Madden NFL 21: Expert Review Scores and Fan Reaction

Theo SalaunContributor IIIAugust 30, 2020

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, greets coach John Harbaugh during NFL football training camp Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Whether you ask fans or experts, the reviews of Madden NFL 21 are not inspiring. Among the general public, reactions to the game exist on either side of the emotional spectrum but rarely in between. Among professional critics, reviews stray from the extremes and settle on the game being unexciting but acceptable.

It's a new game for the new season that many have been eagerly anticipating. Playbooks are supposed to be revamped. Gameplay mechanics are supposed to have reached new levels of depth. There's even a new mode, The Yard, that allows you to invoke some NFL Street-style energy, customize players and enjoy some less traditional football.

In a perfect world, Madden NFL 21's offerings suggest the game could bring both the most genuine version of NFL football we have ever seen and, on the contrary, the pinnacle of arcade, backyard football.

Instead, people think the new mode was a fun idea but that the game has simply disappointed in almost every other respect.

At the time of writing, there are 625 fan reviews of Madden NFL 21 on Google. According to Google's audience rating summary, the vast majority of those reviews have pinned the game at 1 out of 5 stars. A full 5 stars was the second-most selected option. Still, the site's aggregate sets the latest Madden at 1.8 stars.

While many of the reviews use language that is a little too colorful to include here, chief complaints range from bugs and microtransactions to an overarching feeling of uselessness as a player in a game dictated by animations and AI behavior. Metacritic's user score, based on 775 reviews, doesn't paint a happier picture, as the site's aggregate drops the game off for consideration at a measly 0.4 out of 10.

But it's not all scathing. Some fans on Google are encouraged by the game's graphics, animations and, overwhelmingly, the creativity engendered by The Yard. Overall, of those who elected to simply give the game a thumbs up or down instead of a specific rating, 52 percent of Google users appear to like the title. 

And that 52 percent mark isn't far off from the majority of expert reviews. Madden 21's Metascore, based on 14 expert reviews, lists the game as a 65 out of 100. Of those reviews, Gamespot's Steven Petite seems to have summed up the general consensus.

Petite sums up The Yard as "the best new Madden game mode in more than a decade," but highlighted that "the on-the-field gameplay doesn't do much to move the series forward and is hampered by surprising technical issues."

It's entirely possible that EA Sports will begin following the path paved by the world's biggest titles, like Overwatch and Call of Duty, and respond to community feedback and patch out bugs at a steadier pace. If that's the case, the general reactions should lean more positively. For now, though, users seem disappointed and the critics seem mildly impressed.