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Madden 21 Beta: The Most Negative Takeaways

madden 21 beta negative impressions

Madden NFL 21

Madden 21 Beta: The Most Negative Takeaways

What are the most negative takeaways you had after playing the Madden 21 beta?

Kevin Scott: It may seem like there are bigger issues to worry about, especially for anyone who plays exclusively online, but the CPU AI still showcases the kind of inexplicable decision-making that can completely kill immersion by not resembling reality in the slightest. It’s nice to see CPU QBs throwing the ball downfield more than they have in the past, but it’s the CPU coaches who really could use some work if they’re ever going to resemble actual humans. Play-calling is one area where I would tick the “Needs Improvement” box.

madden-21-f14

I played one game where the opposing team got the ball back in my territory with around 45 seconds left in the half and timeouts remaining. This team chose to run the ball, not use a timeout and let the clock expire without making any real attempt to get into field goal range.

The CPU also can’t seem to get the victory formation right. I was down double digits in one game and had no timeouts left, but the CPU was still running stretch plays on first down with under two minutes remaining. This isn’t rocket science, it’s basic math. There’s no excuse for getting something that easy wrong.

madden 21

Josh Houtz: One of my biggest concerns going into the Madden 21 beta was whether the defense would play second fiddle to the offense. After all, every year we see improvements to the passing and run game, and sometimes we don’t see the defense get enough improvements to counter these additions. I remain concerned about this imbalance after playing the beta.

Yes, EA made minor improvements to the pass rush and zone responsibilities, but the defense still feels like they are at a disadvantage each and every time the ball is snapped. Defensive backs and safeties look lost in coverage, and I frequently watched them struggling to cover even the unlikeliest of wide receivers. Linebackers look even worse in coverage. It shouldn’t be nearly impossible for a defense to cover Mecole Hardman or Miles Boykin — I mean no disrespect to those two either.

It would also be nice to have the ability to assign defensive players to cover specific offensive playmakers. In addition, it still feels like running backs can pick up 3-5 yards on nearly every carry, which is a little terrifying considering the meta we just had for ’20. On top of that, opposing QBs find the open receivers within seconds of the ball being snapped.

When it comes to playbooks, while we get new offensive plays each season, defensive playbooks don’t feel like they’re changing nearly as much. In short, before the game releases on August 28, EA needs to hone in on the defensive side of the football. As of now, teams will need to score 50-plus points a game to compete both online and vs. the CPU. Maybe they can tweak some sliders or figure out a last-minute fix, but for now the offense has the upper hand.

Feel free to add on with your biggest concerns/negative takeaways after playing the beta.

