Madden 23 Honest Review
It’s that time of year again, everybody. Madden season is what the marketing team at EA would want you to call it. It’s the start of football season, and as fans of the sport get ready for the NFL’s return.
EA uses this as a perfect opportunity to shove their complete simulation NFL game in your face. They are forcing you to beg for a code to close beta to announce controversial player ratings to get people talking about their game. And to the spam of uploads to YouTube and from EA-related content creators overhyping a low-quality game.
If you were unaware, only EA is allowed to make simulation NFL games. They have no competition. The game is one of the best-selling in the world because it’s the only NFL game, and the NFL is popular.
EA has no real incentive to put effort into this game because they have what a monopoly is. Imagine you’re a high school senior and mentally checked out. You have one big project left before you graduate and only need to get a 70 to pass. You do the bare minimum to get that grade.
Madden 23 is that half-assed school project. The difference is that it’s also the exclusive video game for one of the most popular brands in the world. And it’s made by one of the wealthiest companies in the world. It feels like a half-assed school project made by someone who mentally checked out a decade ago. If this isn’t a game worthy of my time or yours, I figured that you guys should know.
EA needs competition
Madden 23 will not be a good game until EA receives competition. The sanest people could predict that Madden 23 would not be worth their 70 dollars. But I’ve been looking through Twitter, and it seems like many more people than usual are falling for EA’s marketing. Yet, it’s 60 dollars on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. It seems like my review is still necessary.
People are calling Madden 23 a great game. Yes, Madden 23 is a good game but not great. It’s better than Madden 22. I agree with that, but not a great game. Every year EA is taking tiny steps forward. At what point do we expect the game to get to where it needs to be? We can’t praise a billion-dollar company holding the NFL license hostage for improving a bit after ten years of improving. They are still charging the total price for their game.
Last good Madden game
Madden 23 is a step in the right direction, making it frustrating and harmful. It’s a terrible base game that’s been updated every year, and while it’s nice that it’s a better game than Madden 22. that does not make this a great game. Going from an f to a d minus is an improvement but not one worthy of praise. In my opinion, and as I’ll show you with heavy evidence, there hasn’t been a perfect Madden game in a long time. The last time there was, it was because EA had to fight for their spot at the top. They were competing against alternative NFL games like NFL 2k, NFL game day, NFL fever, and more in 2005.
After that, EA signed a deal with the NFL preventing any other company from making a game that could compete with Madden. Madden 22 was universally hated shortly after launch. Every year many people overhype the new Madden games, especially content creators affiliated with EA.
Also, the ones who rely on playing Madden to earn a living romanticize the game’s improvements without acknowledging how far off the game is. Believe it or not, Madden 22 was praised for a few weeks after it came out before the popular opinion on the game. But quickly replaced the hype with the truth. It was terrible, and eventually, nearly everyone agreed that Madden NFL 23 is not a good game. It hasn’t been good in over a decade.
I wish I didn’t have to be one of the few people being straight up with you guys and not sugar coating what I say. But to me, it seems like most content creators or those with a platform are too scared to ruin their relationships with EA. Or some of their friends who work on the game are brutally honest. We don’t need to pat EA on the back for taking baby steps yearly. This is a billion-dollar corporation with a monopoly over one of the most popular brands in the world. I will not hold back because we need fewer sellouts and more honesty. I will give this game credit where credit is due.
New tackling system
Gameplay has some legitimate improvements this year, making the game much more fun compared to Madden 22. field sense is the buzzword EA used this year, most of which is marketing talk. There is some new stuff. The new tackling system is the most noticeable improvement. Instead of seeing the same seven tackle animations every game and predicting the outcome of a play based on what animation is getting triggered.
The game has a new, more physics-based tackling and collision system. It’s not as lovely as backbreaker’s euphoria engine tackling system from 2010. It’s less of a proper physics-based system and more of a branching animation system. But the result is less predictable gameplay and a greater feeling of user control. This leads to a much better online competitive game adding a skill gap that hasn’t been in previous years.
New Passing System
It’s not a unique or perfect backbreaker, but it’s a lot better than it has been. However, after spending some time with the game, I started to see some recurring animations, and that new fresh feeling started to wear off. I eventually felt like I was playing Madden 22 again, only with a slight patch. Throwing the ball has seen some changes now.
With a new passing system that gives you more control over where you place the pass., it’s not that different from what you usually see. You aim your pass with the stick as always. With more control over the arc power and placement of the pass, the ball trajectory overall is still way lower than it should be. Defenders can still intercept nearly anything in the most glitchy ways possible.
