Again straddling the console-generation gap by appearing on old and new systems alike, this year's version of the sports juggernaut promises major changes to some beloved modes and more realistic gameplay on the field.
The cover itself says it all:
It should be no great shocker to hear that both Brady, whose Tampa Bay Buccaneers bested Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, and his co-cover star, are two of the highest-rated players in the game.
Mahomes checks in as one of five players in the so-called "99 club" this year:
- Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Aaron Donald, DL, Los Angeles Rams
- Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams
Brady is two spots lower at a 97 overall rating behind the 98s given to Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin, Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill. Every rating in the game and full rosters are available at EA Sports.
Beyond the superficial hyped items above during the pre-release stretch, the big focus this year seems to be on the beefed-up features of various modes.
Franchise mode, for example, gets some love in the form of more in-depth staff management, complete with skill trees for coaches. There are also more in-depth weekly systems such as game prep, which includes having control over the types and intensity of practices, all of which vary based on the type of opponent the team faces that week.
The goal is a unique experience each week. In the past, franchise mode would start to blend together as every week felt the same. It's maybe not the dramatic overhaul some players wanted, but it's a big step in the right direction, and the team plans to add more to the mode during the game's lifespan.
Face of the Franchise, the single-player campaign, also returns with some souped-up items for players to check out. The Road to the Draft is a big-budget experience where player choice has an impact on the where, how and why of getting selected near the top of the draft order.
And once in the NFL, the mode goes even deeper into the RPG side with a new class progression system, explained by EA Sports:
"Each Class features three Superstar Abilities and one X-Factor ability for you to unlock as you level up in that Class. These abilities play into how you perform on the field and can even be customized to your specific playstyle and needs. Each Class can equip Superstar and X-Factor Abilities earned from other Classes if they have been unlocked. The more you play, the more you can customize."
Mode staples like The Yard and Ultimate Team didn't go without noteworthy changes, either.
Over in The Yard, avatar progression gets shared with Face of the Franchise, so leveling up in one levels up the player's character in the other, too. The Yard also features its own solo campaign this year, which features the player globe-hopping against various teams with unique challenges and working on earning rewards and recruiting new players to their squad.
The collection-frenzy that is Ultimate Team still features a smooth tutorial for new players, revamped menus and even the ability to track stats tallied by a card that was previously owned by another player.
As always, Madden 22 will boast a ton of different game modes that appeal to a broad spectrum of players. Those who want to collect and compete can hop in Ultimate Team, while those who want more solo experiences can play campaign modes. And those who want to get away from the simulation side of things can embrace the arcade with The Yard and Superstar KO.
Seemingly as versatile as the NFL's most dangerous weapons, it won't be long before players can get their hands on the latest release and see if it matches expectations.