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  1. On Defense is very frustrating to me : man coverage is horrible.. Safety and Cornerback are lost on any plays.. i played as Ravens against Chiefs on all star difficulty.. Patrick Mahomes had insane stats : 31-30 for Att-Comp : 96%.  it not worth 60 bucks on day one
    It's easy to agree with their takes. Running the ball is still too easy for the user. The blocking as a whole in the game needs a rework. There are pretty animations along the line and some plays look good, but overall the line play is just not where it should be. The OL still gets too much push. A hole clogging DL isn't really a thing still as the only real way for a DT to slow the run game down in Madden is to shed a block quickly and make the tackle themselves. I would like to see Madden reach a point where the trenches look and feel like a physical battle.
    I want to see interior defensive linemen that have impacts in the running game constantly without ever shedding block. Guys that require double teams and limit the amount of push the OL gets or even push their man into the backfield themselves forcing the run play to be blown up without insta-shed being the reason why.
    OL logic is also still mess. I absolutely hate seeing my pulling players splitting defenders because they seemed to get overwhelmed and blocked nobody because they couldn't figure out who to block at all. I also hate seeing the open field blockers because they still seem to greatly struggle making the smartest block. It's infuriating that in 2020 we still see OL that are in the open field with you and there is 1 or 2 players that have the angle to stop you, but the linemen decide to turn around and go block a trailing player that had no real shot at doing much.
    I don't know what is the cause of the mental struggles with the OL, but I hope the new generation allows EA to fix it. I don't know if their logic is too complex which results in the OL getting overwhelmed and blocking nobody, or if the issue is just some type of calculation error that results in them not recognizing the real threats per play.
    One other thing I hate seeing the OL do is if you drop back into pass protection, the LT takes the end, the C gets the DT, and the LG is sitting there not touching anyone yet. Instead of them assisting with one of the two OL by his side, he will sometimes do nothing at all which is irritating, but what I absolutely hate seeing even more is when they have eyes in the back of their head and they will turn around and cover ground quick enough to pick up the free runners on the other side of the line. That's even worse than them not helping either the LT or C. At no point should the LG be able to cover so much ground that he is on the outside shoulder of the RG or even RT making a block to protect the QB. It's very confusing as to why they are able to make those blocks, but constantly struggle to pick up the correct defender when pulling or lead blocking in the open field.
    Another issue I hope to see ironed out is that Lamar Jackson was a great running QB until I spied/contained him. When I ran those plays he broke and would revert to NCAA 14 Scrambling QB mode and too often did he just take off into the back of the RT or into the arms of the DL on that side of the play for easy sacks. I don't know what causes that, but when I didn't spy or contain, he'd take off running to the right, to the left, up the middle, etc. and rip off big gains. However, when I ran a play to contain his running ability it would break him and cause him to always run right and run into the traffic just like the scrambling QBs in NCAA 14.
    My last big issue from the beta is the pass coverage and the awful 2-man animations. It is time EA implements true coverage techniques that reflect real life and to get rid of the awful 2-man animations that constantly break physics and disregard all momentum and whatnot. I hate seeing two guys running full speed on a deep ball immediately jump up vertically completely disregarding all of the momentum they were carrying, I hate seeing a WR go into an animation that causes him to somehow be at the apex of his jump, but then jarringly get even higher into the air as if he was Mario and double jumped. The 2-man animations were a great idea, but they wee horribly executed. And DB's in the game really don't play with proper technique. They don't understand what safety help is and how to play off of it. They basically mirror the WR in video-game fashion and not with proper technique of a real life DB.
    This is the one area that if EA ever took notes from 2k8 this is where they should look. In that game the DB's use real technique, the backpedal properly, position themselves properly, mirror properly, in man coverage they are actually programmed to stare at the WR and only when the WR turns for the ball do they look back and even then they don't always locate it in time to make a play if they are in position. They understand shading inside and out, they play to the strengths of the playcall knowing when a safety is helping them over the top or inside. They trail properly when the backers have the inside help. These are all things Madden needs to have done and the game would immediately go up a tier or two in the gameplay department, even with all of the other issues I talked about earlier.
    Rebuild the block, rebuild the coverage, fix the scrambling QB logic and Madden is a heck of a game on the field even with other issues like the inability to pick up loose fumbles or the passing game still feeling tethered to the WR more than to the route, or the lack of physics felt in tackles anymore.
    This article pretty sums up where I ended up with the beta. Defense leaves way too much to be desired. At times the user feels completely helpless and as if what play is selected really won't matter anyway, since the coverage is so loose and lacking in awareness.
    Until EA implements a passing mechanic that requires end user input for the location of the pass (e.g. passing cursor which you control with the right stick for example) playing defense is always going to be totally dependent on AI coding and how the CPU/AI controlled players respond....and at this point, no one is happy with how that works. I've been hearing people complain (and rightfully so) about bad DB AI for literally decades. IMO it's because the passing mechanic/concept in Madden football is flawed. The QBs throw deadly accurate passes nearly every time with a simple push of a button only to see that pass morph though a defender (in some cases) or the defender not nothing to respond to the pass. It's "Maddening". The user experience in this scenario is aggravating beyond imagination and it's the reason I don't play the game anymore and won't buy it this year. I'm convinced now more than ever that it'll never change. If the user was forced to control the location of the pass there would exist the possibility of a bad or inaccurate pass, which would alleviate the dependence of spot on DB AI to play defense. And I'm not talking about a randomly coded inaccurate pass that happens for no reason which is what happens now from time to time...that's equally frustrating on the offensive side. 
    Simply put, put the user in control of the action and require skilled based user input aided by player attributes to make those actions easier or more difficult. Tom Bradys short/mid range passing cursor would be easier to control (for example) than Can Newtons. Cam Newtons deep ball would get there quicker (with more pace) than Tom Bradys....doesn't seem like that difficult of a concept to implement. But EA would have to change the entire mindset of their product and change that from a online slot machine /gambling application (Ultimate Team) to a mindset focused on the end user experience. And we all know that's not gonna happen anytime soon. 
    The thing that kills this game for me is the same big problem madden has had for a long time and it was mentioned in this article. Bad AI programming. The fact that the AI dont have concept of time and score kills it IMO since im not really an online player. I have to help the cpu beat me lol
    Hshaw810
    The thing that kills this game for me is the same big problem madden has had for a long time and it was mentioned in this article. Bad AI programming. The fact that the AI dont have concept of time and score kills it IMO since im not really an online player. I have to help the cpu beat me lol