Ultimate Team Online
It is a step forward for the game, further adding to that skill gap I mentioned previously. It’s clear that with gameplay, EA caters to the ultimate team online competitive crowd because that’s the game mode with microtransactions. That’s what makes them money. You’ll probably have a decent time with this game if that sounds like you. Because you probably don’t care about all the other little stuff. EA misses the mark if you’re more of an offline player. However, or someone looking for a true NFL simulation or something fresh and different for once, you’re out of luck because the positives end here.
Pass rush is more realistic because elite edge rushers get constant pressure on you. However, that’s mainly because the blocking ai in this game is horrendous. No one knows how to block Madden games from the ps2 seem to have more consistent blocking players are still warping into each other. Passes will be thrown straight to a defender 10 yards away from the target receiver.
Jump balls always favor the defensive back. Defenders will make plays despite their heads being turned but fumble completely. Also, interceptions are still way too frequent. This game is catered to online competitive play and is not meant to be an NFL simulation despite being a complete simulation NFL game.
Madden 22 All-over Again
The gameplay of Madden 22 is still here. The tackling is improved, and there’s more control over how you throw the ball. But in between the tackles and after the catch, it’s the same game. It’s still rough and annoying to play, just less than last year. We’ll get into it later on. It’s full of bugs, glitches, horrible presentations, commentary, and more.
The Player movement is advertised as newly called 360 cuts this year. How is this different from actual player motion in Madden 19 or whatever they’ve been calling it the last few years? I have no idea you can cut with just the stick by quickly changing direction. It’s just marketing speak because this is what we’ve had for years, just slightly tuned and tweaked like every single feature in Madden.
Here’s some footage of the tackling and backbreaker, a game from 2010. notice how far ahead it looks compared to Madden 23.
Here’s some footage of all pro football 2k. This is the classic comparison I always use. It still, to this day, looks better than Madden in everything. But graphical fidelity while gameplay is still a mess. It’s the highlight of Madden 23 because it’s at least better than previous years. If you hated the gameplay of Madden 22, you’d hate most of Madden 23’s gameplay.
But it’ll feel better and more like you’re in control. It’ll feel a bit less cheesy and scripted. The keyword here is ‘a bit.’ This is why some praise the game or call it a step in the right direction. Because EA finally made two tweaks to the gameplay. This is what Twitter is raving about.
Let’s find out how much is behind Madden 23 with franchise mode.
NBA 2K Franchise Mode
Here’s what NBA 2k is adding to their mode this year. Eras, you can start from the 80s to the 90s to the 2000s to the 2010s. With unique CPU gameplay styles, teams, logos, uniforms, rosters, and even presentations with retro scoreboards and filters based on that era.
Teams will auto relocate to where they would in real life, such as the supersonics moving to Oklahoma City. Although you can customize, reject or change any of these moves. Every era has its menu presentation, finance scale, game plan, playbooks, dynamic shorts, length, referee evolution throughout the eras, and so much more.
How long you have to wait?
You could expect EA to do something similar in Madden 45, considering NBA 2k games from over a decade ago have a deeper franchise mode than Madden 23. even older Maddens like Madden 07 on the PS2 have deeper franchise modes than Madden 23.
So, what has EA added to their franchise mode this year? The mode needs the most attention and is far behind the eight ball. There’s a visual overhaul to the menus just like every year.
In free agency, there is something called active negotiations, where you get periods. You can use it to offer up to five players a contract simulating the real-time frenzy of free agency. However, this is nothing new and a half-assed version of Madden 12’s free agency. EA also added a player interest bar called player motivations to free agents. oh wait, that was in Madden 15.
So again, nothing new. just recycled older features in a mode that needs much more. What about player tags? Just a cosmetic label for most players, a half-assed version of player roles in Madden 07. so what’s new here? NOTHING.
Franchise Mode of Madden 23
The franchise is more untouched than it’s been in the last few years. Remember that I have no issue with EA bringing back older features. They removed the issue that there are over 70 features that used to be in matting games. That no longer is, so adding back two or three in a half-assed way and then calling it a year is pretty lousy, especially compared to what 2k is doing. How can EA be innovating their game if they can’t even match the depth of Madden 08?
Yes, relocation teams are the same. All the annoyances I have with this mode every year are still present. Contracts can’t be longer than seven years. So Mahomes contract doesn’t exist in the exclusive simulation. NFL video game playoff stats are not tracked. Simulated stats make no sense. We asked for better scouting, and coordinators EA half-assed it in the worst possible way last year.
This year it’s about the same. I missed the old scouting, which was incredibly bare bones. Remember, these faces are used for created players or draft classes. They are yet again the same. You can only use the true create a player system for the face of the franchise mode.
