Each year, each team should review what they currently have and compare that with what they need to achieve their goals. This year, EA Tiburon used their offseason to fine tune gameplay, add a new arcade-style experience, and upgrade their career mode. But just like an average football team, Madden NFL 21 isn’t quite ready for a run for playoff glory. Getting on the pitch with your teammates, calling up games and working together to gain ground remains exciting. The action on the pitch, which was largely solid last year, has only improved. I love the new rush passing skill stick, which allows you to be more fluid in your attempts to pass offensive linemen. While not as revolutionary for ball carriers, the Skill Stick gives you more control over the moves you make when dodging potential tacklers. Defenders are more aware and precise in getting you down in this iteration, and my offensive players were more likely to reach out to get in close first, adding realism and easing the frustration of previous years. These improvements are minimal, but they go a long way in making playing in all modes more enjoyable. The film career mode, Face of the Franchise, returns with an extensive pre-NFL experience, but the longer high school and college preamble only sets you back on reaching the NFL main event. The story and the presentation are unfortunately not aware of what is going on; it was laughable that even when I blew each team 50 or more points, there was still a battle for the starting position. Narratively, the story is full of unkind characters, ranging from your snippy friend and rival to your terrible college coach, and the faces in the cutscenes are definitely meant to be covered in football helmets. Once you’ve entered the NFL, the mode happily resumes. Rather than playing all the games, Face of the Franchise puts you in three or four pivotal games per season that play a big role in determining your legacy. These important moments are presented through story arcs. I’ve loved navigating these arcs, which range from leading a stacked squad of all-star Super Bowl players to dealing with a performance-hampering injury, but I’ve often been annoyed by how little my performance has really contributed to my team’s season. These arcs present you with fun scenarios off the pitch, like talking to your rival about trash to get a stat boost (but also triggering a key defender), or answering a question at a teammate press conference to affect his morale. However, even in the NFL, the narrative struggles to recognize what is happening on the field; my all-time great run with the Ravens ended abruptly when the team decided to replace me with a terrible save. While Face of the Franchise has received a myriad of changes, the series’ standard franchise mode has been largely overlooked. Taking command of a team in hopes of creating the next great dynasty remains exciting, but I’m disappointed with the lack of upgrades. It’s often my go-to mode in Madden, but it looks almost identical to last year’s offerings. You can build an online league to bring the franchise mode into the multiplayer realm or immerse yourself in the card-based Ultimate Team mode with options like seasons and MUT teams, but the online sequel to Madden NFL 21 remains largely focused on quick one-off competitions. From standard one-on-one multiplayer to fast-firing 5-minute Superstar KOs, you can certainly still step into the online sequel with the mentality of getting your fix and moving on with no long-term commitment. term. Madden NFL 21 also features The Yard, a backyard football-inspired mode, where 6v6, changed rules, and all players play on both sides of the ball. I enjoy reminders to the style of football I played with my family and friends as a kid. Since there is no offensive line, the quarterback cannot jostle unless a defender blitzes, the defense operating under a “One-Mississippi” rule to cross the line of scrimmage. Throw other things that aren’t in the NFL, like stuff with multiple passes, slamming the ball straight to any player on your team, and sleek throws behind the back and between the legs, and The Yard rightly differentiates itself from action on the NFL gridiron. While the mode offers unique offline challenges to complement and entertain one-on-one online play, the customizable nature of players’ outfits often makes it difficult to differentiate between the two teams. Every time you jump into a game you select a prototype, which essentially acts as a loadout for your player in that game. These prototypes are modeled after some of the biggest stars in the NFL like Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr., and increase as you use them. I loved adding extra skills to my favorite prototypes, but the trickle of unlocks and the ambiguity of what I was actually earning – both with the prototypes and the mode’s cosmetics – made it less rewarding. Unfortunately, several groundbreaking visual issues occur in all modes, including invisible players on the sidelines, players teleporting in front of your eyes to participate in a touchdown celebration, and players who constantly walk in and cut each other out after play. These issues aren’t limited to the pitch though, as even the cutscenes and menus feature glittering text, repeated dialogue, and my face of the franchise player with the wrong college listed on his profile despite the long stretch of this focused mode. university. . Those looking for a huge step forward in EA Sports’ soccer franchise won’t find it with Madden NFL 21. However, despite its lack of major upgrades, Madden NFL 21 is still a mechanically healthy and fun soccer game. .