Madden 22 is set to arrive in about a month and a half with the first year where it will be simultaneously be releasing on both the now current generation consoles and the last generation consoles. With these new platforms bring new possibilities for Madden 22, including the brand new Dynamic Gameday features. Ahead of the game’s release, EA Sports held a closed Community Playtest for Madden 22 and we got a chance to try out the game with its new and refined features.
There are a number of new features to be found in Madden 22, but Dynamic Gameday is definitely the most involved across all of the game’s modes. As a result, that’s what we decided to try out first through the game’s Play Now feature. What was neat here was that the Community Playtest allowed us to pick any teams we wanted to use here in Play Now, rather than sticking us exclusively with the previous Super Bowl matchup like in many past betas. This really helped to get a glimpse at all that Dynamic Gameday has to offer with the varying teams and their home stadiums.
The next-gen exclusive Dynamic Gameday is made up of three parts, Gameday Atmosphere, Gameday Momentum, and Next Gen Stats Star-Driven AI. Gameday Atmosphere could be seen immediately with the stadiums in the game that are made to look better than ever, though we did not get a deep dive into the different stadiums during this playtest unfortunately.
As far as the Gameday Momentum, that is seen very quickly in the game via the meter found right by the score at the top of the screen. This is similar to what we had in the past with NCAA Football 14, but here it is much more involved with different tiers. When one team does something good, such as scoring a touchdown or getting a big sack, the meter moves in their direction. That can mean that the home field team gets one of three special perks or the visiting team can take some of that momentum away and make them lose said perks. I did think it was a bit annoying that you could gain access to the top tier perk and then one bad play wipes it away immediately. Considering the time it takes to build to that meter, it feels like they could require a few bad plays to happen to make it go away instead. While there are are a number of shared perks across teams, there are plenty of exclusive ones too that will make the whole experience all the better. It did still feel like it was a little hard to tell what would cause the meter to move certain amounts specifically, but that’s something that players will probably figure out the more they play.
Madden 22’s new Next Gen Stats Star-Driven AI was also good to see in action, with the players seeming to react more naturally than before. Unfortunately the new rookies in the league that were just drafted did not have accurate ratings, so we could not really see them in action too much, but that’s where it will be very interesting to see how Madden 22 handles the new players with the AI. This was also seen with the game planning at the start of the game, where you can choose what offensive and defensive strategy you want to employ in the game. This also included the ability to change the up during half time adjustments as well, which was very useful at helping to pick out plays for a specific game plan.
The development team behind Madden 22 has also made a point to make the physics engine feel even more realistic when it comes to player weights and height related to momentum on the field. The goal here is to make it seem more true to life based on how a smaller or larger player would be tackled versus the size of the player that is tackling them. You could definitely tell there were some improvements here from what we got to play, though that is something that will definitely more visible the more you play as well compared to a smaller sample size.
While not a brand new feature outright, Madden 22 has finally brought the much needed revamps to Franchise mode that people have been asking for. This includes not just a new interface that is much easier to navigate, but also how it works as a whole. Staff management and the related skill tree for each of the staff positions is a major new inclusion here, which is something that seems pretty basic, yet should pay great dividends long term in Franchise.
The major downside of Franchise in the Community Playtest was that there were a lot of bugs and just things being unfinished, but that is something that the development team let us know before hand. This was basically just a glimpse at what Franchise is going to offer more than letting us try to run our own full Franchise during the playtest. It would be assumed that all of this will be fixed and ready for the launch of the game in August, especially with us having to wait until September for the scouting update.
Considering these were the major new features or upgrades in Madden 22, this is where we spent the majority of our time with the Community Playtest. A few of the other modes were also available like Ultimate Team and The Yard, but we didn’t focus on them anywhere near as much. It definitely does look like the development team is going to bring us an exciting entry this year and we are excited to see what more it has to offer.
Madden 22 releases for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia on August 20.