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.
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.
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.