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Madden 21 Next Gen: What Must Be Better Than Current Gen At Launch?

madden 21 next-gen

Madden NFL 21

Madden 21 Next Gen: What Must Be Better Than Current Gen At Launch?

With the emerging rumor that Madden NFL 21 won’t be there right at launch for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, the question becomes what needs to be better when Madden 21 next gen actually does come out? Even if many folks won’t really need to be “sold” on the game since current-gen owners will get a free upgrade to the next-gen version, in order to even be excited about playing Madden 21 again, what needs to be better?

Two videos from Eric Rayweather and Gutfoxx went through some of the problems they have with the game right now. Eric clearly discusses what he wants to see improved in Madden 21 next gen. Gutfoxx does not explicitly frame his critiques the same way, but he’s focused more on gameplay than Eric, and his criticisms are things that certainly could just be applied to next-gen Madden.

Madden 21 Next-Gen Improvements – Non-Gameplay Issues

Gutfoxx and Eric have some common ground here, so I want to start with those things. Both call out the servers as getting worse not better. This has been a trend the last couple years, and it’s weird to me because one thing EA could hang its hat on in the past in a general sense were the stability of the online servers. They were not perfect, but they were a strength in comparison to other sports games out there. EA has ceded some ground here since random disconnects are happening more often — on top of the more sinister stuff like disconnect glitches and all that nonsense. Online stability will be a key with next-gen Madden.

I’m not sure what next-gen Madden can really do to “improve” the servers other than just figure out how to improve overall stability, but maybe there’s some general architectural upgrades coming with the new hardware that will help here.

madden 21 next-gen

The modes themselves also just feel a little light this year. We already know all about the franchise mode complaints, so Eric does point out that whatever improvements do come to franchise mode this year need to be in the next-gen version the same day they come to the current-gen game.

On top of that, MUT content is not as fast and furious this year, and overall, the modes just feel under-serviced. Even with The Yard, which is still mostly a success, elements like being able to “play a friend” being absent makes the mode feel antiquated to Eric (and I agree). While I’m sure most of the focus is going towards physics, graphics and gameplay, there still need to be some logical quality-of-life improvements made to the modes to give folks some hope for the future.

Madden 21 Next-Gen Improvements – Gameplay Issues

With gameplay, I think blocking is one of the first things that comes to mind, and it’s heavily featured in both these videos. Beyond just bugs/glitches like disengage blocking being a strong way to get pressure, and the QB draw starting to become overly powerful yet again, there’s a fatigue that comes from longstanding blocking issues in Madden.

It’s a balancing issue as well as Gutfoxx mentions multiple times. The run game is still very powerful, and so if the developers do fix blocking without also fixing reciprocal defensive issues, then we’re still not going to be in a great place. This means making weight matter more so safeties don’t just move big offensive linemen out of the way, but it also means linebackers can’t have poor run recognition when they’re in zones. It also means defensive linemen shouldn’t always be pushed back on runs at the start of the play since then the entirety of whether you stop a run is based on shedding or not.

madden 21 next-gen improvements

Lastly, when it comes to the run game, my favorite point Gutfoxx makes goes back to how ball carriers approach the traffic jam at the line of scrimmage. Madden’s physics give runners a boost if they just full-speed ahead into the backs of blockers since then they generally just slide off the blockers and continue forward. But if we got some real physics updates where the ball carrier stumbles or falls backwards after running into the back of an offensive lineman while going full speed, we might see some more nuance to the run game. If you have to try and navigate through the pile rather than be rewarded for simply holding turbo and barreling ahead, then read-and-react skill could start to push back against basic muscle memory.

madden 21 film study

Obviously, stuff like too many drops by both receivers and defenders are called out here as well, but I personally think if Madden is able to make one key tenet of football seem like a true next-gen step up, that’s a big accomplishment in this truncated year where most of the audience should be getting a “free” double dip if they’re already playing on PS4 or Xbox One. I can’t think of a better area where that improvement would really prove something than with the offensive/defensive line interactions and the physics collisions that emerge out of that.

Do you folks think another area of gameplay makes more sense than that to put a lot of focus on at the start of next gen?

