Madden NFL 23 review: not a fumble, but still lost yardage

A running back for the titans walks past two fallen texan players.

Madden NFL 23

MSRP $69.99

“Madden NFL 23 is an improved game over Madden NFL 22, but that’s not enough to make it good.”

Advantages

  • Improved game

  • Madden Legacy Game

The inconvenients

  • Extremely slippery

  • Minimal mode improvements

  • MUT is unplayable

  • Lack of important features

EA’s Madden football series has been in freefall for years. Removed features, gameplay that seemed based on stiff animations more than realistic physics and skills, and a plethora of game-breaking bugs marred every entry in this hit sports game series. They all played like Justin Fields in this 2021 Browns game. The pitch for Madden NFL 23 from EA was that it would honor the legacy of John Madden by solving these problems. In reality, the results are mixed as the new additions are useful but still overshadowed by significant issues.

Madden NFL 23 is a clear step forward Madden NFL 22 in many ways, with some key gameplay and animation improvements making the game heavier, more precise, and less stuffy. That said, other issues that have plagued the series for years are still there. The simulation aspects of Madden NFL 23 are not as deep as they should be. Some bugs disappeared, but other terrible ones appeared in their place. Core modes seem to be ignored, as EA can’t seem to balance both gameplay fixes and feature improvements during its annual development cycle. While EA may have slowed down the Madden series’ freefall slightly with some nice gameplay changes, Madden NFL 23 is not the franchise’s turnaround season (although I hope it is for Justin Fields).

Madden 23 Official Trailer | In-Depth Analysis of FieldSENSE™

Implementation of minor improvements

There isn’t a major overhaul to the core of how Madden NFL 23 plays, but a bunch of small improvements make the game a bit better than Madden NFL 22 and get catchy nicknames under the new FeildSENSE brand. For starters, the animations flow more smoothly as there are many new animations for pass rush, tackles, blocks, and turnovers. Linemen and linebackers feel more involved and threatening in Madden NFL 23 because they aren’t locked into game-defining animations.

“Gameplay improvements are the real star of the show in Madden NFL23.

Other FieldSENSE mechanics include running backs that perform 360-degree cuts, and cornerbacks and wide receivers have new moves to counter each other. These are minor additions to the real star of the series: skill-based passing. The passage is reworked in Madden NFL 23 so players can aim and time the power of their throws as a quarterback with more acumen. While not the best tutorial in the game, this new system gives the player a lot more say in ball placement and makes the passing game feel like more than a quick event.

All in all, these minor gameplay improvements are the real star of the show in Madden NFL 23, and I’m glad that EA has finally taken the time to address some issues that have plagued the series for years. This comes with an important caveat, however: I am reviewing the game on Xbox Series X. Be warned that if you don’t have a current-gen system and are playing on Xbox One or PS4, you won’t won’t see any of these gameplay improvements even though EA is still announcing FieldSense in the game’s last-gen version.

It’s also hard to ignore the fact that these are just gameplay tweaks that EA has given a fancy name to make them look fancier than they are. Good core gameplay is essential for any sports game, but it’s also just part of a much bigger package every year. Unfortunately for Madden NFL 23FieldSENSE is really all it has going for it, and it’s somewhat incriminating that it’s all they could do between entries.

A running back for the titans walks past two fallen texan players.

chaos mode

The new additions to Madden NFL 23 the basic modes seem relatively minimal. Like the last two entries, the game features Play Now matches, one-on-one online multiplayer, the managerial Franchise mode, the more player-focused Face of the Franchise narrative mode, and the ever-lucrative Madden Ultimate Team. .

The biggest improvements to the franchise come from free agency, as players now have incentives and tags that determine whether or not they’ll accept your offer. Unfortunately, this system seems to break down a few seasons as talented, highly rated players leave their teams. Scouting has also become a bit more in-depth with position-specific attributes, but all of this can be largely ignored and simulated by casual players without much impact on the pitch. It’s nice that EA isn’t completely ignoring Franchise Mode anymore, but there should be more here to build on its substantial overhaul in Madden NFL 22.

The lack of substantial improvements means the experience feels less than the sum of its parts.

