With a chance now to try out Franchise Mode, The Yard, and experience Core Gameplay upgrades along with the new Dynamic Gameday mechanic, here's our review of the Madden 22 beta.
Latest News - The Yard & Superstar KO join the beta
Following the first week of the Madden 22 beta, EA Sports updated it by adding The Yard and Superstar KO to the mix for the final stretch.
Superstar KO is exciting, but we were trapped in matchmaking and could never find an opponent online to play against, so we were unable to test it in the beta.
The Yard looks as great as ever, with unique Classes replacing Protoypes from Madden 21.
While Face of the Franchise isn't available in the beta, we know that your Avatar in The Yard will link directly to Face of the Franchise, allowing crossover progression between the two game modes.
The Yard felt fun in our brief glimpse of it, still creating a unique setup where a smaller group of players on the field challenges you to think on your feet and change the way you play.
Overall, The Yard looks like it has the potential to be the standout and a fan favorite game mode in Madden 22, but we'll have to wait and see how everything looks and plays when the final version launches.
Madden 22 Beta: Review
However, we've gotten the opportunity to be one of the lucky few to join the Community Playtest (Closed Beta) and actually try out this unfinished build.
It's important to note that the beta product being provided is not the final version of the game, and there are a handful of known bugs and issues that are already being remedied by EA Sports by the time the full game is released.
This early look has given us the opportunity to experience the core gameplay, and try out the new Dynamic Gameday mechanic in action.
The amount of Ultimate Team options in the beta are limited, and Face of the Franchise is unavailable, but other game modes including Exhibition, Franchise, Superstar KO, and The Yard have all been playable.
It's also important to remember that almost all the details of the game, including things like X-Factors, Ratings, Abilities, and more could be changed in the final version that launches worldwide in August.
So far, a few quick Play Now games have already made clear there are some upgrades in the game when it comes to core gameplay.
While this is an unfinished build and still has some issues, the first noticeable difference in core gameplay was the way catches can feel properly contested.
It's still a mechanic that needs some tuning in this build, but the defense's ability to play the receiver or the ball and contest a catch feels more like it should when compared to real-world NFL games.
The same goes for upgrades done to player physics, particularly to do with tackling and player momentum that accounts for height and weight.
Tackle animations seem to more appropriately match the way an interaction would go down on the field when considering the sizes of both players involved.
Halftime adjustments have also been added, which means you can choost to shift your offensive or defensive gameplan at halftime to counter the tendencies of your opponent in the first half.
However, the most exciting new piece of the game so far has got to be Dynamic Gameday and the way it affects the flow of the game.
Dynamic Gameday is a new feature exclusive to next gen consoles in Madden 22, and it's made up of Gameday Atmosphere, Gameday Momentum, and Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI.
Having only played a few short games, it's hard yet to get a full feel for the accuracy of Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI or the way Gameday Atmosphere will change between different stadiums.
However, a few games did give a really good feel for how Gameday Momentum will affect the flow of a game.
The momentum meter is ever-present, displayed at the top of the screen above the score and shifting one direction or another with every play.
When playing as the Kansas City Chiefs at home, you can get three different boosts through Gameday Momentum, and additional momentum will stack the next boost with the previous one.
In this unfinished build, these are the current momentum bonuses for the Chiefs:
- Home of the Chiefs (First Boost): Away Team audibles have a chance to fail
- Runner's High (Second Boost): Home Team has infinite stamina during plays
- Hot Hands (Third Boost): Home Team has improved catching
By comparison, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had both Runner's High then Hot Hands as their possible momentum boosts while playing as the away team, and it looks like it'll be standard for away teams to have access to a stadium's second and third momentum boosts.
Anything feels possible when you've got maximum momentum, but one bad play with lost yardage can quickly tip the scales far enough to drop away your third and final boost.
We'll learn more about Dynamic Gameday as we've had the opportunity to try different teams, but right now it feels like a fantastic addition that recreates the flow of an actual NFL game.
So far, Franchise Mode feels like a major step in the right direction, but it's still one that left us wanting more.
There are a lot of good changes this year, including the big additions of Staff Management and Weekly Strategy, both of which can be felt quickly in Franchise.
Staff Management introduces a new tiered RPG-style talent tree where you can upgrade the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, or Player Personnel department.
Weekly Strategy allows an upgraded level of nuance when it comes to choosing your gameplan on both sides of the ball as you prepare for each upcoming game.
Player Health will be as important as ever, with the ability to adjust reps during practice to preserve Player Health for the game while still allowing enough necessary practice time.
It will take more time with the game once it's been released to fully test out the limits of it, but so far the added Season Engine for Franchise does well in creating unique scenarios each week to keep things fresh.
As great as these additions feel, there's still more needed, as the highly anticipated Scouting upgrade isn't even due to enter the game until September, and players who start a Franchise before then won't be able to use it.
On top of that, team customization is still majorly lacking, with no ability to create a custom team when you start a Franchise, and instead the game once again uses the limited and restrictive relocation mechanic.
How to Sign Up for the Community Playtest (Closed Beta)
Unfortunately, there are no open sign ups available or ways to register directly for the Community Playtest (Closed Beta) at this time.
However, players can follow @EAMaddenNFL on Twitter for the chance to join, as they're planning to have giveaways with extra codes to join the beta.
The fun won't last long, as the Community Playtest (Closed Beta) is currently scheduled to end on July 1, 2021, and certain game modes like Face of the Franchise won't be available in this early build of the title.