Are you ready for some footballllll? If you said yes, then we’ve got good news. Because Madden is back! Madden NFL 24 is here, and if you’re asking yourself if this is the same football game we’ve been playing for years and years or if it is something new and fresh. The answer is yes.
Game Name: Madden NFL 24 Platform(s): Ps4, PS5 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Madden NFL 24, like most sports games, tries to upgrade and improve upon the version that was just released 365-ish days earlier. With the technology and power of today’s consoles and PCs, these games are obviously going to look like a Sunday afternoon television broadcast. That’s almost a given. But how they play and how fun they are is what will keep people coming back for more or make them hang up their helmets for good.
The team at EA boasts about a heap of new features in this year’s Madden. From its FieldSENSE animations, improvements to Franchise and Ultimate Team modes, and SKELETON SAPIEN TECHNOLOGY (!!!), there are a lot of great things to be excited about under the hood here. That doesn’t mean some of the usual nagging Madden annoyances are gone. Some are, some aren’t. Let’s dive in. Hike!
What I Liked
They’ve also added new impressive moves to top-tier quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen (sorry, Zach Wilson), that can do a jump or dive pass and other magical moves they pull off in real life. At some point in these games, it seems like they’ve peaked graphically and in other areas, so this is a fun and unique way to make slight improvements to make the game more life-like. FieldSENSE also makes slightly inaccurate passes (my specialty) more easily catchable. If the receiver is close enough, they’ll try harder to dive or make the catch instead of letting it whiz right by them (However, I found this to not be true in Superstar mode as my QB usually finishes each game throwing 9 for 37. Lots of drops, fellas!).
With these new changes, however, come new difficulties. The old days of “push A to throw” are gone. For example, you have to hold L2 while pushing up on the L stick and then tap the receiver’s icon just to throw a lob pass slightly ahead of your receiver out of the way of any defender. This is where the challenges come. It needed a better tutorial, in my opinion. When you first start up the game, it will ask you which of the THREE methods of passing you would like to do. You can try each one before you decide, which is nice. So I only panicked for a few seconds. This can also be changed whenever you’d like. But after trying all 3, I felt like they were either too similar or too difficult to get used to, so I opted for the boring old “Classic” mode. So, similar to last year’s game, if you haven’t played Madden in a while, it’s not as easy as riding a bike. The controls can be a little overwhelming, confusing, or difficult.
It’s nice to have the option so you can find out which is best for you. You’ll want to just dive into a game immediately, but after you lose 31-7, you might want to go back and play some of that tutorial you skipped. Other FieldSENSE adjustments are new blocking movements making defensive and offensive linemen more dynamic. Players will now react better to what’s actually happening on the screen. Even A.I. (booooooo!) quarterbacks react more intelligently. They also say that onside kicks are improved, which, if I pull one off, will make my all-time onside kick recovery record jump to 2-487.
With all these improvements to defense and A.I. (booooooooo!) and blocking, you might think the game is harder. It’s an easy game to understand but a hard game to master. They boast about all this FieldSENSE stuff, but does it actually work, and can you see it happening in the game? The short answer is yes. After a few games, I already noticed the slight differences in catching and running, and blocking throughout the game. If you look hard enough, you’ll see it. It gives the game sort of an “I wonder what will happen next!” vibe to it. And what usually happens next is a beautiful interception thrown by me.
A big change this season is SAPIEN technology, which is basically a new skeleton for the players built from the ground up. No, Sub-Zero isn’t hiding in the locker room drooling after hearing that, but the players move better, look better, and act more realistic. They’ve upgraded thousands of old animations from previous games to make this the best version of Madden yet (until next year, probably). They even brought referees back on the field! Because we all missed that.
Superstar mode is all about trying to get a 99-rated player. You can choose between 5 choices of either being a QB, HB, WR, LB, or CB. I made myself a 6’6”, 230lb QB from Hofstra University because Long Island needs some good news for once. Creating your player only took about 7-10 minutes, depending on how serious you are about your character’s jawline and earlobe placement. You start off competing in the combine, which is just 5 fun little mini-games, hoping to increase your stats and raise your draft stock. I will say when I tried to actually do my first Combine mission, the game just perpetually loaded and never actually worked.
So I had to restart the entire game. Luckily, with the PS5’s ‘resume activity’ feature, it went right back to Superstar mode and worked fine. After the drills, you have to take a media day interview which is just mostly common knowledge NFL questions (I got 8 out of 10 correct). After the drills and interview, there’s an unskippable cutscene that shows you behind the scenes at the draft, where Deion Sanders gives you advice. After you answer a simple question by Coach Prime, then the ability to skip pops up, which I did. And I had no idea where I was drafted because it skipped right over that part. But it was the first round! (I eventually saw I was the 11th pick by the Titans, even though I did pretty well at the Combine. But not bad, I guess.)
