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Madden

26 Jun 2020

Madden 21 Gameplay: New features, enhanced player-control, gameplay reveal, developer deep dive & more

Fans have been waiting for a look into Madden 21 for a long time.

We got some things teased in its trailer, but since then, we've gotten tons of big reveals.

Let's go over everything we know about Madden 21's gameplay so far.

New gameplay features

Starting with the Madden reveal trailer, we began learning about many new exciting features coming to Madden 21. Now with the developer's stream on 25 June, we've got plenty more gameplay features revealed.

The priority for the new features seems to be creating more user-input and building a skill-gap in the gameplay.

These new features include:

Improved QB/passing AI - Passing in Madden 21 will receive a ton of new changes and features. QBs will now be able to throw while being tackled, a talent that will vary depending on stats and physicality. QBs will now adjust throwing speed dynamically depending on pressure and route depth, modified by the throwing under pressure stat. There are also many new options for branching out, which will allow quarterbacks to get the ball where it needs to go immediately on snaps instead of after a lengthy dropback animation. On top of this, the illegal contact penalty will be added, and new pass interference AI will better adjust for incidental contact that disrupts routes. Finally, pass leading has been reworked after its controversial state in Madden 20, removed in favor of better velocity control for pocket passers which will reward route reading.

Catching - Players will now be able to direct where players will go during the catch animation via the left thumb stick. This will allow for better body control when receiving difficult or well-defended passes.

New rushing defense AI - Rushing defense was a huge challenge in Madden 20 which resulted in a running meta. Madden 21 looks to limit this by reworking defensive AI to be more effective against the run. This includes better edge defender AI for better angles of attack. This also includes better anticipation from defender AI assessing running routes around blockers. Defenders will also intelligently push blockers into gaps when possible.

New audibles - Audibles are getting many changes heading into Madden 21. For starters, players are now more likely to jump for false starts after two audibles. Audibles will also now have an extensive new system to better create offensive packages and substitute players/roles.

Player fatigue - Players will now receive fatigue that compounds for players working from outside of their position. This will mainly work against repeat-ball carriers that aren't running backs, better balancing things like the Wildcat formation. Fatigue will result in a higher chance to fumble the ball.

Kicking - There are many new changes made to the kicking game in Madden 21. For starters, the kicking system will be made more challenging, and inaccurate kicks will be more punished. Also the ball physics of bouncing after a kick have been adjusted to be more realistic, which helps prevent the infamous scum kick, and wind speed will be less impactful.

Wide receiver abilities - In Madden 20 there are several features that give bonuses to receivers coming out of specific sets. These bonuses will now be reworked to receivers catching the ball in specific areas of the field.

Defensive coverage abilities - To mirror the changes to wide receiver abilities that make bonuses locationally based, defenders will be getting the same treatment. That means defenders will specialize in covering specific areas of the field.

Skill Stick - The Skill Stick introduces a lot more creativity to evasion on offense. By using the right thumbstick, players can combine jukes, spins, hurdles, dead legs, and more.

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Pass rushing moves - Along with offensive capabilities of the right thumbstick, pass rushing moves will also be executed the same way. This adds a lot of creativity to attacking the backfield with your defensive line, which may draw players away from almost exclusively playing as linebackers, corners, and safeties.

Tackling adjustment on location - Defenders don't tackle the same way if a play is just in front of the first down marker, or just about to cross the goal line. Madden 21 will represent this by changing how defenders approach tackling depending on where the play is at on the field. This intelligent tackling will be variable depending on stats and X-factor abilities. There will also be better tackling AI from players actively being blocked, either in the open field or at the line of scrimmage.

Coaching adjustments - Thanks to new coaching adjustment options, players can adjust things like their zone drops to better react to successful routes run by the opponent. This will help remove the necessity of playing corners and safeties on defense to stop successful wide receivers from taking over a game.

You can read over many of these changes in full detail in the 26 June Gridiron Notes.

Actual gameplay reveal?

We haven't seen much of actual gameplay beyond some cinematics.

It would be amazing to see actual plays, menus, and in-game physics for Madden 21 in the near future.

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With just two months until release, we are all keen to see just what Madden 21 has in store for us.