How do you make anything better the 41st time around? It’s no small feat, but Madden 23 aims to do just that. The latest iteration of EA’s juggernaut football franchise looks to continue its annual reign of domination with a whole new suite of tools for armchair quarterbacks to take their teams to the next level. The team at EA has implemented some fundamental changes to the game’s core mechanics, like better coverage on the field, simplified playbooks, and a reworked franchise mode.
While many previous iterations of Madden have seen incremental changes to the game’s visuals, rosters, and secondary modes, there’s a surprising amount of new content coming in the latest installment. Whether you’re a Madden hall-of-famer or more of a redshirt freshman to the series, you’ll likely find something refreshing here. And a lot of that comes down to FieldSense, a suite of four new features intended to give players more control over every aspect of the game. Here’s everything we know about the changes in store for Madden 23.
4. Hit Everything
In past Madden titles, tackles and sacks sometimes didn’t look very realistic. Hampered by the technology and resources available, these encounters often fell short of the real-world visual impact of a bunch of hefty, jacked dudes doling out hits at full speed. Madden 23 incorporates new technology to recreate realistic outcomes when players collide. For instance, if your wide receiver gets dragged down by three players on defense, he will fall down in whatever direction he would in real life.
Mid-air knockouts will feature improved physics, with players on defense catching the ball straight out of the air. It doesn’t always mean you’ll drop the ball (or they’ll catch it) but it adds a new level of strategy that wasn’t there before.
The new system uses momentum and over 3,500 new animations to show a realistic portrayal of on-field damage. This should make every down feel different, injecting a much-needed jolt of variety and kineticism into the core gameplay loop.
3. Skill-Based Passing
There’s no feeling worse than having your quarterback chuck a perfect spiral down the field, only to have the ball dropped by mindless AI. The new Skill-Based Passing system might not help you land every single pass, but it will give you a bit more control. It takes some getting used to, but once you understand the basics it will allow you to throw fakeout passes and make more precise plays.
When you hold down the left trigger during a pass, a small circle will appear on the field with an even smaller reticle inside. You can control where that reticle goes inside the circle to see if your receiver can catch it at that exact spot. A passing meter will help your QB a better pass — if you manage to time right.
The reticle will not be viewable by your opponent if you are playing online, but it’s impossible to hide in couch co-op. If you prefer to keep your passing game old-school, the feature can be turned off.
2. Three-Sixty Cuts
When you are carrying the ball down the field, you want to be able to avoid your opponent’s defense as much as possible. Previous Madden games haven’t given you much control of your player's movements, but the Three-Sixty Cuts feature in Madden 23 looks to give you an extra edge.
When running with the ball, you can hold down Left Trigger and flick the control stick to spin around enemies like a burly ballerina. This gives you the opportunity to bob and weave the enemy backline and score more points. It’s a simple system, but it adds a new level of gameplay that wasn’t possible before.
1. Wide Receiver vs. Defensive Back
New wide receiver release moves and defensive back counters also help give Madden 23 a unique feel — you’ll be able to shut down plays with brand-new systems that allow for more control and maneuverability of the ball.
Stand-up tackles, a new mini quick time event that can change the outcome of a rush, also change up the familiar flow of a drive downfield. When two opposing players clash on the field, you’ll be prompted to press a button a number of times in order to win. The number of button presses needed depends on the matchup of players. If you have a massive linebacker pushing up against a scrawny wide receiver, you may only need a single input to move him aside. But if you are that lithe little speed demon, it may take you five button presses to win.
This level of immersion at various positions might not appeal to more casual players, but for the many longtime Madden fans out there, FieldSense offers a promising new riff on a beloved familiar formula.
Madden 23 comes out on August 19 on PC and consoles.