Madden 23 devs promise ‘most polished version in a long time’ after years of buggy releases

Madden NFL has undeniably been stuck in a rut in this generation. Since the release of the Xbox Series X/S and PS5, EA’s long-running NFL sim has been consistently hovering around 65 on Metacritic. The complaints have been the same: unpolished, subdued presentation, and methods that have failed to keep pace with the competition.

Many fans trace Madden’s decline back to Madden 13, which formed the basic template for the current version of the series. Others go even further. Wherever it originated, it is hard to ignore the feeling of ill-health that has taken root in reviews, social media and elsewhere. EA has protested over the years that it is just a vocal minority, and that the series is actually doing quite well with the average player who isn’t extremely online. This year they are embracing it.

“As a game developer, especially on an annual game title, it’s not as rough as [needing] There’s a good filter, because there’s a reason these players are going to say whatever they want about the game, and you have to find out why,” senior producer Clint Oldenburg told IGN. That if there’s a hundred words that don’t tell you why, there might be one or two that will tell you why, and that’s what you’ve got to focus on to make sure you deliver the experience at its core. Are those players asking for it?

‘A bit too animation based’

Oldenburg and fellow producer Mike Mahar say they have gone through reviews and social media posts “line by line”, grouping bugs and other issues together and removing legitimate criticism from the general noise around annual sports games. try to solve. What EA Tiburon has come up with in response to all this criticism is basically to go back to the basics. It’s not an exciting approach on the face of it, but remove all common marketing hype terms like the confusingly capitalized “Fieldsense” and you’ll find what feels like a rebalancing of a very fundamental – and much needed – action field.

madden nfl 23 screen

In other words, EA is finally moving away from what has made Madden “Madden” for so long and into something that resembles real football. At its core is a desire to move away from gameplay that’s “a little too animation-based”—in the sense that you’re constantly gaming Madden’s mechanics every time you choose or throw a play.

“Our players tell us very strongly, their words, not ours, Madden has become a bit too animation-based, which means they feel they lose control at critical moments and for lack of a better time. Looking at quick-time events. Words,” Oldenberg says.

In Madden NFL parlance, this means moving away from the so-called money plays and structures that dominate YouTube every season with a “casual, organic, and natural” system. The defense has received the bulk of improvements, with a greater focus on gang tackle, pass coverage and quarterback control.

“I think, from a high level, the changes we’ve made this year to deep-field and near-congestion help tackle the money play problem, especially those deep-crossing routes. I already talked about in. We’ve added zone drift logic which gives us deep zoners awareness not to drift into the zone if they don’t have vertical danger so they can take advantage of that deep crossing route ,” says Oldenburg, referring to a pattern that has been devastatingly dominant over the years because of Madden’s various defensive backs. AI weirdness.

As a game developer, especially on an annual game title, it’s not as rough as you should have a good filter.


Oldenburg also talks about fixing formations such as gun bunches, which have become dominant over the years because of how easily they can be adjusted to open up larger sections of the field, as well as to extend plays. There are also prolific QB rollouts often used.

“We think we’ve seen a pretty good one this year,” Oldenburg says.

The feedback from beta so far reflects the impact of these changes. If Madden 22 was akin to backyard football, how easy it was to roll from a pocket and throw the ball into a wide open receiver while breaking corners or flats, then Madden 23 should prove a rude awakening to many players.

“I think it would probably be hazy for those of us to think that some of the expert level gamers in our community aren’t going to find any glitches in The Matrix, so to speak, but we can certainly play-for-play. ‘Feedback—for feedback, along with what we’ve heard so far to try to address it,’ says Mahar.

One way or another, it’s clear that most of the focus for Madden 23 this year is on rebalancing the gameplay. It’s a must – if the moment-to-moment gameplay isn’t fun, it doesn’t matter how much work goes into Franchise Mode or Madden Ultimate Team.

The real test is whether EA Tiburon can put out a polished game. Madden NFL has been heavily criticized in recent years for its strange bugs and glitches, which are teased endlessly on social media. To that end, Oldenburg says polish is a “top priority” in Madden 23, “especially from a gameplay perspective.”

EA Tiburon is hoping to catch the bug by using something called a “vision hook,” which uses a mix of bots and other technology to quickly reproduce troublesome problems. The Madden team is also allocating additional resources to fix bugs during production.

“We’re very confident that our game for Madden 23 is going to be the most polished version of Madden,” Oldenburg says. “What I wouldn’t say would be perfect, but I’m going to say that the team is still striving to reach perfection, as hard as it can be. That’s our goal. Polish is our top priority, and we We know that if our players believe that our game is a small experience, we cannot reach our goals.”

question mark remains

Elsewhere, Madden remains a question mark. The face of the franchise – Madden’s tutorial story mode – is dropping elements like its college football mode, while arcade modes like The Yard are only getting superficial upgrades, with resources instead going toward overhauling free agency in franchise mode. Huh.

Meanwhile, PC players continue to get short shifts. When asked why the PC version isn’t keeping pace with the console release, an EA spokesperson said, “We have a passionate group of players who enjoy Madden NFL on PC. It’s important to our team.” That the PC version of Madden becomes comparable to the current generation version, and we are working towards that in the future.”

When Madden 23 arrives later this month, it will be EA’s latest effort to firmly establish the franchise on current-generation consoles — and at the same time bring some shine to its faded legacy. Fans will be able to see for themselves if it’s a success when Madden launches into Early Access on Aug.

Cat Bailey is a senior news editor at IGN as well as the co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? DM him at @the_katbot.

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