Another year, another Madden NFL release, but does the latest iteration of EA Sports’ annual series improve upon its predecessors, or is it worth taking a bye on this year’s version?
Critical consensus so far suggests the former, as the game’s developer EA Tiburon has made exhaustive changes to the passing and catching game for both offense and defense, as well as a new mode called Draft Champions among other improvements.
“Madden NFL 16 has taken unused and long-forsaken parts of the series’ gameplay and given them meaning, delivering a truly consistent, understandable and enjoyable game after a decade in the wilderness,” writes Polygon’s Owen Good. “Madden NFL 16 is noticeably more challenging, but successes that feel earned are much more satisfying.”
While every year’s iteration of the game adds its own new set of gameplay tweaks, critical consensus suggests NFL 16 has taken into account the alterations of the past and not simply done away with them, but capitalized on what worked and modified the good ideas that didn’t quite coalesce.
Read below for more from Polygon’s Good, as well as a host of other critics’ thoughts on the latest version of the game. Madden NFL 16 is now available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Owen Good, Polygon (9/10)
“The overall balance Madden 16 brings to the passing, receiving and defending phases of the game is on full display in my new favorite mode, Draft Champions. It’s a wickedly clever challenge — there’s no way to build (or buy) a super-team and annihilate the opposition on ratings alone.”
Matthew Kato, Game Informer (8.75/10)
“The A.I. is also better this year. I play on All Pro, and although quarterbacks have the same low stats when simming, there is a bigger gap between good and bad/average passers on the field; the good ones can even pick you apart. The lanes for A.I. running backs are bigger as well. For the first time ever I actually had to call more than three defensive plays to keep offenses in check.”
Miguel Concepcion, GameSpot (8/10)
EA Tiburon has created the most visually arresting football video game to date. That goes across nearly the entire visual spectrum, from the play animations to the uniform detail. The studio also managed to narrow the animation gap between the smooth on-field action and the less fluid scenes on the sidelines after the whistle.
Steven Hansen, Destructoid (6.5/10)
“That’s about it, though. There are some neat presentation additions (statistic graphics overlaid on players) and the menus are well laid out, though they are also pretty slow. Load times, too, are still a bit of a problem (and intrusive presentation elements are bothersome when running a hurry up offense). The insistence towards microtransaction-laden Ultimate Team and the new fantasy football-cribbed Draft Champions modes is useless. Throwing, catching, and defending throws have seen some welcomed, long-ignored additions that get a couple yards closer to faithful simulation.”
Allen Kim and Ben Eagle, Sports Illustrated
“EA Tiburon has now had some time to really polish the next-gen versions of Madden, and this year seems to be a culmination of everything they’ve been building throughout the years. This is easily the best Madden to come out since next-gen consoles were first released, and it deserves a place in your game collection.”
Rich Grisham, GamesRadar (4/5)
Tackling also feels different and, for the most part, better this season. Players can break out of tackles regularly, which increases the need for two or more defenders to converge on a ballcarrier. The physics of the one-two punch of tacklers flying in from different directions is impressive, and the use of leverage and positioning to bring someone down is presented well. Quarterback accuracy ratings actually matter this season, too.
Brett Molina, USA Today
“Holding down a button representing one of the three choices executes the catch. However — and this is critical — that doesn’t mean players are pulling down catches every single time. Teams still need a good quarterback to make the throw, and receivers talented enough to make those acrobatic catches. For every one throw I would complete using Aggressive catch, there were four or five that missed the mark due to an overthrow or better positioning by the defender. But when you do make that one spectacular catch in a key point in the game, it is beyond satisfying, not to mention a good reason to stop skipping the replays.”
Mike Mitchell, IGN (Review in Progress)
“The new mechanics of Madden NFL 16 are useful tools that allow you to control every aspect of the passing game. Some are more useful than others, and long time Madden players might need to retrain their brain to take full advantage of these mechanics, but to be sure, it’s a positive step in the right direction.”
Ray Carsillo, EGM Now (9/10)
Madden NFL 16 is the best game the franchise has seen in quite some time. It provides fun pick-up and play options along with changes in gameplay mechanics that the hardcore players have been waiting literal years for. And what a concept, an EA Sports game that adds new modes instead of cutting old ones out.
Adam Rosenberg, Mashable
Franchise mode — where you cultivate an existing team or player (or create one of your own) through one or more seasons — introduces individual and team goals … The goals are numerous, and smartly integrated into the in-game text crawl at the bottom of the screen. They’re always in your face, tempting you to move your game in different directions. They’re also numerous enough that you enjoy a steady drip-feed of XP throughout a franchise season, though the cost of upgrading one stat or another remains excessively high (a longtime issue with Madden’s player progression).