Face of the Franchise takes a lot of the mode’s narrative elements and adds the Cornerback position and weekly side activities for slight improvements in its place. Considering how miserable Madden NFL 22 The face of the franchise’s narrative was, it’s good that Madden NFL 23 focuses more on gameplay as your fourth-year player tries to reach the Madden 99 club. unroll smoothly.

A bears player prepares to attack a lions player.

During this time, Ultimate Team made some changes to things like MUT Champions, but a menu glitch made that mode nearly unplayable during the review period, so I never really engaged with those things. On top of that, there’s a special game honoring John Madden that players will experience upon startup. Madden NFL 23 for the first time. It’s a nice homage to the series namesake, with restored audio clips of Madden and a presentation that stands apart from the standard games. I long for something deeper narratively, like a mode where players can experience moments from Madden’s career as a coach, especially with the lack of story in Face of the Franchise. Then again, there’s not much they could do in EA’s seven months of development after his death.

Don’t call it a comeback

Madden NFL 23 looks like a game made by the developers most concerned with making minor gameplay improvements to hopefully assuage fan outrage and get gameplay in a good place before the The NCAA spin-off is coming. While it works in some cases, the issues and lack of substantial improvements means the experience feels less than the sum of its parts. The constraints of EA’s vision for the annual sports series are starting to show.

The more time I spend with Madden NFL 23, the more his problems continue to annoy me. FieldSENSE enhancements feel great in your first quick matches. However, over time you will still notice that it is a missing NFL simulation with animations that seem to cancel out as soon as you get a touchdown, the lack of real offensive and defensive coordinators, a draw pre-match or referees on the pitch. field as you play. Madden NFL 23 It may be the most played Madden game in years, but that doesn’t mean it’s realistic. Players will also have to deal with a plethora of bugs. Although executive producer Aaron McHardy explained to Digital Trends how EA has systematically fixed bugs found in previous games, many issues are still present.

A saints player catches a pass intended for a falcons player.

Some long-standing issues, like player and trainer models transforming strangely or players continuing to run after a game ends, are gone, but other bugs remain and show up in their place. Stadium lighting flickers and Madden NFL 23 the menus, in particular, seem to have a lot of problems. I’ve mentioned Ultimate Team’s menu issues before, but at some point my Face of the Franchise menu went completely invisible when I changed my difficulty settings. This made the mode nearly unplayable until it randomly fixed after moving forward a few weeks. I also got stuck on loading screens, and a quick look online exposes many other problems. To release a game with so many bugs is unacceptable, even if Madden NFL 23 has slightly fewer bugs than Madden NFL 22.

On the contrary, this bug situation is emblematic of the fact that the Madden series has dug itself into a hole from which it will take more than a year to emerge. Whereas Madden NFL 23 technically stopped the decline in the quality of the series, it did not start the slope. I want to avoid clichés, like saying that Madden NFL 23 is “a step in the right direction”, but EA can improve this series if it iterates faster, more substantially, and with fewer bugs. It is clear that EA has no intention of removing a year from this series, but Madden NFL 23 shows that this may be what the series needs if it is to recover everything it lost and exceed expectations.

Our point of view

Madden NFL 23 made a lot of good gameplay improvements targeted at its hardcore gamers. Unfortunately, this approach also exacerbated some of the series’ other lingering issues. If you really need a Madden game for your next-gen system, this is the best option. That’s not to say it’s a good one, though. Casual players can enjoy the few improvements when playing a match or two online, but glitches, non-substantial mode improvements, and other issues with its situation make Madden NFL 23 more frustrating than fun in the long run for hardcore gamers.

Is there a better alternative?

Currently, EA has exclusive rights to NFL simulation games, so there are none. If you want a Madden game with fewer glitches, you’ll probably have to go back to the Xbox 360 era. Still, the current state of the Madden series interests me to see what the simulation-free football game that 2K has in store is like.

How long will it last?

Madden NFL 23 does not have an endpoint, so playing time will vary from player to player. I put over 20 hours into the game for this review.

Should I buy it?

No. Madden NFL 23 is still not a good football simulation game. If you need to buy a Madden game for your next-gen system, make it this one, but in all honesty, you’re better off avoiding the series until EA relies more on the foundations that she began to lay here.

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