EA gone mad?
There is no training camp, no real off-season, no compensatory picks, waiver wire, or anything you’d expect if you follow the NFL. It’s just a mess of a mode with all the same issues it had for years. Because EA has no idea what they have been doing since Madden 13, they’ve been slowly building upon the same base game.
They are adding feature by feature every year only to cause more bugs and glitches and further mess up the game. All they need to do is start fresh and build Madden correctly. But no, they take the base coat of Madden that everybody hates, slap some band-aids on it every year, and call it a game.
EA must assume they already fixed it because they barely touched it this year. Even though this mode is missing over 70 features from older Maddens. So it can’t even compare to a ps2 game and then compare to other sports games like 2k. EA’s looks like an absolute joke. Because its franchise mode in Madden 23 would be acceptable on the ps1. If this mode were on the ps2, it would not look good. It is now 2022. why aren’t we holding EA more accountable for this?
Other game modes
The face of the franchise is a bit better than usual, with the cutscenes and story being less in-your-face and more optional. However, you start in year five, meaning no college football or career backstory, and there’s again not much to do besides some cutscenes playing games and some cosmetic touches. It’s connected to the yard, but it’s just not very streamlined. It’s not like 2k where you have a hub world like the city or the park to walk around. Compare Madden 23’s career mode to an old game like NBA 2k15.
In 2k blows it away. This model is simply an excuse to keep using the frostbite engine that holds Madden 23 back. It’s cheesy and boring and only enjoyable if you’re a kid who hasn’t played anything better. Other game modes include the Madden legacy game, which is just a play. Game with two teams of classic players, basically what we had in Madden 19 with the legends versus the elites. It’s a nice gesture, but like everything else in this game, it feels half-assed. Why not go the extra mile and bring back a few historic teams like the ones that used to be in Madden?
Historic players need to be behind a paywall in mutt. So EA can make even more money. The ultimate team is back, and I will not cover it. Close the tab now if you pay money to buy packs and the ultimate team. There’s no incentive to play, no fundamental changes, gameplay that got old two years ago, and a newer, more updated tutorial mode. It’s probably the most fun thing this game has to offer, and it’s not fun in terms of presentation.
Madden 23 game is some of the worst presentations you’ll ever see in a sports game. Laughably generic is an excellent way to describe it. Yes, it’s the same commentary team we’ve had since Madden 17. that’s seven years in a row. Meanwhile, games like 2k have multiple commentaries. Because EA has no NFL competition games, you’ll hear Charles Davis and Brendan Godden say the same annoying lines you’ve heard for seven years.
The crowd barely exists. When you juke someone, the crowd reacted in 2007, but Madden 23 is silent. The crowd is a little excited. This game feels dead. There is no atmosphere, no effort put into it at all. The cuts to the crowd look awful. The sidelines still look terrible. The graphics don’t even look that good. Look at the player models.
Meanwhile, 2k has added different refs for different eras in history. Almost every matting game up to Madden 20 had referees. The pre-game presentation half-time is the most generic thing you’ll ever see, with no substance at all. From the underwhelming stock music to the generic camera shots to the horrible commentary, this is one of the worst sports games ever in terms of presentation.
No understanding of music
You know that feeling when you turn on fox or CBS or NBC for football and hear that epic orchestra music hyping you for what’s to come. EA doesn’t understand any of that. Because their game puts you to sleep before the action, this game is so far behind where it should be for the only simulation NFL game. It’s just sad ESPN NFL 2k5, a game from 2004, still blows Madden 23 away in terms of presentation. Here’s a recent quote from the game’s senior producer client Oldenburg.
“We are confident that our game for Madden 23 will be the most polished version of Madden that we’ve had in a long time. I’m not going to say it’s going to be perfect, but I will say. The team is still striving to reach perfection. as hard as that may be, that is our goal. Polish is our top priority, and we know we cannot reach our goals if players believe our game is a buggy experience.”
The game is a buggy experience. Bugs are everywhere. Everything is broken. It sucks. most of these bugs were present in the last few Madden. So it’s not like this will be patched up and fixed. No Madden has felt polished in the last five years, not even after the final update. These issues still exist because the team working on Madden either isn’t given the time to fix them or has no idea how to. So why would anyone call this good game marketing?
Marketing and Manipulation
EA has such a manipulative method to get people talking about Madden. First, they had a closed beta. It would be open if they wanted user feedback from the beta and the game to improve. So more players could give feedback. Instead, beta codes are given to EA-affiliated YouTubers and streamers, and the average person needs to retweet, follow, get on their knees and beg to get a code for a beta meant for feedback.
