The most notable aspect of Madden 23 is that it is not all that dissimilar to Madden 22, but where EA Tiburon has made changes, they have tightened and improved the gameplay, which is the most fundamental aspect of the game. The developer has clearly spent time trying to make skill-based passing more intuitive than just a regular old button press, which is one of the key new features, and skill-based passing is one of the key new features. You now have the option to change the power and accuracy of your throw, with gauges determining the strength of a throw. Additionally, you now have the ability to lead your receiver or try to slot the ball between defenders, something that you can now take some Madden 23 buy coins for.
There is undoubtedly a significantly higher skill ceiling to be found with these, and if you are willing to put in the effort, you will be able to target your receivers with a level of pinpoint accuracy that would make Tom Brady turn a shade of Buccaneers red. These new options do not significantly alter the gameplay in any way, so if you are just a casual Madden player checking in for your fix of arcade football, there is not going to be enough of a reward for you to make the jump. You are free to stick with what you are familiar with, and a good number of people will do so, but it is a satisfying upgrade for those who are looking for a more simulation-based experience.
The opening sequence of Madden 23 begins in a manner not dissimilar to how it always has. You have the option of selecting different experience levels, and you can choose whether you want to play in Arcade mode, which features fast-paced and exciting action, Simulation mode, which is slower-paced and more sedate, or Competitive mode, which is the setting for all ranked online matches and is where your stick skills matter far more than those pesky player ratings. Players of games played on consoles of a more recent generation have the advantage of being able to select from a variety of performance modes, giving them the opportunity to prioritize either image quality or framerate. You’re going to need performance if you want the smoothest experience possible while playing Madden.
Although some of these modes require a macro-level focus on teams, others require a micro-level focus on individual players. None of these modes will significantly alter the way you play football. The plot of Face of the Franchise is entertaining enough, but the dialogue in the cutscenes is so unoriginal and stilted that you will find yourself wanting to laugh for all the wrong reasons. Aside from that, none of these modes really feel all that different from what previous iterations of the Madden franchise have provided.
You’ll feel as if you’re watching the real thing when you play Madden NFL 23 because the game is so realistic. The graphics, the commentary, and the sounds of the crowd all contribute significantly to the formation of that impression. Particularly impressive is the insightful commentary. Both Charles Davis and Brandon Gaudin, the announcers, have voices that are so lifelike that it’s almost as if they’re standing there watching you.
However, the presentation of the game is not quite flawless in every respect. For instance, as a native Philadelphian, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd chant “let’s go Eagles” during a game more frequently than the famous “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!”However, the former receives a greater amount of play in Madden NFL 23.
Even the shots of the crowd don’t always correspond to one another properly. When there were only ten seconds left in one of the games, I was ahead by 15 points, but the camera panned to opposing team supporters who were cheering and applauding as if they were about to take home the championship. These are relatively insignificant lapses in immersion (and, yes, the Philadelphia one is pretty specific), but they are nonetheless present.
With the exception of some lengthy loading times within the menus, Madden NFL 23’s performance in general does not raise any concerns for me. Players are able to get a good sense of the game’s rhythm and flow during a real game of football because the action unfolds at a consistent frame rate and runs smoothly for the most part. On the other hand, there are some nasty bugs that are spreading across social media platforms. Even though I was spared their effects, I can’t say for certain that other players won’t have the same good fortune.
The lack of loading time between choosing the final members of each team and seeing the stadium for the first time was the thing that struck me the most. It takes an extremely short amount of time for Madden NFL 23 to load every player, crowd member, and coach in the game. As a result, players are able to get right into the action without having to wait through any tedious loading screens. In one of the games, I timed how long it took from the moment I released the button until the arena was completely loaded. I could only get as far as level three, which is quite impressive.
The fun I had playing Madden NFL 23 was comparable to the fun I had playing previous years’ versions of the game. It’s a criticism that’s been leveled at Madden countless times before, but nothing about the new version from this year really stands out. You’ll be playing good ol’ fashioned American football, portrayed in a way that only blitz bux is capable of, but you already know what to expect when you hit the start button.
In spite of this, there are a few standout moments in this reel. You can’t deny the love that was put into Madden Legacy for the man who was the inspiration behind the name, so it’s a tribute that’s well worth playing more than once. The recreation of the sport comes about as close to the genuine experience as one could reasonably hope for. However, in the end, it’s still the same old Madden, and anyone waiting for a revolution will have to wait at least one more year for it to happen.