Last year, EA introduced a new multiplayer game mode titled “The Yard” in Madden 21, and as with everything Madden, fans expressed their displeasure and happiness. Many couldn’t figure out why these resources were spent creating The Yard while other modes (like Connected Franchise) were untouched. Then there was another sect of fans who were happy to play the mode and give it a chance.
Admittedly, it was a frustrating mode for me at first. But once I wiped the tears from my eyes, I took the time to get acclimated to The Yard. In general, I enjoyed what I played (when the mode worked). Here’s a snippet from my Madden 21 The Yard impressions article.
“In short, The Yard might only be the rookie QB hoping to get a chance in 2020 right now. But if my early impressions are any indication — and EA can build upon The Yard’s core gameplay — I don’t see any reason why it can’t be a long-term starting QB for the foreseeable future.”
So, with an up-and-down rookie season in the books, what could Madden promise to get folks excited for the next generation of The Yard and Superstar KO?
Here’s everything we learned from Madden 22‘s The Yard and Superstar KO Gridiron Notes.
New Campaign, Stadiums, And SWAG
The first thing that jumped out at me was The Yard’s new campaign mode. In the announcement, EA says there will be four different chapters, each with its own set of unique stadiums, challenges, bosses, and of course, swag. Now at the core, all of this isn’t revolutionary. We’ve seen new swag, stadiums, and challenges in The Yard before. But to have unique challenges specific to each region and then still have to defeat a boss is cooler when tied to the ability to then unlock those players. You’ve now got my attention in a wait-and-see kind of way.
Adding bosses is an intriguing concept. It gives players an objective to strive for, and hopefully, the difficulty and unique game modes make it challenging. There’s a lot of potential here, but when I heard this news, the first question that ran through my mind was, would Ben “Big Ben” Roethlisberger be the final boss in London? The answer is no, which was a little disheartening. Instead, you will have to battle Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Defeat the final boss — in this case, Patrick Mahomes — and you will add that player to your team. So, maybe it’s better we weren’t playing for Roethlisberger after all. Defeating a boss unlocks the next location and challenges.
Each location will have its own unique challenges, rules, and hurdles to overcome. This, in all honesty, sounds like something we needed in The Yard but didn’t know we needed in The Yard. It feels like something more or less ripped out of an old Street game, and that’s not a bad thing.
And although I mentioned having Maddenitis in the past, I really am excited to dive right in here. In part, I want to do this because I want to build my player up as quickly as I can, but I’m also trying to unlock some of the new features and stadiums.
Speaking of locations, here’s what stadiums are in the game as of now:
- Green Bay
- Nike HQ
- Military Base
Will Tua Tagovailoa be the gym leader for the new Hawaii stadium?
Aaron Rodgers might be the guy in Green Bay, but what if it was Davante Adams or Aaron Jones? Maybe we even see legends at some point in this game mode. Dan Marino? I don’t know, but the overall concept is promising and should add some longevity to the game mode — as should the new campaign mode.
Also, new to things this year, gamers will have the opportunity to auto-draft. This is nice for those who want to hop into the action as quickly as possible, but I think if I’m investing this much time into The Yard already, I’d have much more fun rolling with my handpicked squad. Then again, it may add a different type of challenge/intrigue to the game mode.
Swag is nothing more than an incentive to give folks purpose to play. But in reality, most of it gets the “meh, that’s cool” treatment. With that said, the London gear Patrick Mahomes is rocking looks pretty awesome.
Player Classes And Unified Progression
New to Madden 22 this year is player classes. So instead of me sitting here and introducing them one by one, here’s where I reference EA’s latest Gridiron Notes.
Classes play a huge role in Madden NFL 22. Class Progression carries over between The Yard and Face of the Franchise this year, meaning all of the work you put in on the field in either mode carries over to the other.
Here are the classes EA discussed in the release:
- Mojo: Inspired by players like Jalen Ramsey. Excels at the cornerback and wide receiver position.
- The Freak: Inspired by players like Chase Young and Von Miller. A wrecking ball at outside linebacker and halfback.
- Goliath: Inspired by players like Travis Kelce and Trent Williams. A versatile class combining the skills of a tight end, offensive lineman, and middle linebacker.
- Hitman: Inspired by players like Harrison Smith and Jamal Adams. A deep bombing safety and quarterback.
The unified progression is cool for those who want to carry over from Face of the Franchise. But ultimately, adding different classes gives gamers more objectives to strive for. It adds an RPG-style element to the game mode. It also might change how some gamers approach these two game modes. For me, I had already intended on starting a FotF with a linebacker. Should I then plan on being primarily a running back?
It will be interesting to see how these different classes and abilities transfer from one game mode to the next. EA does need to figure out a way to better tie together offline and online progression (like NBA 2K, minus the excessive microtransactions) so this is a step in the right direction.
Superstar KO, Live Events, And More
Outside of potential, The Yard’s campaign mode presents news that players can now use live NFL rosters to play 3 vs. 3 online with gamers worldwide, which has me feeling euphoric. Ignore the potential it could bring to the competitive side of Madden. Being able to hop online with two of your friends and talk smack while trying to lead your favorite football team to glory should be fun.
Obviously, there will be some kinks that need to be worked out. And I say that because expecting 3 vs. 3 to work flawlessly, as we can all attest to, is the easiest way to be let down (playing with friends in The Yard last year was already a mess at times). But the potential that this could have and the unique ways the community may implement this feature (online game modes, tournaments, streams, etc.) should be fun to watch.
Live events are new challenges and events EA promises to add throughout the year. The first of these is a five-game gauntlet vs. “Pro Bowl competition” in London. This is going to be what ultimately keeps people coming back again and again (besides online competition), so it will be very important for these to be worthwhile. In addition, new game modes will also be coming to KO this season.
Overall, I can’t wait to squad up and compete against some of the best Madden players. Maybe we can even get an Operation Sports roster going.
I know I said it in my United We Rise article, but ultimately what will make or break The Yard or any game mode in Madden 22 is the game’s core gameplay. And, again, for the first time in a long time, the gameplay is at least trying to look and feel like what we watch on Sundays.
Before this news, I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d give The Yard or Superstar KO another season. After all, I liked the attempt, but at times it just felt disconnected. However, after EA’s latest Gridiron Notes, I can officially say I am excited for the new additions to The Yard, and I’m absolutely ecstatic for the potential 3 vs. 3 multiplayer games using my beloved Miami Dolphins.
What are your thoughts on EA’s The Yard and Superstar KO announcement?