Madden 23 Review: FieldSENSE leads a much-needed gameplay revival

Madden 23 came into this year with significant pressure to deliver on several fronts, but gameplay was clearly the biggest focus.

In our Madden 23 Review, we'll take a look at which game modes and features delivered and which ones could already have fans looking to next year's game.

Madden 23 Review

After an Early Access and EA Play Trial launch, Madden 23 is now available worldwide on all platforms.

The official release date was August 19, 2022, and it marks a new chapter for the franchise as they hope to push forward while honoring the legacy of namesake John Madden.

Madden 23 Review
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HIT EVERYTHING: Gameplay feels more natural than it has in years

BUY NOW: Get Madden 23 and start your journey today

With a redesigned gameplay system leading the charge along with improvements across every major game mode, let's take a look at exactly where Madden 23 did and didn't deliver.

FieldSENSE is a gameplay revelation

No matter how many adjustments and new features land in the various game modes, nothing in Madden 23 matters more than gameplay.

If that core element isn't fun or struggles in too many ways, it can turn even fans who love other modes away from the title.

Much like WWE 2K22 went back to basics, Madden 23 has rebuilt gameplay from the ground up with the all new FieldSENSE system.

It's more than just a flashy name, as the actual impacts, animations, and flow of core gameplay is light years ahead of what it's felt like in recent years.

The only issue with these gameplay upgrades is that players on Xbox One, PS4, and PC are left behind and stuck with the old system.

There is no way to truly experience the quality of Madden 23 if you're not on next gen with a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S.

Face of the Franchise steals the show with Career Mode upgrades

If you're normally focused on Career Mode in sports titles, Madden 23 has taken some big leaps forward to feel comparable to others.

Face of the Franchise has felt formulaic and lacked an extra kick for some time, but this year's version finally delivers.

They've done away with a collegiate and rookie style by dropping players into a fifth year where you sign a one-year "prove it" contract with the team of your choice.

Madden 23 Review
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BECOME A LEGEND: Power your way to a 99 Club worthy career

FieldSENSE shines again here, as new player locked camera options immerse you in the single player experience more than ever.

The reworked player build system provides more natural progression and leveling as you spend Skill Points to improve your player's Madden 23 ratings.

New goals and storylines, along with a reworked Side Activities system, come together for a complete experience as you grind your way into the 99 Club.

Franchise Mode took two steps forward and one step back

There are always some hiccups, and unfortunately Franchise Mode continues to be the redheaded stepchild of Madden.

Free Agency took the spotlight this year, and the new Free Agency hub is a major improvement with Player Tags and Player Motivations factoring into that.

As good an idea as these upgrades were, the reality is seeing major bugs affecting Free Agency that make Franchise Mode almost unplayable after one or two seasons.

The most prevalent issue so far is seeing top players from basically every team in the league land in Free Agency after just two years in a Franchise Mode save.

Relocation still remains nearly identical to Madden 15 as they've still not introduced a Create A Team mechanic.

Despite some upgrades (which aren't working as intended), Franchise Mode still feels like the least important part of Madden to the development team by a very large margin.

MUT 23 levels the Ultimate Team playing field

As for Madden 23 Ultimate Team, it's become clear that EA's gameplay improvements and other adjustments heavily targeted the competitive aspect this year.

While a meta offensive playbook has begun to emerge (Washington Commanders), defensive adjustments have far more power to neutralize "cheese" plays and level the playing field.

The overall UI of MUT 23 is more streamlined this year, and processes like completing Sets or browsing the Marketplace have been simplified.

However, it's key to note that players who didn't enjoy Ultimate Team last year probably aren't going to enjoy it this year.

The basics of card collection, team building, repetitive challenges, and necessary grinding in the pursuit of a competitive edge feel like the same MUT players have come to love or despise.

The Verdict

Madden 23 is the biggest step forward in core gameplay that EA has made in years, and as such it's more fun to play than any installment in recent memory.

The new Skill Based Passing mechanics and other gameplay changes take some adjustment to get used to, but that's something that seems universal even for competitive players, so those who are struggling to learn it are not alone.

We suggest all gamers with an Xbox Series X|S or PS5 take advantage of the 10-hour EA Play Trial to feel the new FieldSENSE engine for yourself, as nothing quite compares to that experience.

There's still room for improvement (and massive bugs to fix) in Franchise Mode, and plenty of refinement left on the table for Face of the Franchise and MUT as well.

Despite its flaws, Madden 23 is EA's best football game in years.

RealSport Rating (PS5 & Xbox Series X|S): 4.5 out of 5

We have to clarify our rating because of the fact that Madden 23 is so drastically different between generations.

Without the gameplay improvements from FieldSENSE that are exclusive to Madden 23 on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, we're lowering its rating on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

RealSport Rating (PS4, Xbox One, and PC): 3 out of 5

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