Madden 22 Review: Next Gen drags the franchise past the goal line

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Whether you're looking for gift options or thinking about snagging the title for your new console, our Madden 22 review will help you decide whether this year's game is worth your time.

We're looking specifically at the next gen version in this Madden 22 review, as you'll find EA kept some of the title's new features away from current gen platforms.

Four Months Later: Revisiting our Madden 22 Review

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Madden 22 was initially launched worldwide on August 20, 2021, and there were high hopes for this year's installment in the long running franchise.

EA had showed off pristine graphics, a few fascinating new features, and even made some big promises about more major upgrades that were on the way.

They talked about "Franchise as a live service" and told fans that three different updates were coming to Franchise Mode after Madden 22 was released.

In our initial Madden 22 review, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and hoped those things would happen as initially promised, but little went according to plan.

The Scouting update that was hyped during EA Play Live and promised in September was missing in action for some time before being officially delayed and arriving on October 12, 2021.

While the upgrades to Scouting have definitely helped Franchise Mode, the other two promised updates are still nowhere to be found and don't have a clear arrival date.

Ultimate Team has gotten the amount of attention most will expect since launch, with most of the MUT 22 promos delivering fun content, but nothing that really changed or improved on the existing Ultimate Team experience.

What follows is mostly our original Madden 22 review, but a few things (including our final score) have been changed with the post-launch developments in mind.

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Madden 22 Review on Next Gen

With key features like Dynamic Gameday linked to next gen and affecting practically every aspect of the game, we've chosen to separate our Madden 22 review between next gen and current gen.

Here, we'll take a look at the next gen version of Madden 22 as played on Xbox Series X|S, which is also available on PS5, to see whether EA Sports delivered this year despite pressure from fans.

Madden 22 review
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GAME ON: Madden 22 is finally here to play

If you'd like to see our thoughts on the release for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, you can read over our Madden 22 current gen review here.

Without further ado, here's our Madden 22 review for next gen consoles.

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Dynamic Gameday just makes games more fun

This was something we got to experience first during the Madden 22 beta, and it holds as the strongest addition now that the full version of the game has arrived.

Gameday Momentum makes everything feel more important, whether that's a crucial stop or a big completion. However, the Gameday Atmosphere is still a bit imperfect.

Madden 22 review
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GORGEOUS: You can't say it isn't pretty on next gen

We ran into a referee glitching out in the background inside of 30 seconds just during the pre-game cinematic sequence, but the game itself went off well and the crowd definitely feels more involved than ever before.

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We also haven't seen those presentation glitches continue, so it appears EA was able to resolve most of them with updates since the title was released.

We do have to commend the commentary, which so far feels more natural and immersive as part of the full well-rounded experience than ever before.

Overall, the presentation looks fantastic, and even little things like Jonathan Coachman giving a halftime update makes it all feel a bit more like the true NFL gameday experience.

Franchise Mode is slowly moving forward

A lot of strides have been made with Franchise Mode this year, but they may not be enough to make up for the flaws in the mode.

So far, Staff Management does feel like a great addition allowing more nuance and strategy to the way the team is built off the field as well.

The updated Franchise Hub and Weekly Strategy are both positive additions, but the Season Engine with cinematic locker room interactions feels forced and don't add as much as you'd hope.

Madden 22 franchise mode
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SOAK IT IN: The new Franchise Hub is packed with information

The sadly unfortunate truth is that even the version of Franchise Mode released at launch is unfinished, as EA Sports has committed to "Franchise as a Live Service" and that almost feels like an excuse to not have features ready by launch.

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The highly anticipated scouting update was an undeniable upgrade, and you can go through our scouting guide to get a better idea of how it works, but it's a feature that will still need more work and tuning to truly deliver.

There are still two supposed Franchise updates on the table, with reports that a Scouting Talent Tree and upgraded scenario engine were in the works, but none of that matters until they actually deliver.

