Madden NFL 21
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"Gameplay? Who cares. Franchise Mode? Who cares. Career Mode? WHO CARES!?"— SOFTDRINKTV in the "Ultimate Team RUINED Madden" Video
"I hope the NFL will one day demand a better product from EA."
Madden NFL 21 is an American football video game based on the National Football League (NFL), developed by EA Tiburon and published by EA Sports. It is an installment of the long-running Madden NFL series.
Why It Was Benched
- Once again, the Frostbite engine is a poor fit for Madden NFL. The engine is good for first-person shooters, but not for physical sports like American football.
- Many glitches, such as slow menus, long loading times, missing or rainbow textures and many more bugs were reported by many players at launch, likely because due to being developed remotely.
- One infamous display glitch has the Houston Texans use the Tennessee Titans' logo, and the Titans used the Minnesota Vikings' logo. Similar glitches include the names of two players being mixed and presented as if it was a single player in one of the Franchise mode prompts and some players who have been in the NFL franchise for multiple years being registered as rookies for reward purposes. Also, the Seattle Seahawks' name was incorrectly displayed as SEA ACKS.
- Also, some players who moved teams for the 2020 NFL season, or who are on teams that changed their uniform design for the 2020 season, have their jerseys photoshopped on their Superstar/X-Factor art to reflect on their new team/uniform for the season, with some having been photoshopped poorly.
- The main cause for the team logo glitch for the AFC South teams was most likely as a result of the Washington Football Team retiring their controversial Redskins name, which led to EA having to update Washington's NFL team's uniform, stadium and logo to reflect on the change from the Redskins. Washington's team is still not in alphabetical order.
- Terrible hip hop/rap only soundtrack that is worse than the previous years' soundtracks with only 18 songs (plus one added in the September 2020 update), mainly from no-name rappers. Also, actual NFL players such as Baltimore Ravens safety DeShon Elliott (with a reply from quarterback/cover athlete Lamar Jackson), Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson and Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst tweeted their dislike for the soundtrack.
- However, you can mute this entire playlist by unchecking all songs in EA Trax and sideloading Spotify.
- Franchise Mode has little to no updates and is called Classic Franchise in-game.
- Ultimate Team is where most of the effort is going to, as EA mostly earns their money from players buying the premium Points currency, and using the points to buy packs, which many gamers continue to do as they are desperate on getting the best MUT cards.
- Face of the Franchise is even worse than the previous year.
- The voice acting is extremely cheesy.
- You play four college matches in Face of the Franchise.
- Bad story.
- Due to the aforementioned glitches, this game feels rushed as EA had to develop this game while working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and release it before the start of the 2020 NFL Season, which also caused the early end of the previous season's MUT content.
- In some earlier versions of the game, some players had the incorrect headshots such as the cover athlete Lamar Jackson not using his actual portrait in the beta version of the game.
- Some players were rated a bit too high or low, with Pittsburgh Steelers edge linebacker T.J. Watt, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge linebacker Shaquil Barrett, despite having great 2019 seasons, should actually be at least 90 OVR instead of the mid-high 80s.
- Unlike in previous recent Madden years, the achievements for earning legacy points as a created player/coach is now restricted to Face of the Franchise, likely to prevent simulating and using a roster that boosts all the players in one team to 99 OVR to farm Xbox Gamerscore/PlayStation Trophies.
- The Yard is also infested with cosmetic microtransactions.
- The cover art in every edition is very ugly, likely due to EA being unable to do a proper cover photoshoot with Lamar Jackson due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it feel like it came from r/crappydesign and look like they were made in Microsoft PowerPoint.
- Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback added in the September 2020 update as a Free Agent, was given an 81 OVR rating, which is overrated as he was out of the league for 4 years. It is also evident that he was added as a source of pandering due to the movement that is going on in the United States.
- The Level Packs, unlike previous years, which had coin purchasable packs for a selectable lower OVR card, are now only a single premium pack that can only be bought with the premium Points currency, therefore, making the Level Packs more of a money vacuum.
- An update in late November 2020 increased the prices of the premium level packs, like the Level 61 and 66 premium packs being increased to 900 Points, encouraging players to spend more money on Points.
- EA defended their decision to increase the level packs, with KRAELO saying this is a business decision, and MaddenNFLDirect saying that it is imbalancing the in-game economy in MUT as it was artificially inflating Coin pricing of items in the auction house, making it more difficult for all players to obtain those items.
- The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions are not much of an upgrade, with the only notable new features being "Next Gen Stats" and yet stuff like graphics and simulation speed have not significantly improved.
- Hundreds of players have not had their faces scanned in-game.
- Team Diamonds, which were featured in Madden NFL 20's Ultimate Team, returned to MUT 21, with fan favorite past players from each team being seen for the first time in Madden since their retirement. Also, the Team of the Week program now features legends as TOTW Heroes and The 50 (a promo similar to the NFL 100 program from last year), which features past NFL players who influenced the Madden franchise.
- If you run a theme team, the level master (WR Andre Johnson), MUT Master (Sam Mills), team diamond master (Barry Sanders), all the 4 team captains and free agency masters Dak Prescott and J. J. Watt get team chemistry for all the 32 NFL teams instead of the just the teams they actually played on.
- More amount of 99 OVR cards in Ultimate Team, when compared to the previous season's lackluster content.
On June 16, 2020 (originally intended for June 1, 2020, but delayed due to the George Floyd protests), the trailer for Madden NFL 21 was released and panned by reviewers and gamers, who noted no new apparent changes to previous installments and called the game "a $60 roster update". A few days later on June 30, 2020, EA announced some new features to the franchise mode, which were also lamented. Users claim that no changes have been made to the franchise mode in recent years, and took to Twitter to express their frustration. The hashtag "#FixMaddenFranchise" became the most-viewed on Twitter in the United States on July 1, 2020, with over 100,000 tweets in 24 hours.
Upon release, the game received an overwhelmingly negative response from Metacritic users, who review bombed the game's entry. Screen Rant wrote that players were "upset with the lack of changes, the continued gaming bugs that weren't fixed from past installments, and EA's repeated use of microtransactions." For two years, Madden NFL 21 for the PS4 had the lowest user rating on Metacritic, before getting tied with Diablo Immortal for the PC. Several days after the game's release, the hashtag "#NFLdropEA" was trending on Twitter, with users calling for the NFL to opt-out of its exclusive rights deal with EA Sports.
Despite all of the negative reception, Madden 21 was reported to have sold better than Madden 20.