This causes Madden to trend online and gets people begging for codes to play the game early for free. Mostly kids create an artificial appearance of demand for the game. Then there are the ratings revealed. This is controversial as it gets people discussing Madden online, reminding everyone that the only info game is coming and to pre-order it. These ratings change weekly and only apply to the game modes EA doesn’t care about, like the franchise. So really, what’s the point is proper marketing?
Madden 22 vs Madden 23
Then there’s the fact that Madden 22 was such a lousy game that by simply being a little bit better, Madden 23 could win over the hearts of anyone that doesn’t have a brain. The EA-affiliated YouTubers claim this game is amazing simply because it’s better than last year’s all-time terrible Madden inexperienced. Reviewers will do the same over hyping the game’s tiny steps forward and ignoring all the issues and missing features, likely because they’re unaware of them and aren’t qualified to review this game.
EA will then quote these YouTubers and journalists to promote their game further, hoping to draw in as many players as possible. So they can turn to the only game mode EA promotes, ultimate team, and then spend money gambling on packs with microtransactions, further increasing EA’s profits, and yes, Madden is a pay-to-win game mode. Once you see what EA is doing and what content creators are doing, it’s pretty easy to feel jaded.
EA and the NFL look at the average fan as an idiot who will buy anything with their logo. Do you want to be that guy? There is a lot more wrong with this game that I don’t have time to write in a simple review.
Madden 23 is a better-playing version of Madden 22, and it is a better game, but it’s not a good game. EA has set the bar shallow, which may cause some to overrate or overhype 23 initially, but as I just showed you, this game is not worth your money. Don’t be fooled or manipulated by marketing. Did the devs do everything they could to improve this game, maybe or maybe not? It’s impossible to know, but I simply don’t care.
You can’t give a sports game a good score simply because it improved. Madden has been in such a bad state for so many years, and now it’s the time to say thank you, EA. You fixed the game a little bit. But Madden 23 is not a good game, not even close. Is it a lot better than Madden 18 through Madden 22?
Madden 08 was good
I guess it’s not even close to PS2 aromatics such as Madden 08 in terms of depth. It’s not even close to backbreaker, a game from 2010 in terms of physics. It’s not even close to all pro football 2k8 in terms of gameplay, and it’s not even close to any other modern sports game on the market.
Trust me; I’m sick of making these comparisons. I’m sick of constantly talking about old games like 2k8, backbreaker, 2k5, or Madden 08. but I’m forced to until EA successfully surpasses these games, and they haven’t come close.
The only complete simulation NFL game was made 12 years later than the newest of the three games. I just mentioned this is pathetic and with john Madden himself on the cover. It’s disrespectful. You could argue that not putting Madden on the cover would be more disrespectful, and it’s a lose-lose situation for EA.
But ask yourself this, why is the game so bad? How did this happen? EA took a decent solid game and ruined it over the last decade and a half. This is the fault they got themselves into. This mess, and for that, they deserve all the blame in the world, especially when their 2022 product should be a culmination of 34 years of work.
I feel sad because Madden name is being used by EA
One attempting to celebrate the life of a man who cared deeply about the quality of the game with his name on it is as unpolished and underwhelming as it is. It feels like EA is milking this man’s death for money, and it just feels wrong.
Madden 23 leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth, and sure, it’s just a video game, just as this is just a review. This isn’t the end of the worst thing to happen. I’m not crying about it, but it does suck, and the fall of the Madden series has a lot of striking parallels to more significant issues in our current world.
If you hated Madden 22 and most of the other recent Maddens, you’d hate this game too. Because it’s simply not different enough, and that’s EA’s fault. Instead of buying it this year just to complain about it, why not save your money? You don’t have to buy this. No one is making you because something is an improvement that doesn’t automatically make it good.
A good game stands on its own, you could say. So you aren’t even satisfied when EA improves the game. Nothing will satisfy you, but that’s a flawed argument. I gave EA credit where credit is due. I’m giving this game a higher score than last year. But it’s still not a good game. Don’t be so easily manipulated. These giant companies are not here to please you. They are here to manipulate you.
I could make the worst game known to man and then fix a couple of issues and rerelease it. Did I make a better game? Yes. Did I make a good game? No. Madden 23 has a long way to go, which we’ve been saying for over a decade and is unacceptable.
EA has failed to justify why it deserves the exclusive simulation. NFL license, the game will sell as it always does. Because it’s the only modern NFL game available to buy but remember, just because it’s the only NFL game, that doesn’t mean you need to buy it.
Madden NFL 23 is not good. I’d give it a 3 out of 10. Thanks for reading. have a good day and save your money.
Enough with sports madness, read this and decide whether you should buy Dying Light.