Bottom Line

In a general sense, I think one thing hanging over both videos is that it’s key that Madden 21 next-gen doesn’t feel abandoned. I don’t get a sense expectations are sky high for the next-gen release, but it can’t be a situation where the game feels like it’s getting worse not better. Current-gen Madden right now is teetering on that edge of feeling like it’s regressing as the season rolls on, and so that needs to stop with next-gen Madden. We have seen many sports games go through a cycle of getting worse after launch via patches that hurt rather than help, so that would not be great for Madden’s image as we head into the first “full” year for Madden 22 next year if that were to occur here.

But returning to the original question after mentioning all that, what do you think has to be improved right from the jump when you boot up next-gen Madden 21?


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  1. Something to ponder about all of this. If they add and fix a ton on little gameplay things that could have been done on current gen is it not going to feel like a slap in the face? I mean, I can see adding things that can't be done on current gen like lighting, higher frame rates and things that require newer hardware to accomplish. But at this point if they improve the animations or blocking logic only on next gen and not current will that not feel a little disheartening? The only way this would be acceptable is if the next gen is truly a new engine that was written to fix nagging issues of the older engine that cannot be addressed as is. If it is just the same engine with shiny new graphical flourishes and logic fixes that could have been patched into current gen it will feel wrong.
    I am hoping we either get an entire new engine (not likely) or the same engine with pretty new graphics. I would like the only thing that separates Madden versions be things related to hardware....not additional gameplay logic reserved for one console generation specifically. Of course you can tell that I am not on the next gen bandwagon immediately. Having said that if Next Gen Madden is the bomb I might rethink that going forward. But improving game logic on just the next gen system would still feel wrong to me if it is not an entirely new build.
    Just my opinion.
    EA will want to make a splash on next gen. They are potentially stopping a fairly large demographic (Madden-only gamers) from buying next gen consoles if their offering is crap. It’s in the best interest of EA, Microsoft *and* Sony that next gen Madden isn’t just a port with an upgraded lighting engine or whatever people are speculating.
    For me to buy a next gen console *for madden*, it would have to be a 20-30% better product than current gen at least. Otherwise I’m waiting until baseball drops in April.
    Usually the first release of the next gen version of an established franchise like Madden is worse, not better.  It takes a year or two for them to catch up.  It should be better, but it usually isn't. 
    Gameplay wise, the line play on both sides of the ball for running and passing needs overhauled. Line play in Madden looks nothing like real life especially pass blocking and rushing. And canned animation tackling needs to be eliminated or greatly reduced.
    Presentation needs overhauled too. Madden 21 next gen needs to look, feel, and play like a whole different game.
    Unfortunately, Nex Gen is a port from current gen. You'll see a lot of advanced lighting effects but it's basically current gen madden with same gameplay/animations. I love the energy people are bringing but I'd lower the expectations.
    Unfortunately, Nex Gen is a port from current gen. You'll see a lot of advanced lighting effects but it's basically current gen madden with same gameplay/animations. I love the energy people are bringing but I'd lower the expectations.

