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Madden 21 Guide: How to Get the Most Out of the Free Preview

madden 21 guide

Madden NFL 21

Madden 21 Guide: How to Get the Most Out of the Free Preview

So as of today, Madden NFL 21 is free for everyone on every platform until January 31. If you go to the digital store of your platform of choice, Madden should be there for download. This includes current-gen consoles, next-gen consoles, PC, and now even Google Stadia — which means you can also now play Madden on your phone. Now, we have not played the Google Stadia version as of yet, but we assume that version will be the current-gen/PC version. With that being said, we thought we would make a Madden 21 guide of sorts that fills you in on how to maximize your time during this free preview.

In addition, if you end up liking Madden during this free preview window, EA is offering a hefty discount on a premium version of the game. The Madden 21 Superstar Edition usually retails for about $80 and instead will be about $30 until February 8. This premium version gets you some Madden Ultimate Team stuff that is not as important with the mode being months old now (since tons of awesome cards now exist), but would still help you get your MUT team off the ground if you’re doing a bunch of solo challenges and so on.

As a reminder, Madden 21 is also a “dual entitlement” game, which means if you buy it on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you also get it on PS5 or Xbox Series X for “free” and also get to transfer over your MUT/franchise mode/The Yard progress.

Okay, now let’s hop into this primer.

Current-Gen Madden 21

current-gen Madden 21

Current-gen Madden 21 covers PS4, Xbox One, and PC (and we think Google Stadia). Our review of current-gen Madden 21 can be found here. At this point, we think it’s fair to say current-gen Madden 21 is the preferred Madden for a majority of more competitive folks and those who like the more arcade feel of Madden (in comparison to the next-gen version). We as an editorial staff like the gameplay in the next-gen version more, but we’ll get into why in the next-gen section.

In terms of everything that does not relate to gameplay and graphics, the two generations are the same. Any modes that exist on current gen also exist on next gen, and vice versa. When it comes to current gen, if you think you’re someone who will want to “mod” the game or customize it a bunch, then you certainly want to go the PC route. However, the mod community for Madden 21 is not very strong as the tools were more updated and maintained for Madden 20. So if you want to mod Madden, you’re still going to want to stick with getting a copy of Madden 20.

PS4 and Xbox One are indistinguishable from each other, so otherwise you’re good to hop in and play as you wish.

Next-Gen Madden 21

next-gen Madden 21

With next-gen Madden 21, you can read our review of the game here. You can also find our most updated thoughts on the game here — a recent patch improved the defensive secondary play, which was a big issue at launch.

When it comes to graphics, you can watch the video above to see how next gen compares to current gen. The graphical leap is somewhat noticeable on your massive HDTV, but the feel of the game between the two gens is the real difference maker at this point. The PS5/Xbox Series X version of the game is slower than current gen, and we think it’s a little more realistic due to the added weight of the players and how they move. This mostly comes down to improved foot planting that makes it so you can’t simply cut on a dime anymore. Again, not everyone loves this change — especially those very used to how Madden has played for years — but we think it’s a smart change for the future.

Everything else that’s in the next-gen version of the game that’s not in the current-gen version can be found here. You can also see how the presentation, arenas, and crowds/sidelines look now on next-gen consoles.

What To Do In Madden 21 Free Preview

madden 21 free preview

Gameplay

We always recommend jumping into the game first and getting a feel for things before you change anything. However, if you don’t feel like the game is hitting for you, then gameplay sliders might be worth checking out. In that case, we recommend Mike Lowe’s sliders for current gen and next gen (a full explanation of them can be found here), and you can see his most recent sliders here. You can also find various other sets of sliders on our forums.

In terms of ways to play the game, if you want to play the game more like what you see on TV, we recommend you use a “secret” broadcast camera that’s hidden in the game.

Otherwise, you can play Madden from the usual camera view and feel right at home.

Franchise Mode

madden 21 franchise mode

It may not be worth hopping into franchise mode during the first couple days with the game if you’re not going to stick with it. But if you do, the best way to enjoy franchise mode is by getting a roster from our forums. The official roster updates are solid, but using something like the TrueSim Roster Project from Cycloniac will add some longevity to the game after year one. Madden 21‘s progression system can still be a little spotty, so this helps alleviate some issues.