    Yep. When you have competitors whose sole game-plan is exploiting the game mechanics, you know it is bad programming. The lack of AI players awareness of a huge driver for many faults.
    So another year of using my timeouts to help the CPU late in the game/half. Or having the CPU run a draw on the last play of the game in a hail mary situation. Defense does need to be tightened up alot. 70% completion percentage by qbs is generally a bad game. Even with qb accuracy lowered its quite easy to complete a really high percentage of passes.
    #fixmaddenfranchise
    The negative takeaways resemble underlying issues that have existed for years now and it appears like EA has no real path to a solution.
    The CPU AI is especially concerning. Especially for someone like me that plays exclusively solo franchises. It really hurts the immersion when they can't even fix basic CPU play calling issues. And then fix all of the CPU AI issues off the field when it comes to managing teams.
    Zone and man coverage is still broken.
    Zones are still stop drops that don’t account for guys coming and going like real zones should. Then on top of that there is no reaction from guys in coverage until the ball is about to be caught. The whole point of zone is that it lets you keep an eye on the qb and BREAK when he starts his motion not after the catch has been mad.
    Man coverage, yea I Dk what’s wrong with it besides bad programming. Tell your CB to play his man inside, watch said CB be absolutely smoked by a slant, look at the replay and the CB is turning his body outside towards the sideline when the wr makes his break. Also lockdown man corners aren’t a thing bc they can’t even cover the worst WRs. I’m not talking about Julio Jones working Tyrann Mathieu, but when it’s Boykin from the Ravens it’s a problem.
    The most negative thing I took away is the lack of defense, I input the same sliders I was using for M20, and I could not believe the difference I was witnessing.
    There was pretty much no defense whatsoever, and the robo qb was alive and well also, the M20 sliders I use are called "real" and I got them from the community downloads, and they play an absolutely great game on M20, so that is why I was excited to load them in to the beta, only to witness disappointment.
    Other areas of gameplay can be adjusted through sliders (i hope...lol), I had lowered cpu qb acc to 5 and this was on AP, and still had Brady throwing dots on my defense....well I should say swiss cheese defense.
    I know it sounds like I'm really complaining here, but I really did enjoy the beta, it's just the lack of defense was a letdown(imo).
    Maybe if the defensive sliders were more responsive it would be much easier to dial in our own personal preference, but I had jacked them up to 75 to absolutely no difference in my defenses coverage.
    SolidSquid
    Zone and man coverage is still broken.
    Zones are still stop drops that don’t account for guys coming and going like real zones should.

    You already have a solution to the spot drop zone issue. Stop using them. You can play any base coverage in the game with match principles. You don't need to make a single hot route. You can play Cover 2 Sink, Cover 3 Match, Cover 3 Buzz Match, Cover 3 Cloud (although to my knowledge these are all CB Fire blitzes), Cover 6, Cover 9, Quarters, and Palms out of Nickel using any book in the game.
    Most of the books also include a few boutique plays like Pinch Zone 4 (4-3 Odd) or Nickel Dog Meg (Nickel 2-4-5 Dbl A Gap).
    stinkubus
    You already have a solution to the spot drop zone issue. Stop using them. You can play any base coverage in the game with match principles. You don't need to make a single hot route. You can play Cover 2 Sink, Cover 3 Match, Cover 3 Buzz Match, Cover 3 Cloud (although to my knowledge these are all CB Fire blitzes), Cover 6, Cover 9, Quarters, and Palms out of Nickel using any book in the game.
    Most of the books also include a few boutique plays like Pinch Zone 4 (4-3 Odd) or Nickel Dog Meg (Nickel 2-4-5 Dbl A Gap).