    Thats what I'm expecting. I've a free Madden upgrade for XSX and PS5 anyways so the money's already spent.
    Everything. The game needs a complete overhaul but we all know that is a pipe dream. EA is giving this "next gen" patch for free so what does that tell you? The player models should get rid of the bent knee stance, its unrealistic, unnatural and kills immersion. The sidelines and crowds must be better. The Oline/Dline interactions are atrocious, even the real life Cowboys do a slightly better job of blocking (and that is saying a helluva lot!) The clipping and animations that have players meshing body parts needs to be gone. Basically EA must clean up all of the current gen bugs before they even attempt to shove a "next gen" port down out throats.
    I’m not expecting much from the first Gen-5 outing of Madden, but one thing that would be nice to see is general polish and lack of crippling bugs on day one.
    I don’t expect literally zero bugs, but I also don’t think that “significantly cleaner than Gen-4 launch Madden 21” is an unreasonable expectation.
    I've been doing a lot of digging for Madden next gen since current gen feels stale to me already ( especially since I was able to pre order a next gen console, my current console feels old already ). Madden showed us a next gen ' trailer ' which in my opinion, I doubt that's what the game really look like. A lot of ya'll remember that trailer with Mcnabb throwing that TD to T.O in the snow. Them highlighting to shoulder injury on the Eagles player that got tackled. Bogus, Til this day Madden has not lived up to that. I hope they're truly working on Franchise Mode. Before Madden is what it is now, Franchise mode was Madden's bread & butter, those players kept Madden alive back in the days. They did neglect a huge part of their audience by going heavier on MUT and not making any significant changes to the game period. Some of these things like sidelines and commentary is something we've been asking for a very long time. I wonder what do they do when they wake up and go to work because we know 2K is going hard right now. 2K racks in a sh*t load of money and probably can invest more into their game. However, Madden is the only sim football game we have and they do make their share of money. They were even boasting about their sales after Madden 21 released. I hope EA is aware of the disappointment, and the silence is due to them working hard to make changes they weren't expecting to make for this year, after the community lashed out. I don't have my hopes up for this year. However, I hope they're aware and focus on what made madden the best game back in its day.
    OL/DL improvements would be great, but I'd love to see added to that, improvement to open field blocking. As it is, once a block is engaged, both parties essentially stay still. There's very little movement which makes the open field aspect of the game anticlimactic and robotic.
    That would add some much needed life to the return game on special teams and as well as turnovers and big plays.
    Sent from my SM-G970U using Operation Sports mobile app
    AI in all aspects needs an overhaul. Gameplay in general needs a build from the ground up. They have just been adding onto a broken foundation from the start of the 7th gen. I don't want to see the same legacy issues with prettier graphics.
    One thing that is unnatural and must be better is CPU A.I. The running backs 95% of the time run to the L.O.S clueless. It would be refreshing to see a RB bounce a run outside and take proper running angles to get yards. Its almost like they are trying to find contact. CPU QB scrambling to the outside is also a wreck. They dart straight over to the sideline and then cut up field, even if there are no immediate defenders in front of them. There are legacy tackling animations that must be removed, like the one where a defender hits a RB head on and drives him flat on his back, that animation has been around at least 6 years or more. It pains me to see a small DB blitz and hit someone like Derrick Henry and flatten him on his back like a sheet in the wind. I think we all know the REAL outcome in that situation, just ask Josh Norman what really happens! CPU play in general is easily the weakest part of Madden. EA must rework all aspects of CPU A.I
    What I am expecting and really hoping for is a less is more outcome. I actually do hope this next gen game is bare bones to the core of what we only really want the game to be. I hope no time was wasted on other game modes besides just playing season after season with 1-32 football teams. I do hope that editing of players, ratings and sliders is there in full. That's it. I don't want to worry about patches every week because other modes are coded into the game and all keep ponging each other per what glitches out whenever.
    At the very least wouldn't it prove to them that a game that's only the core game again is good enough?
    One thing I’d like to see in Franchise is lower rated players getting snaps over higher rated players based on performance or based on age or future. For instance high rated guy is 29 higher rated but the 23 year old lower rated get more snaps. Or even the Gaskin situation in Miami where the cpu would of never started him over Breida because ratings but Gaskin def outperformed him for the starting role.
    Madden 22 will see the biggest jump in overall performance IMO. Only major changes you will see on next gen this time around is graphic wise and maybe some back performance in simulating speed and overall time in loading screens. Wait out until Madden 22 and in general the 2nd version of all established titles.
    I think the biggest thing for me I need to see is just a “respect of contact”. It’s 2020, the most powerful consoles ever release soon and we shouldnt have to deal with animations that put force fields around ball carriers. If my DT is tackling the RB and he breaks the tackle, he shouldn’t have an invulnerability cloak that makes my linebacker not able to touch him.
    Last gen the first game was just a port of Madden 25. I fully expect that for this gen, just a port of Madden 21. It's a major reason I have not even looked into pre-ordering a console.
    Last gen the first game was just a port of Madden 25. I fully expect that for this gen, just a port of Madden 21. It's a major reason I have not even looked into pre-ordering a console.

    Pretty much. That's why it's a free upgrade. They may remove features instead of adding new ones in (wouldn't be surprised based on EAs past).
    As I continue to play current-gen Madden, here are items that are musts from me for Day-1 launch:

    • New Ball physics - No more of players dribbling the ball off of their bodies or forceful downward swats that turn into interceptions
    • End of canned receiver-db animations - I hate these, why can't the players react individually based on their ratings and location to the ball?
    • New sidelines - Based off the trailers we've seen, it does look like this will be the 3rd consecutive generation of Madden games with mannequins on the sideline. There's no good excuse for this.

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