The regular version dropped Friday—the Hall of Fame edition landed three days prior—meaning all interested gamers have access to arguably the best-looking, most-responsive installment to date.
This year's game is less about reinventing the wheel than it is fine-tuning what already exists. There are additions of course (Longshot: Homecoming, new ways of playing Ultimate Team), but the primary focus seemed to be on improving the overall gameplay.
That's most apparent in the upgraded presentation, benefitting both from a second year with the Frostbite Engine and a first go-round with EA Sports' Real Player Motion technology. But reviewers and fans have lauded a number of new treats for gridiron gamers to digest.
Expert Review Scores
Bradley Russell, GamesRadar: 4.5/5
New bells and whistles might make for easy selling points, but as Russell observed, EA Sports' commitment to improving the on-field portion of the product has paid tremendous dividends.
"The actual football is the star of the show," Russell wrote. "While the game is relatively restrained in terms of bells and whistles, it's the minutiae that'll capture the hearts and minds of the Madden crowd."
What does that mean, exactly? Gamers are given a more lifelike recreation of what NFL fans see every week.
"No longer does Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette run like any old Joe Schmoe, nor the shiftier James White carry with him the heft of a stocky running back," Russell noted. "Each player—within reason—plays just how you'd expect them to, right down to certain quarterbacks and their superstitious routines before grabbing hold of the pigskin."
Dustin Toms, IGN: 8.9/10
The responsiveness of the Real Player Motion system earns high marks for almost everyone, Toms included. Not only are the changes of speed and direction useful means of eluding defenders, they look like natural movements.
Toms was less impressed with the sequel to Longshot, opining that an effort to get more gameplay into the mode perhaps resulted in only mundane drill work.
"This second slice of the Devin and Colt show feels forced and cliche," Toms wrote. "It left me feeling like the opportunity to build something special was wasted. Despite its brisk three-hour runtime, it's still a few hours I wish I could get back."
That said, Toms championed the arrival of customizable draft classes in franchise mode and said the introduction of defensive and offensive schemes should make it simpler for casual fans to build rosters that make sense.
All in all, Toms feels this version leaves Madden "in a great place."
As the score might indicate, Kato wasn't overwhelmed with this iteration, but he added, "it makes enough changes and proves enough to avoid the 'roster update' tag."
From a gameplay standpoint, Kato appreciated the challenge of passing in this version. He said incompletions are more frequent, and he believes that's a good thing.
"QBs cause some of this with their throws, but sometimes it's because a receiver can't hold on to the ball after contact," Kato wrote. "You have to make sure you understand the coverages and where the soft spots in the zone are otherwise you're asking for it."
Drops and misfires are frustrating, but that's football. If you see it on Sundays (or Mondays, Thursdays and eventually Saturdays), you'll likely see it in Madden.
"Madden's animations often merge with gameplay, representing the quintessence of football in both small details and vivid representations," Kato wrote. "The big hits, for sure, but also when cornerbacks drape on receivers and poke the ball out."
"Madden 19 is noticeably better than 18 when you play it," user Phillygamer wrote. "It is not perfect, but it is more fun to play. ... I feel like this will be a game even six months from now, you will still want to play."
Over in the Twittersphere, cover athlete Antonio Brown did some well-deserved flexing while scoring as himself—against his son:
Four-time Pro Bowler Kurt Warner wondered aloud why he didn't have any Madden codes to disperse:
Madden Pro Drini Gjoka of compLexity Gaming lauded the improvements to the running game and the player progression system in Ultimate Team:
compLexity Gaming @compLexity
Not sure what to expect from @EAMaddenNFL's new #Madden19? Our very own @YoungDrini knows about a couple of things to be excited about! For more Madden content check out his Twitch & YouTube channels! #coLMadden 📺: https://t.co/CrQxYFpFJ5 🎞️: https://t.co/bObJ7cBL2D https://t.co/Zi8R0zjbV2
User @ScriptsByJames credited the folks at EA Sports with their finest work in the series:
And, as user Matt McGavic gladly pointed out, Madden 19 means the Lamar Jackson era is here:
Granted, no game is perfect, and you won't find many gamers claiming Madden 19 deserves that label.
As is the case with most sequels, Homecoming hasn't been received as well as the original Longshot was. And while the option to edit draft classes was a welcome (albeit overdue) addition, some feel the franchise mode could have received more attention in other areas.
Still, there's more positive reaction than negative, and it's hard to find many complaints with the actual football portion of this game.