Every year the community gathers to see if there are any improvements to the long-running Madden franchise. It seems like the series has been in a slump for the past ten entries, and while they haven’t necessarily been “bad” per se, they didn’t contain the magic that the Madden franchise was known for back in the day. I have had high hopes for Madden 24 as EA promised an array of new features, even more so than before, and as I played through each Mode, the feel of the game was almost enough for me to become the Madden fan I used to be.
EA promises changes to the new Madden game every year, as they should, and you can tell the developer tried its hardest with the latest features and technology implemented into the gameplay of Madden 24. With a rebuilt skeleton system, through the new Sapien Technology, it delivers some of the most realistic animations I have ever seen in a Madden game. That said, animations and realism are only part of what can make Madden an immersive experience; it also needs to nail it in every mode available in the game.
Mini-games and Superstar Mode are back, Franchise Mode gets a revamp, and MUT gets a nice touchup to add more freedom and leniency for players. But, when it comes to a new Madden, along with any other sport entry, it has to be enough to justify paying full price for a new game. In my opinion, I don’t think the new features and additions are enough for me to say, “I need Madden 24 over Madden 23.” For veterans of the series, paying the full price for the latest entry boils down to if you missed the features it added back, and the improvements to Franchise Mode are what you’ve been craving.
Overall Field Experience – AI and Animations
Although not the most important part of a Madden game — especially considering Madden 12 was the last fantastic addition with mediocre animations — it still needs to be said: the on-field experience in Madden 24 is the best it has ever been. NFL fans will have no trouble finding comparisons in-game to what they have seen in real life in the pro league.
When you boot up a game of Madden 24, you can tell that new improvements have been made to the AI and animations. This is especially noticeable when it comes to offensive blocking. Linemen take full advantage of the new blocking system, allowing them to create larger holes for runners through chip blocking, double teaming, and pushing the line forward for that extra inch toward the first down. Madden 23 made the player feel like they were constantly doing wrong in the running game, but this is no longer the case in Madden 24 as the revamped blocking systems allow your teammates to work harder for you, thus leading to breakaway runs and a rewarding experience.
EA promised that Zone Coverage in Madden 24 was a vast improvement over its predecessor, but it’s hard not to disagree. I noticed that the game loves to favor the secondary defense when you’re playing on offense, then lower the secondary skill level when your team is on defense. I understand the game wants you to improve your Madden skills, but if EA is going to state that “Zone Coverage plays more authentically,” then you should make it that way for the player on both sides of the ball.
Another focus the game aims to improve is all forms of tackling, including wrap tackles, scoop tackles, you name it. This is where Madden 24 shines the most in its gameplay and makes it feel more like a next-gen Madden game. The tackles are hands down the most realistic out of the entire franchise, and this stems from EA scanning real-life NFL players to get the most accurate fluid movements in franchise history. Scanning NFL players for tackles isn’t the end; EA also used the new Sapien Skeleton to scan the audience, referees, and coaches, creating a more realistic approach in the stadium. You must hand it to the developers for their dedication to the franchise in this regard.
Fan Favorite Modes – Tuned for More Player Freedom
Enough with the pretty animations of Madden 24; let’s get into the new and enhanced features for the latest entry. A community favorite is back, Mini-Games in Training Mode, allowing players to improve their players in Franchise mode during the pre-season, along with it being added to the weekly schedule throughout the regular season. While this is great and fun in its own right, some of the Mini-games are too “arcade-like” and shine a negative light on the realistic nature that these Madden games aim to emulate, taking away from the immersive experience. Still, it is nice to have another way to improve your players and acquire rewards because who doesn’t like that?
Additional improvements have been made to Franchise Mode, including overhauls to trades, trade tuning, an additional year of draft picks, and commissioner tools. All of these enhancements to the fan-favorite Mode add freedom to the sandbox, which is emphasized in both online and solo play, allowing it to cater to all players. Madden 23 tended to strip away options for the player, but now, players have way more access to adjust their league to their liking, making it feel more like you’re a general manager or a coach. I found this incredibly refreshing and felt that Franchise Mode is more addicting than ever because of these improvements. It’s a nice hint that EA is finally heading in the right direction for this particular Mode.
Speaking of moving in the right direction, Madden 24 has added Superstar back to the game, a mode that could be the defining reason for some players to purchase the game. There’s nothing better than creating your player, taking him through the Combine, raising him through the league to stardom, and becoming a Hall of Famer. I always wondered why this Mode was taken out of previous entries, considering it offers some of the deepest player progression compared to other sports titles. Superstar Mode is the best addition to Madden 24, and any fan could lose hours upon hours playing it.
Madden Ultimate Team – Same Feel, More Content
Madden Ultimate Team, one that series veterans will likely spend the most time in, is looking to have its most significant content drop throughout the game’s lifespan. With EA promising to bring seven seasons to MUT, players get the opportunity to be more involved than ever. Outside of a long list of seasons, Madden Ultimate Team significantly improves navigating the menu, adds new live event programming, and includes the highly-requested crossplay feature for friends to play on different consoles.
The one issue that Madden Ultimate Team had in previous entries is that it needed to be more newcomer friendly. That is no longer the case, as Madden 24 brings a whole new tutorial system for those who aren’t very familiar with the mode, allowing for the highest amount of accessibility yet. This tutorial system is so in-depth that it will teach everything from fundamentals to the more advanced systems the mode entails. Newcomers aren’t the only ones who will enjoy this training system, as there will also be tutorials for veterans alike as MUT will teach players “new mechanics” throughout the NFL season.
Madden 24 ran into some key issues that need to be addressed. For some reason, navigating through the menus in MUT and Franchise Mode was painfully slow, which caused me to lose my patience and exit the game entirely. It makes no sense why simple navigation between tabs should be causing stutter loads. The game needs a patch to fix this slow speed issue, but outside of that, the game ran pretty well on the field, with occasional glitches and frame rate drops. During early access, the servers went down right off the bat, making me worry that EA isn’t entirely prepared for the number of players it’s bringing on, but what else is new?
Players will find a lot of fun in Madden 24 mainly due to improved features, enhanced animations for a better field experience, and the return of modes that EA should have never removed in the first place. Regardless, the newest Madden doesn’t feel like a necessity. Despite all the positives and added-on fancy features, I can’t recommend paying full price for Madden 24, as it doesn’t feel different enough when comparing last year’s edition. But if you’re a die-hard veteran craving a Madden that promotes more player agency, EA has fine-tuned the football emulation to make it a better experience.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on August 18th, 2023