balanced gameplay, while new abilities enhance passing, pass-rush, ball-carrier moves, and new gameplay mechanics like reaching for a first down or touchdown.

#7 Madden Ultimate Team (MUT)

Madden-21-Ultimate-Team-3The longtime star and cash cow of the Madden series brings a brand-new season of fresh Ultimate Team content and competitive team building fueled by the unsuspecting wallets of parents. Team play remains locked behind MUT Squads but can you can still test your skills in H2H Seasons and MUT Draft. One of the biggest additions to the mode is Ability Caps, which adds a new layer to team building allowing you to customize how you want your team to perform on the field.

#8 Superstar KO

madden21-superstarkoDue to the focus on its cousin, The Yard, not much is added to this mode. Superstar KO is a co-op eliminator mode introduced after the launch of Madden 20. It features 5-minute games with unique stadiums and commentary, played with football legends and celebrities like DJ Khaled and Snoop Dogg. Expect new celebrity additions and events for this mode post-launch.

#9 Next-Gen Upgrade

madden21-next-gen-bradyPlayers who purchase Madden NFL 21 for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will be able to upgrade their copy once they have the corresponding next-generation console (PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5, or Xbox One to Xbox Series X) at no extra cost up until the launch of Madden NFL 22. Assuming that physical versions will allow for future digital downloads. This just may be the one savior that makes madden 21 worth it.

#10 Franchise Mode

madden21-franchise-copy-pasteLast and definitely least, Franchise mode is renamed “Classic Franchise” and features an expanded Wild Card Playoff round to match the real-life NFL and updates to rookie contracts to better match the actual draft. Yep, that’s it. No there is nothing else to add here. Seriously, that’s it. But after the #FixMaddenFranchise uproar they have promised post-launch additions of Commissioner Tools, career stats, new playoff presentation, and a host of fixes and improvements players have been asking about for years.  We’ll be watching to see how they follow-through on these promised improvements.

Madden 21 will see a full release on August 28 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. For the latest updates on Madden 21, stay tuned in here at SGO.

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