But where does this leave Madden 21?
The Story So Far
EA Sports have had a tough year with Madden 21 so far.
Clearly, making any game during a pandemic is a tricky affair. Many of the annual sports titles suffered from fan unhappiness but this was a particularly crucial year for Madden.
Fans were not happy with the lack of development in franchise mode, there were an insane amount of bugs at launch and the general fan sentiment was such that the game was review-bombed on Metacritic.
To be fair to EA, they have worked hard to recover a difficult situation.
There has been so much fire fighting they must be working overtime just to stay afloat and keep updates coming.
The problem with this approach is that it just gets them back to where they were - a decent and functioning sports title.
It doesn't move the game along into anything beyond expectation. And that is what next-gen is all about.
Next-Gen Madden 21
EA missed the boat of next-gen launch for most of it's titles, but that's to be expected.
In a recent trailer, we saw what we have in store for the next-gen consoles in an update coming 4th December.
The trailer lists out some of the changes we can expect, and it's actually more than we expected.
Next-gen player movement powered by NFL next-gen stats - its unclear if this is an actual gameplay change or whether its a UI change, or both. The NFL shows in game updates from its 'next-gen stats' service to show interesting metrics like win probability, throw distance and velocity.
Next-gen Replay - this is a nice little touch than can show off the power of the consoles, but doesn't add a huge amount to the experience. It feels like a quick development win.
Star Driven Play Calling - this does seem to be the most intricate gameplay change in that it appears to give you a new way of selecting plays based on getting your best player on the ball.
Most of these updates seem to be inching improvements, which are welcomed, but not the huge chunks fans are clamouring for.
It's important to note, with Dual Entitlement you can copy your current-gen details across to next-gen for free. This is a nice move for fans that they can't lose sight of.
And its unrealistic to expect EA to have updates half-way through a year that transform a game.
That said, some other sports titles have managed to give much more wholesale updates ready for the next-gen launch - so it is possible.
Where does this leave us?
The classic line from Homer Simpson is aim low and avoid disappointment, and this is our recommendation for fans of Madden 21.
Many fans will want EA to cut their losses with Madden 21 and focus on making Madden 22 an absolute knockout that maximizes all the potential the next-gen consoles can muster.
Either way, the updates coming on the 4 December are the right direction. They add levels of immersion and depth we have been asking for forever. Therefore, it's hard to criticise EA for doing what we ask.
It's just taking longer and slower progress than I think most fans want to stomach. Despite all the negativity over Madden 21, it doesn't look like much has changed in terms of sales and performance so we are unlikely to see a huge change of strategy from EA.
Finally, many Franchise fans are still waiting for the latest update of news for their part of the game.
A recent update was a band-aid on a stab wound for these fans, with the majority of the update coming in January which is far too late for most serious franchise players who are already multiple seasons into their sims.
We recognise the effort from EA, but maybe it's time to focus on execution for Madden 22?