Core Gameplay

This is what it's all about, right? If it doesn't feel like football and it's not fun, nothing else really matters.

If you're expecting the upgrades to player movement and things like Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI to make a massive immediate difference, don't hold your breath.

While the gameplay does feel slightly improved and a bit crisper and cleaner all around, it feels pretty much like it has in recent years.

Madden 22 gameplay
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INTERCEPTION: Passing and catching feel as exciting and dangerous as ever

Madden 22 still feels like a Madden game, for better or worse, and the improvements to things like feet detection at the sidelines or other nuances aren't going to feel overly significant if you're used to Madden.

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You're also still going to be up against some of the classic Madden issues, whether it's thrown balls bouncing wildly, players not properly colliding, deep passes being picked off too often, or flawed animations.

For newer players there will be the usual adjustment as you get a feel for the controls, but things are mostly intuitive and receptive as you nestle in.

MUT 22 brings Ultimate Team into a new era

Whether it's something new for you or an old friend, MUT 22 does feel like a great step forward compared to last year.

The opening tutorial-style challenges offer a great way to get a feel for the game, and you're offered several different ways to go about crafting your team right from the get.

Madden 22 Ultimate Team
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ULTIMATE TEAM: Get rolling on the path to building a dream team of legends

The two cardinal flaws in Ultimate Team remain however, the first being the sheer amount of time it takes to navigate the mode, as even the improved hub still makes every action, from opening a pack to checking a mission, take about five times as long as it should.

On top of the loading delays and clunkiness of MUT 22, there's the lingering issue that your team will never be finished and you'll feel pushed to spend extra real-world money to get packs and score the best players.

Face of the Franchise

Face of the Franchise seemed promising this year, with new features like Player Classes and integration with The Yard on the table.

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Madden 22 Face of the Franchise
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SMILE: You're on Face of the Franchise! What is this smile, though?

While Face of the Franchise is still a heavily cinematic experience, there are intriguing challenges with each week as you push your player to the next level.

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There unfortunately also seem to be glitches with player progression, but patches are on the way to fix this. Unfortunately, it's not fully clear how to best upgrade your player without having to simply grind through The Yard whether you like it or not.

If you need a little guidance to best tackle Face of the Franchise, check out our beginner's guide to put things on the right track.

The Yard

The only good thing The Yard has going for it compared to previous years is integration with Face of the Franchise, but that doesn't feel like enough to cover its flaws.

Madden 22 The Yard
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BO JACKSON: It's nice seeing The Yard have a field named after the legend

While this unique house rules game mode utilizing smaller teams with all different formations can be fun at times, it feels more frustrating than anything, especially in knowing that most of the Yard-specific skills and strategies won't translate to anywhere else in the game.

The Yard isn't special enough to make up for that issue, and the integration with Face of the Franchise ends up making you feel obligated to play The Yard in order to grind your player class to higher levels.

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The Verdict

It's unavoidable that your Madden 22 experience will likely be colored by other football video games you've played, whether that's other recent versions of Madden or old classics like NFL 2K or NCAA Football.

Don't go in expecting a game that doesn't feel like modern-day Madden, but players familiar with Madden 21 or Madden 20 will notice definite improvement in Madden 22.

Whether it's the core gameplay, Franchise Mode, or even still imperfect modes like Face of the Franchise, everything does feel somewhat improved over recent years.

This is especially true on next gen where features like Dynamic Gameday get to shine along with player movement improvements and excellent visuals.

If you're on the fence about pulling the trigger on Madden 22, give the 10-hour EA Play Trial a shot to see how it feels for yourself.

While Madden 22 isn't a perfect game, and will hopefully continue to get better after launch, there are enough current improvements in what is still a very solid football sim to earn it a respectable rating after the dust has settled.

We originally gave this title a 4 out of 5, but constant delays for Franchise updates and a lack of innovation after launch in the ways EA promised have to be taken into account.

RealSport Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)