    Now how do we get the CPU to understand this and avoid calling the broken plays?
    General Statement
    The gameplay in general favors human vs human, not human versus the cpu. Human controlled players yield the best results for offense and the defensive line.
    The CPU in General
    CPU AI isn’t the best for moving the ball up the field or playing zone defenses. Playing man defense is the way to go. Zone AI is poor. The new defensive zone adjustments are nice, but it’s just mess when it comes to zone AI coverage.
    Morphing
    In my version of the beta the morphing of players on 50/50 balls was bad. It was very noticeable in replays and slightly during gameplay. There was a pick 6 where the DB morphed right through the WR for the pick and score. It looked wonky during the play as well. This is something I haven’t seen mentioned much. Maybe is was just my version of the beta.
    CPU Offensive AI
    The offensive skill position players don’t seem to know that they should veer away from defenders and keep trying to score. They should head for the wide open running lanes but more often than not they head right into the easiest path for the defender to make the tackle. Where are the cut backs through the wide open whole? I’m not saying it should happen every play but once in a while would be sufficient. The QB and RB seem to only head in the direction of the play art for the most part. There aren’t a whole lot of freelance running decisions. Lamar Jackson seems to make the best running lane decisions but he is still limited to what seems to be a very small number of programmed running lanes.
    Sideline Awareness
    Skill position players still have issues when running any type of out route near the sidelines. The bottom line is they need better sideline awareness.
    Human controlled defensive players (LB/DBs)
    The change of direction for controlling defensive players is too slow, it needs to be sped up. The controlled player will move slow or sluggishly.
    RPO plays
    There were a lot of penalties called for a man downfield. These happened way too often with split second passes right after the decoy handoff.
    And that concludes my main negative points for the Madden 21 closed beta.
    Ncaa 14 to Madden 25 draft classes for me still... every comment I've read only tells me that we are going to get Covid 19 related excuses on next year's write up as to why they are going to add a bunch of "new" elements to Madden 22, which are going to be items they pulled from Maddens of old. If John Madden still had his wits about himself, he would take his name off the product.  The way he refused to put his name on the product back when they were going to make a non 11-on-11 game.  When the original code writer for Madden sued for royalty payments,  he won the case and got royalty payments for Madden games from 1990-2015+ that means they haven't moved from codes that date back to the beginning of the franchise (legacy issues). That's just a testimony to how half-assed EA has been.  
    stinkubus
    You already have a solution to the spot drop zone issue. Stop using them. You can play any base coverage in the game with match principles. You don't need to make a single hot route. You can play Cover 2 Sink, Cover 3 Match, Cover 3 Buzz Match, Cover 3 Cloud (although to my knowledge these are all CB Fire blitzes), Cover 6, Cover 9, Quarters, and Palms out of Nickel using any book in the game.
    Most of the books also include a few boutique plays like Pinch Zone 4 (4-3 Odd) or Nickel Dog Meg (Nickel 2-4-5 Dbl A Gap).

    While this is good, it doesn’t eliminate the issue of CPU defenders not reacting to passes being thrown. I’ll watch a hook curl zone let a guy stand wide open. It’s like they don’t recognize threats in their zones
    canes21
    Now how do we get the CPU to understand this and avoid calling the broken plays?

    They already make liberal use of them.
    If you wanted a game plan that used nothing but I hear there are PC mods for that.
    stinkubus
    They already make liberal use of them.
    If you wanted a game plan that used nothing but I hear there are PC mods for that.

    Mods are great and all, but the entire point is we'd like the plays and features in game to work properly out of the box and have the CPU not be handicapped even more because they don't understand what plays are broken and what plays are not.
    Elite Team Killer
    It can be done in the PC version via mods. Unfortunately for console, you're screwed.

    As my reply above says, mods are great, but mods should not be relied upon to fix issues with functions in the game properly. Mods should be used to enhance the product by building onto what is there or doing fine tuning. Non-matching zone plays being potentially broken is a huge deal for a football game and that's something that EA needs to fix, not a modder. It is great that modders can fix what EA does not, but that is not the point of these posts. EA needs to be fixing their own game and making sure it works properly on all platforms.
    The poor CPU clock management and lack of situational awareness in general has frustrated me for years. It is not something they would have to reprogram every year. EA could have invested some time back in 1995 in half decent CPU logic, and then just rode that for the next 3 decades with periodic tweaks. But EA has just never been interested.....over 30 iterations of the game, and not once has this gotten on their radar.
    I muatve been one of the best defensive players on the beta as no one scored over 28 points versus me the whole time. (played about 20 games inclue 2 games vs all madden cpu teams)
    The biggest negative is fear - fear that the number of votes complaining of player speed, change of direction and/or user speed will result in a regression back to M20 speed. Even though M20 speed was slower than M19 speed, there was still an unrealistic speed level, especially in change of direction.
    In the M21 beta, block sheds were smooth. In M20 the block shed resulted in a type of slingshot effect benefiting the pass rusher. I hope that does not come back in the final release of M21. The slingshot effect was not in the beta.
    Offensive line awareness/logic is still underwhelming. But it is improved since M20, so props there.
    oneamongthefence
    Or having the CPU run a draw on the last play of the game in a hail mary situation. Defense does need to be tightened up alot. 70% completion percentage by qbs is generally a bad game. Even with qb accuracy lowered its quite easy to complete a really high percentage of passes.
    #fixmaddenfranchise

    HA! I thought I was the only one that did that.
    tuckermaine
    Can someone who has played the beta tell me if EA has slowed the game down to a more realistic pace?

    Imo yes in the beta. Players seemed to have more weight & momentum feel to them as well. Moving a D-lineman felt like a D-lineman especially pre-snap. Hope EA don't bend & change this at release. I think it is even needed more, but that's just me. I'll probably still have to edit the speed rating maybe or COD rating

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