Madden 22 review: What's good, bad and new from EA Sports in 2021

Madden 22 review: What's good, bad and new from EA Sports in 2021

Madden 22 had its worldwide release on Friday, August 20. Since then, millions of fans have been playing the simulation football game, but understandably, some may still be holding out to see if the game is worth the $60 asking price for the standard edition.

After playing through the different game modes, Sporting News is ready to review the popular football game. Note that our review is based on the current gen consoles, so we’re missing out on some of the upgraded features of next gen.

There are a number of noticeable differences between current gen and next gen, including improved graphics, Next Gen Movement 2.0, Next Gen Stats and gameday atmosphere. 

With that, let’s get into the review.

MADDEN 22 GUIDE: Everything you need to know before buying the game

Gameplay

[embedded content]

While we didn’t have the full experience of the Next Gen Movement 2.0 featured in the next gen consoles, EA Sports did make changes to gameplay for current gen. The changes are quite dramatic when you first start to play as it feels like your player is moving in slow motion. But as you continue to play, you get more used to the changes. And EA Sports made a big improvement with its gameplay in Madden 22. 

These changes took away the ability to manipulate the game in a number of ways. For example, you used to be able to use a defensive player in the middle of the field, and if they had good speed then you could essentially just run around and cover everyone. But with the new movement, it’s much harder to run around, and that’s a good thing. You shouldn’t be able to cover essentially the entire field with a single player.

EA Sports also fixed an issue where you could simply run around the offensive lineman if you rushed with an outside linebacker. It’s still somewhat possible if you get a good jump and you have a really fast player, but it’s not nearly as exploitable as it was in Madden 21 or Madden 20.

On the offensive side of the ball, users can no longer use the “stop and go” technique. While this wasn’t as big of an issue as the two defensive schemes I pointed out, it is nice that EA Sports is observing what users do, and improve the gameplay to make it better. 

But the improved gameplay has also created some downsides. Zone defenses get burnt over top by fast receivers too often, and man defense has had similar issues in the past. It’s not quite game-breaking, but it’s becoming near impossible to stop the combination of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. Although in EA’s defense, it’s tough for real-life defenses to stop that combo as well.

Madden Ultimate Team

(EA Sports) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/5f/54/mut_b5l6sprl6jpy1t9a9xuz75h8e.png?t=2014548523&w=500&quality=80

Madden Ultimate Team made a lot of changes in terms of how users progress, and I’m not a fan. MUT has already received complaints for being “pay to win” and these changes make it even more difficult for NMS (no money spent) users to field a competitive roster. EA Sports decreased the benefits you received from Solo Battles and MUT Draft, two staples of NMS users who would grind those challenges out to compensate for their lack of Weekend League rewards.

It’s hard to fully review MUT at the start of the year because so much changes as the game goes on. MUT is truly a year-round game mode with constant updates throughout the year, so it’s a little unfair to give it a full review right now.

MUT DATABASE: Best players, top card ratings for Ultimate Team

Face of the Franchise

(EA Sports) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d5/29/fotf_19viav6awfik91vy8x36m5nydx.png?t=2014548523&w=500&quality=80

As someone who used to love the Superstar Mode of the old Madden games, I usually look forward to the renovated version of that, which is now Face of the Franchise. EA Sports ventured into more storytelling, moving away from the simple Superstar Mode and creating Longshot in Madden 18.

Longshot was brought back in Madden 19 before being changed to Face of the Franchise in Madden 20. The game mode has been called Face of the Franchise ever since, and it’s undergone a lot of changes.

I was disappointed with how Face of the Franchise turned out in Madden 22. Usually there’s some sort of adversity you need to overcome in this game mode. In this year’s version, you start off by essentially being locked in as a top draft pick, and then you play two college football games on easy mode to seal your fate as one of the top picks in the draft. There are scenarios that pop up throughout your NFL career as well that extend the game mode, but I wasn’t a fan of how quickly you progressed through your college career.

It’d be better if EA Sports went back to the roots of this game mode — and its counterpart in NCAA Football — with Road to Glory. It’d be fun if you could play as your character in high school, maybe a full college season and then finally you get drafted into the NFL. And by doing this, you can make it so your player can progress in different areas as you play through. Instead, your player essentially has pre-determined stats based on the player profile you pick, and the games you play in college are essentially meaningless.

I don’t mind the storytelling aspect of Face of the Franchise, but it’s hard to sit through when you know whatever you do on the field doesn’t really matter until you get to the NFL.

MORE: Here are the best teams to play with in Madden 22

Franchise Mode

EA Sports frustrated Madden fans last year when they announced the franchise mode “features” that essentially just looked like patch updates. This uproar eventually led to executive producer Seann Graddy releasing a video statement saying EA Sports was going to make a better effort to improve franchise mode.

And while they did make big changes, something we haven’t seen in franchise mode in many years, the mode still has a long way to go. To put it simply: if you were frustrated with franchise mode before, the changes in Madden 22 aren’t going to change anything.

But they are a step in the right direction. The changes introduced Franchise Staff, which includes offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and a player personnel department (as well as the head coach). The staff can be progressed through Talent Trees and Staff Points, which can be gathered by meeting certain goals throughout the season.

(EA Sports) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/46/a8/franchise-staff_1syo22htdclxj1pzljt2b8yrab.png?t=2015053163&w=500&quality=80

EA Sports has also promised a much improved scouting feature. Not many details were released about this scouting feature as the EA Sports team is still working on it. In a Gridiron Notes for franchise mode, EA Sports says the scouting feature will be implemented in the game in September via a patch update. 

Early screenshots show the scouting feature will send your team scouts on assignment throughout the country, and you can focus in a specific area or region. It looks cool, but not much to review since it’s not out yet.

As for franchise mode in general, most fans want EA Sports to go back to the old days where there was a lot more customization. You used to be able to create your own team, your own stadium, your own playbook, etc. But EA Sports started to slowly strip away all of those features and never put them back in. Imagine if EA Sports decided to build on these features throughout the years rather than just get rid of them all together.

MORE: How to throw different pass types in Madden 22

The Yard/Superstar KO

(EA Sports) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/e9/e4/the-yard_xetdzzcx8ae61l7cxwg4gfbm2.png?t=2014548523&w=500&quality=80

The Yard and Superstar KO are two new game modes added to Madden in recent years. Superstar KO was introduced late in Madden 20, and The Yard was introduced in Madden 21. Both are fun modes to play when you don’t want to grind hours in MUT or franchise mode. They’re simple, arcade-style modes that provide something different.

While I wouldn’t buy Madden simply because of either of these game modes, they’re nice options to have.

Is Madden worth buying?

Madden 22 made a lot of improvements, but still isn’t where fans would like it to be. The good news is it appears EA Sports is trying to listen to fans and improve the long-forgotten franchise mode. We didn’t expect a complete overhaul in just a year (especially with EA’s focus on building next-gen), so the changes we did get are nice.

Overall, I still enjoy Madden 22 as a game. But I can understand why some don’t. If you’re someone who enjoyed Madden 21, then you’re going to like Madden 22. If you didn’t like Madden 21, then there aren’t enough changes in Madden 22 that are really going to sway you.

It’ll be interesting to see what EA Sports builds on for Madden 23. Madden 22 was a step in the right direction, but hopefully Madden 23 takes a few more steps.