What are the most positive takeaways you had after playing the Madden 21 beta?
Josh Houtz: To say I was pleasantly surprised with the Madden 21 beta would be an understatement. Graphically, the game looks fantastic. And the time EA spent to improve presentation does not go unnoticed. Now, players will interact with their teammates and coaches on the sideline. Then, of course, there’s the new celebration system. To my surprise, it is not incredibly over-utilized and only allows players to celebrate at the right moments.
But for me, the gameplay upgrades stood out most.The right stick finally feels responsive and allows players to cut and move like they should. Playing defensive line feels improved, and the new pass-rush additions make the battle in the trenches a little more critical if you do decide to spend your time usering in that area. Running backs also seemed to wait patiently for a hole to open and felt like their real-life counterparts.
However, my favorite of all of these improvements came in the passing game. Quarterbacks can now make throws while being hit, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Connecting on a crucial pass on third down that in previous games would’ve triggered an animation and resulted in a sack was rewarding. But I also had so many throws go wrong. It all depends on the timing of the hit.
Overall, Madden 21’s beta had more than I expected to like, and from a gameplay perspective I’m more excited now for the August 28 release than I was previously.
Kevin Scott: I found a lot to like about the Madden 21 beta. First up, major overhauls like how the new pass rushing mechanics finally give you more control in the trenches to some of the finer details like the way running backs now are able to catch screen passes without losing all of their momentum stood out here.
But to me, the best thing about the beta was the way that the animations have been refined to be more fluid and realistic. There aren’t nearly as many awkward herky-jerky lurches from players or unnatural movements where bodies twist and contort in ways that seem to defy physics, especially during collisions. This improved movement is especially apparent when trying to make moves with ball carriers. Jukes don’t feel like as much of a “now you see me, now you don’t” magic trick as they were in ’20. Instead, they now feel more like a dynamic but organic change of direction.
As a whole, it feels like it’s more integral to use your entire arsenal of moves and also use the right move for the right situation. At the same time, it also feels harder to consistently pull off these moves.
Now thanks to a change in controls, I just have to remember to not hurdle when I’m trying to truck for that extra yard.
TJ Henderson: There were two things that really stood out to me. The first was how interesting it suddenly was to play defensive line. By adding a set number of possible attempts and returning pass rush moves to the right stick, there was an element of intensity there that simply hasn’t existed in a long time. On some downs, it may actually become a viable choice for many players who have been locked on middle linebacker for years.
The second came at the end of my final game where I won with my receiver catching an out route a couple of yards from the end zone. After making the catch, he had the presence of mind to stay in bounds, turn around and get low underneath a tackle as he reached the ball over the goal line to break the plane. It was a ‘wow’ moment.
We’ll have another roundtable later today discussing the biggest negative takeaways we had after playing the beta.