John Madden’s greatness in the annals of professional football is unmatched. That’s why there’s a widely popular and iconic video game that uses his name.
So when the NFL Hall of Fame coach and broadcasting legend died at the age of 85 in December, it was only right that he be chosen to grace the cover of Madden NFL 23 from EA Sports.
Normally, there would be another personality to share the cover of the game, but in this case, Madden stands alone.
One of the most talked about innovations arriving on the August 19 release date is the Face of the Franchise feature. It updates the created player storyline, fast-forwarding to the player's fifth year in the NFL instead of enduring the prologue of high school and college.
"There was a lot of feedback about the prologue, or Road to the Draft, whatever you want to call it," gameplay producer Clint Oldenburg said during an interview, per Owen S. Good at Polygon. "It was like, ‘I want to go play in the NFL; get me there.’ And, this is a big headline, ‘The narrative feels aimless and pointless and lacking context,’ something like that. That was in one of the reviews."
With no college or draft storylines, players can get to The League and start at the end of their player's rookie contract, so they can sign a one-year deal with their team of choice and begin playing their career-defining season.
Another major update is FieldSENSE, which equips players with more control at every position in every mode. It also sets the foundation for what the game's creators are calling "ultra-realistic" gameplay driven by physics-driven outcomes on the field.
Outside of the changes in the mechanics of the game, there's the updated list of players in the coveted "99 Club."
𝐏𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝐃𝐎𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 😤 <br><br>Aaron Donald is in the 99 Club for the 6th straight year 💪<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Madden23?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Madden23</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/EAMaddenNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EAMaddenNFL</a> <a href="https://t.co/miC7IIdtAL">pic.twitter.com/miC7IIdtAL</a>
This year, there are only four players in the club, with only two holdovers from Madden 22: Davante Adams (now with the Las Vegas Raiders) and Aaron Donald, who recently helped the Los Angeles Rams win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium:
Aaron Donald, DL, Los Angeles Rams
Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Myles Garrett, RE, Cleveland Browns
Trent Williams, LT, San Francisco 49ers
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Madden welcomes Davante Adams back into the 99 club for the second straight year 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/brgridiron?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@brgridiron</a> <br><br>He becomes the first Raiders WR to do so since Randy Moss in '06 <a href="https://t.co/cHAoDLdbzp">pic.twitter.com/cHAoDLdbzp</a>
Gone from last year's list are Travis Kelce (TE, Kansas City Chiefs), Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs) and Jalen Ramsey (CB, Los Angeles Rams).
Kelce and Ramsey only took a slight hit, both dropping to 98, while Mahomes dipped quite a bit to 95, which may be the result of losing his top target, Tyreek Hill, to the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
Madden NFL 23 @EAMaddenNFL
Grammy award winning artist is in the booth<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Madden23?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Madden23</a> sounds created by <a href="https://twitter.com/Hit_Boy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Hit_Boy</a> <a href="https://t.co/DEBlWuzwQo">pic.twitter.com/DEBlWuzwQo</a>
Another bonus to Madden 23 is the music, with a litany of songs produced by Grammy Award-winner Hit-Boy.
All told, Madden 23 will feature multiple game modes that will draw in new players and appease loyalists.
By the end of this week, players will be able to take this celebrated game for a test drive and see if it lives up to the hype.