Madden 21: A hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a trainwreck


Image Source: EA Sports

RJ Mahoney, Contributing Writer

Every year Electronic Arts and their staff comprised of toddlers and angry gorillas come out with a “new” Madden game. I put quotation marks around the word new because every year for the past six years, give or take, they have produced almost the exact same product with a  shiny new game mode to make it seem different. Things such as gameplay mechanics, animations and user interfaces are simply copied and pasted from last year’s game into this year’s game. Don’t believe me? The Gatorade carts on the sidelines in practice mode still said Madden 20 on them for nearly a month after release, and at the end of year one in franchise mode, you could play in Super Bowl 54! Sounds great, right? Wrong, this year’s Super Bowl was Super Bowl 55. In addition, gameplay is still 90% animation based and a majority of the animations have been in the game since Madden 16, making each year’s new installment of the game feel like nothing more than a $60 roster upgrade. So, with such a lack of attention to detail, game design and user experience, one would assume that critics everywhere would be slamming the game, right? Once again, wrong. For the past 10 years, IGN has referred to every single new Madden title a “step in the right direction.” Thankfully, sites like Metacritic allow for user scores to be shown, and on this site, Madden 21 has received an abysmal 0.2/10 average user rating. 

Instead of focusing on improving gameplay and fixing franchise mode, a mode that is so bad it was trending on twitter simply because of how bad it is, EA opts to focus its attention on Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team, if you don’t know, is a mode in which the user collects online cards for real life players and assembles their own team to compete against other users online or against the CPU in missions and challenges. On the surface the mode seems innocent; until you realize it’s basically a form of child gambling. This is because the gamemode is designed to take more hours of gameplay than most people can give just in order to keep up with the other players online. This means that the only real way for most players to stay competitive and have fun is through buying packs. These packs can be purchased either with in-game currency called coins that you earn by playing challenges, or with Madden points, which you have to spend real life money on. In fact, there are some bundles, which give you better valued packs with better cards, that can only be purchased with Madden points. Like I said earlier, acquiring coins through playing the game takes more time than most people have, most players are left with no choice but to stuff the pockets of the corporate gremlins who sit atop Electronic Arts. All of this isn’t anecdotal either, as the Ultimate Team mode across all of EA’s titles made the company a whopping $1.49 billion last year, which is 28% of the entire company’s total revenue. 

Source: EA Sports
A glimpse of Madden 21’s Ultimate Team mode

Overall, Madden 21 is one of the worst games I have quite possibly ever played. The majority of it is lazily copy pasted from Madden 20, and features that aren’t like the Pro Bowl are features that were in earlier Maddens but were removed and are now being added back. The user score of 0.2 honestly seems a little bit too high and if it weren’t for there being no competition in the football video game industry, I highly doubt anyone would buy this game.