On top of that, since a new NCAA Football game is still missing from our lives, the best way to enjoy the draft is with a custom draft class. One of the best ones you can find is the Shotcallers fictional draft class as it provides more intrigue to the draft process. If you simply want realism, again, head to our forums for a draft class based on the folks projected to be coming to the NFL. In addition, if you do buy the game, we always have awesome community members who share their updated draft classes/rosters that come in post-NFL Draft in April.

As for the franchise mode itself, it’s still receiving updates, but it’s still a disappointing mode in the grand scheme of things. There is one more update coming before next year’s game is released, but it won’t be major enough to make you a believer if you are not already. If you don’t like what’s there when you check it out, just wait until next year’s game to check in again.

Madden Ultimate Team

madden-21-gp

MUT is the card-collecting mode in Madden 21. At this juncture, you’re going to be very behind, but this also means there’s a ton of single-player content to scope out. If you want a taste of multiplayer, I would do a MUT Draft because your team won’t be as outmatched there. The theme teams are very strong now at this point the season, and the content for the game basically peaks around the Super Bowl before sort of dwindling. If you get into MUT, you can catch up with people who have been playing for a couple months, but to do that you will probably need to spend some real money if you don’t want to grind a lot.

All in all, I would mostly ignore MUT unless you really want to play the single-player aspects of it, or you don’t mind being an underdog in a lot of your games.

The Yard

madden 21 the yard

The Yard is the new mode for Madden 21, and you can find our original thoughts on it here. Think of it like backyard football mixing with Blitz and NFL Street while still having rules. It’s a change of pace where your players are two-way athletes, and I do think everyone should at least check it out at least once. The mode is 6 on 6, but you can only play with two other friends if you want to indulge in some co-op of sorts. Basically, you cycle through the other three players, and so each of you controls two players on any given play.

The microtransactions here are more limited to aesthetics if you want to swag out your team, but this is something you can hop into and not feel totally overwhelmed in comparison to MUT.

Face Of The Franchise

face of the franchise improvements

This is the version of EA’s story mode/RPG for the year. We still don’t love it, but if you’re looking for a more linear way to play Madden on rails, then you can absolutely finish the first part of this mode during the free preview. You will get some narrative, be able to try out some mini games, and it’s not a bad way to play Madden 21 if you have not played the series in a couple years. It would not be where I spend my time initially, but modern sports games give you enough variety that I know some others might want to go here first.

Bottom Line

Madden 21 next gen vs. current gen

At this point in Madden 21‘s cycle, we absolutely think three days is enough time for you to get a feel for the game and decide if you want to stick with it or not. There are not a ton of gameplay patches that should occur after the Super Bowl, and we’re just waiting on one final franchise mode update before EA turns its focus to Madden 22. If you don’t want to buy the game now, there should be another discount after the Super Bowl, and usually EA puts Madden on its premium platform service (EA Play) in January or February.

However, since there’s a discount for the game ongoing until February 8, we assume Madden 21 will hit the EA Play service a little later than usual. But since EA Play is now a part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, on top of still being its own service, you will have a chance to play Madden 21 at some point in the somewhat near future for a monthly fee (on top of a bunch of other EA games) if you don’t want to pay for a retail/digital copy of Madden 21.

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  1. Ok. Found it on the app “free trail”.
    Now am I getting the PS4 version ? Do them have to go into the game and download/upgrade to the PS5 version ?
    lamoyou401
    anyone know how to download the ps5 free version?

    No clue.
    Mine says PS4 trail on my screen???
    How can I tell if I’m playing the PS5 version or the PS4 version ?
    This is a pretty confusing process. Almost at the point of just deleting and forgetting about it.
    I don’t think there is a PS5 free trial......
    Mintsa
    No clue.
    Mine says PS4 trail on my screen???
    How can I tell if I’m playing the PS5 version or the PS4 version ?
    This is a pretty confusing process. Almost at the point of just deleting and forgetting about it.
    I don’t think there is a PS5 free trial......

    What might be confusing is you can switch between versions of the game on the app itself on PS5 since it's a dual-entitlement game. You press what's usually the "start" button to go through the options on the dashboard -- if that's maybe tricky. But again, maybe just scope out the link above in the previous post.
    ChaseB
    What might be confusing is you can switch between versions of the game on the app itself on PS5 since it's a dual-entitlement game. You press what's usually the "start" button to go through the options on the dashboard -- if that's maybe tricky. But again, maybe just scope out the link above in the previous post.

