The Madden 21 release date is here at last – on PS4 and Xbox One, that is. Madden 21 hit those current-gen formats on Friday 28 August, but there's still a wait for it to land on PS5 and Xbox Series X. Because, you know, those consoles aren't out yet. Best book the entirety of December off just to be sure, yeah? Below is all you need to know about this year's helmet-'em-up, including two trailers and Face Of The Franchise info. Consider this your one-stop Madden 21 guide.
Madden 21 trailer 1: see it on PS5 and XBox Series X
EA Play Live in June delivered the first next-gen trailer for Madden 21 – and its weather effects look sensational. It's shared with FIFA 21, and you can view it below.
Madden 21 trailer 2: first look at gameplay here
Shortly before the EA Play Live event in June, the mega-publisher unleashed the first Madden 21 trailer to feature actual gameplay - taken from PS4 and Xbox One. Tap the big rectangle below to watch.
Madden 21 release date: current-gen in August, next-gen in December
The next-gen versions of Madden 21 are to be released in time for Christmas. Both PS5 and Xbox Series X are currently scheduled for ‘Holiday 2020’. You won't have to wait so long for the current-gen editions: they're out right now, in three different flavours: Standard, Deluxe, and MVP. You can see a full breakdown of what's in each package in our look at all the key Madden 21 features.
EA has confirmed that those who buy Madden 21 on Xbox One or PS4 can upgrade to the Xbox Series X or PS5 version free of charge. More info on that at the official EA website.
Madden 21 gameplay: what to expect
Again, head to our comprehensive Madden 21 features breakdown to see exactly what's on offer this year. The new 'skill stick' adds new moves and tricks to your offensive repertoire, although EA needs to be careful that it doesn't turn Madden into an arcade game. Thankfully, defenses also get an upgrade with three different types of tackling: “location-based, breakdown, and improved dive tackling.”
The next-gen versions are unlikely to revolutionise an entire sport on day one. Previous launch editions have prioritised visuals over new mechanics, with devs still learning their way around new tech. This isn’t a rarity in the sports genre: both FIFA 21 and NBA 2K21 are likely to place a similar focus on panache over substance.
"Feel Next Level" is the game's official slogan on Xbox Series X and PS5, with stats-driven player movement underpinning the action. "Real-life athlete data feeds into the Madden animation engine to create fluid, athletic player movement when accelerating, running routes, and changing direction," says EA.
As demonstrated by the trailer, 8K visuals are likely to make for spectacular hits, touchdowns and tantrums. "Reimagined player bodies" are promised, alongside deferred lighting and rendering. Improved audio is on the docket too, with EA seeking to provide authentic crowd noise when you emerge onto the field at Lambeau Field or Mercedez-Benz Stadium.
Madden 21 cover star: Lamar Jackson says hi
Madden 20 cover vote winner Patrick Mahomes smashed the Madden curse in picking up this year’s Super Bowl MVP award, but EA never repeats its cover stars - so someone new will front Madden 21. Specifically, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. A shock play-off defeat to the Titans crushed his Super Bowl hopes, but he was nonetheless the league’s best player during the regular season, and his mix of arm accuracy and ridiculous ground speed are perfect videogame attributes. Remember Michael Vick’s cheat-player years? Jackson is even better.
You can watch Jackson confirm his cover appearance below.
Lamar says he'll be on the cover of Madden: pic.twitter.com/bPtzFBIlVIApril 21, 2020
Madden 21 Face Of The Franchise: get ready to begin again
Superstar X-Factors and Face Of The Franchise were the big new series additions last year, and both are back this year - although the always-opinionated Madden audience wanted to see them tweaked. For example, Patient-Scale on Reddit outlines some sensible ways to improve Face Of The Franchise. “Make the college story and portion of the game longer,” he writes. “At least if [your guy] only plays his senior season make it more than two games. Add more cut-scenes from after college to before the draft.”
That wish is granted. Face Of The Franchise: Rise To Fame sees you start over as a high school quarterback looking to win a State Championship. You then get two seasons trying to win the college football play-offs before jumping into a full-on NFL career. In a cool change, you can switch positions to running back or wide receiver while at college. 50 new X-Factors are also included.
Madden 21 college teams: will we see more?
For many, the best element of Madden 20 was the outset of Face Of The Franchise. Here you got to briefly play as one of ten college teams en route to the NFL: Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, Clemson, Miami and Florida State. Fan reaction was wholly positive, and with Face Of The Franchise expanded to two play-off campaigns, there are two new additions this year.
Michigan State and Nebraska are the colleges added to Madden 21, although that good news brings some bad with it: Florida State and Texas Tech are out.
"Once you set foot on campus the stakes [ramp up] as you not only have to deftly navigate a Quarterback controversy right out of the gate, but also have to figure out how to appease your domineering Head Coach Red O’Brien – all while attempting to build your draft stock through two challenging seasons of college football AND win an College Football Playoff Championship (or two) along the way," says EA. "As if that weren’t enough, you’re thrown out of your comfort zone and into disarray when Coach O’Brien delivers you an ultimatum – either switch positions to Running Back or Wide Receiver, or pack your bags and take your chances in the NFL Draft."