Training camp allows you to play any of the 26 mini-games to get better at the game. You can do drills and games and even practice as a team, all on your way to improving at the game. I can’t see this being a huge selling point to anybody. I’m terrible at the game and have been playing it for two decades, and I still won’t go to training camp. I’d rather just play a real game.
Franchise mode, like always, gives you full control over any franchise you want. Nothing much has changed here from previous seasons, so if you enjoyed Franchise mode in the past, you’ll enjoy this one too. If you want to rename your team to something with butts in the name, go for it. If you want to move a certain team that’s based in Philadelphia and relocate them to the middle of a volcano along with their entire fanbase where they belong, go for it. It’s entirely up to you. There are other things you can do, like tweak the draft class, adjust free agent motivation, and make trades easier or harder. What kind of maniac makes them harder escapes me. But EA thought of you anyway. If you’re the kind of person that wants to be an owner and adjust salary caps while also playing football on the side, this is the mode for you.
Ultimate Team also returns and is bigger than ever. EA has promised more year-round content so you can finally build that, well, ultimate team you’ve been dreaming about. There are more seasons, more legends, and more players to add to your team. It is exciting when you pull that rare, highly-rated card, but the quality of players your team starts with is pretty sub-par. So it does take a while to grind out this mode to get a pretty exciting team you’d be proud to show off online. Before that, though, it’s best to play all the solo drills and challenges to keep earning players and coins to open more packs to get more cards.
What I Didn’t Like
There are a few fumbles, however. It’s already been said in this review, but Madden NFL 24 looks great. No one is going to argue that. Where I really feel like some games lately, especially sports games, get annoying are in the menus. There’s a LOT here. Maybe too much. I don’t want to have to sit through a few seconds of loading screens every single time I switch to a different mode or try to back out to the main menu. It might be a little thing, but it definitely cheapens the experience somewhat. All the bragging by Sony and Microsoft about loading times on these state-of-the-art gaming machines seems to go right out the window like a poorly thrown Hail Mary when Madden loads up. It can get choppy and drag a bit. Half the time, I don’t even know if my “press X to advance” even worked because the game doesn’t do anything. No sound. No haptic feedback. So you mash a bottom only to realize that, yes, the game is loading to the next menu.
Some things are still baffling, such as cut scenes during Superstar Mode with NO sound and just a coach trying to pump his team up before you can actually get into a mini-drill. He’s just waving his arms up and down and his mouth moving, but nothing is coming out. Why even have that? The game makes you frustrated while playing it, sometimes with unnecessary cut scenes or skippable scenes that have no effect on anything you’re doing. They prolong parts of the game that take you away from the actual fun part of the game.
The most negative thing about this year is mid-game ‘buffs’ and ‘nerfs,’ for lack of better terms. While on paper, it might seem fun if your team gets a little boost of accuracy or awareness, but boy, oh boy, let me tell you, when it goes against you, you’ll want to throw your controller across the room. For example, one thing that goes against you if you start playing poorly on offense and/or your opponent is playing well on defense is that your pre-snap play art will turn to spaghetti. It becomes almost impossible to read. It might even be the wrong play art! So if you choose a play and want to check it before the snap, like I’d imagine 97% of people who play Madden do, it might be the wrong one. It looks like Toejam & Earl are scribbling play art all over your screen in the least funky way possible. I don’t hate the idea of giving a team a little nudge for doing well, but they seem to have made it a whole shove by Aaron Donald, making it not a pleasant experience. The only way to get out of it is to start playing better, which, yeah, duh. I’m trying.
Crossplay Finally Makes Its Play
And lastly, online. A huge deal this year is there’s crossplay on consoles and PC. So that means I can get my ass handed to me across any platform I’m lucky enough to get paired up with. Playing online, whether it was with friends or randos across the world, was mostly smooth. I did experience a random lag or glitch here and there, but nothing game-breaking. I didn’t have any freezing, disconnections, or victories either. But I did enjoy playing against a real person instead of all the A.I. (boooooooooo!!!) that I was doing in all the other modes.
So where does this all leave Madden NFL 24 after all that? Well, there are a lot of the modes that are the same modes as always, with slight additions and differences, and there really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking here. If you enjoy the game, you’ll enjoy this year’s game too. But don’t expect something brand new or something unique you’ve never seen before. It isn’t here. Is it a fun game? Yes, it always has been, which is why they’ve been making it forever, year after year, and selling millions of copies. Is it a perfect game? Absolutely not, but since it’s basically the only game in town for football, we’re stuck with it, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’ve put off getting Madden the last few years and really want to play some football again, dust off your pads and get out there and have some fun. Find me on the gridiron for an easy win.
Madden NFL 24 is the latest iteration of Electronic Art’s popular Football game with a few new features this year. There are refinements to existing gameplay mechanics, the return of others, and the addition of crossplay (FINALLY). The game isn’t perfect, but despite a few fumbles, Madden NFL 24 is a solid entry for those who enjoy the Madden series games.