    Thanks for the help Chase.
    I have no clue. Mine just says ps4 trial.
    Does the PS5 version have a specific thing about it that I know that I’m playing the next gen version ?? Lol.
    I know it was hard to tell....
    Mintsa
    Thanks for the help Chase.
    I have no clue. Mine just says ps4 trial.
    Does the PS5 version have a specific thing about it that I know that I’m playing the next gen version ?? Lol.
    I know it was hard to tell....

    Again, best bet is go to the dashboard and press start button on the app. It should tell you what version you're playing in that information panel that pops up.
    ChaseB
    Again, best bet is go to the dashboard and press start button on the app. It should tell you what version you're playing in that information panel that pops up.

    Yes. I did that. When I go to game into I can select PS4 trial or PS4 full game only.
    Nothing about PS5.......
    Maybe it’s a Canada thing ?
    This sucks, also far to complicated.
    This is getting deleted. Shame.
    Mintsa
    Yes. I did that. When I go to game into I can select PS4 trial or PS4 full game only.
    Nothing about PS5.......
    Maybe it’s a Canada thing ?
    This sucks, also far to complicated.
    This is getting deleted. Shame.

    I couldn’t get a ps5 version. I had to use the app cause the console wanted to charge. This is the worst part of ps5...getting ps5 games. I had mortal kombat for ps4 so I was entitled to ps5 and never figured that out either.
    i have an xbox one, and in the microsoft store shows Free Trial with EA Access, but i cant download because i don't have EA Access? am i missing something, or do you need EA Access to get free trial, if so, pointless 'free trial for everyone' and misleading
    I haven’t been able to play madden on ps5 even with the ea play trial. They claim they have a fix but won’t release it until the next title update. Sure does us ps5 owners a lot of good to have a free play weekend and not be able to play the ps5 version.
    Mintsa
    Yup. It’s a huge mess.
    Your right. I just don’t think they have a PS5 trial. Simple as that.

    Could be worse. I found the ps5 trial and downloaded it, but can’t get past the opening loading screen lol
    SkeeLo15
    Could be worse. I found the ps5 trial and downloaded it, but can’t get past the opening loading screen lol

    You sure it was even PS5 ?
    Like chase told me, if you click the start button on the app in the menu and go to game info it clearly says the PS4 version.
    Mintsa
    You sure it was even PS5 ?
    Like chase told me, if you click the start button on the app in the menu and go to game info it clearly says the PS4 version.

    100% the PS5 version. I downloaded both and am able to switch between the 2. I have no problem loading up and playing the PS4 version. But can’t get past the loading screen on the PS5 version.
    Anybody know if once you download it you can keep playing after the 31st? Like when MLB the Show 20 was free I was able to keep it and still play it now. 
    simcity24
    Anybody know if once you download it you can keep playing after the 31st? Like when MLB the Show 20 was free I was able to keep it and still play it now.*

    Not the same. Show '20 '19 was one of PS Plus's free games in October 2019 (just as Control and Destruction All-Stars are this month). Once you "purchase" those you get to keep them for as long as you're a playstation plus member.
    This is simply a weekend free trial that EA is running, as far as I understand it.
    I got the trial on EA play when it first came out and didn't really enjoy it. Playing it today for the first time in months... I can't believe how buggy the game still is even after all the patches.
    gameplay against CPU same garbage i prefer madden 20 with the Sabu gameplay mod for pc  4 hours of gameplay and i done already with this game,  slants cover are the same, CPU clock management and the end of half or game still a joke  the tackle way is so random that sometimes a big play comes from unreal miss tackles,  many times qb get sack by stupid animation like they don't throw away or they run backward cause all receivers are cover,  almost not QB scrambles,  the QB in all madden  mostly play short pass and  they end with hight complete % even bad qbs, franchise mode is a little  better but still far aways options to start enjoy in long term like nba 2k  have ,  i guess will never gonna have a   great nfl sim football game cause people still buying  even the improves are  ridiculous  and ea  have the money to keep the exclusive license 

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