Madden NFL 24 review for Xbox Series X, PS5, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: PS5, PC
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

The NFL season just kicked off and I’m writing this following yet another Broncos loss, so give me a bit of leeway. Usually my annual Madden review comes in the middle of August, yet here we are nearly halfway through September and I’m finally putting out my opinion on this year’s release. I was a bit nervous that the good folks at EA did not provide a code prior to release, like they had all of the years since I’ve covered Madden for Gaming Age. Before we get into the actual game, let’s talk cover athlete. This year’s release features Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills on the cover. For many years this would be a death sentence for the Bills as the trend of the cover athlete having a bad season or injury aka “The Madden Curse,” but that has since been kind of broken between Mahomes and Brady, being successful while being featured on the cover multiple times. If I was a Bills fan I still wouldn’t want to be featured on the cover as they have a history of dramatically not making the big game or losing the big game consecutive times. So long story short, good luck to the Bills and Josh Allen this year who open with the NY Jets this year. If it’s a rough season, remember I told you so.

Now onto Madden NFL 24… this isn’t really a difficult one to write or decide. Did/do you own Madden NFL 23? If the answer is yes then you don’t need to even consider buying Madden NFL 24. Upon booting up Madden 24, I thought I opened the wrong game. Everything looks identical to 23. Now that’s not entirely true because the opening video package is different, but once you hit start, the menu is nearly identical. With no new modes you’re looking at the year over year improvements, but what are the actual improvements? I honestly can’t say I’ve seen much. I would recommend going back to my Madden 23 review as many of the things I discussed there, still apply now. They did add some new passing mechanic options, but having played through them briefly, I still prefer the old way. Maybe I’m just too much of an old school fan and don’t like learning new mechanics in my sports games, or maybe it’s my old motto; “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” In my opinion the passing game works just fine, I would have really liked to see some more engine enhancements or dare I say a brand new engine.

So let’s get into the game (get it?)… sorry that was terrible. Starting out, I like to update the rosters and get into a few exhibition games before I dive into the modes, just to get a feel for gameplay. As I said before, if I had screen grabs side-by-side of 23 and 24, you would be hard pressed to consistently tell me which version was which. That’s a big negative when the price of games are now $70 for an annual release, but as I started to play my takeaway changed from “this is just like last year” to “wow, this is actually worse than last year.” The amount of glitches and odd things player models were doing were happening very frequently. Typically this is something that would be resolved with a day one patch, but as I mentioned earlier, I received this code from EA after the release of the game and these issues are still lingering. As of this writing on the first Sunday of the NFL season, some of these issues are still persistent.

Now for my annual campaigning for the use of the ESPN license or for that matter any TV style presentation. The commentary has gotten long in the tooth. I’m getting rerun audio in nearly every single game and many times I’m getting audio that doesn’t match the actual in-game situations. That has expanded from the in-game commentary to the half time around the league recap from The Coach, Jonathan Coachman (of WWE fame). The Dolphins were beating the home team Chargers, but Coach made sure to mention how the home team were dominating. It’s just not working on so many levels. It’s time to cleanse this franchise and start anew like Ra’s al Ghul. Why not feature TV presentation with announcers from some of the biggest prime time games? 2K and Sony has done it for years with their sports titles, EA is just doing the bare minimum at this point and needs to be held accountable.

What else is there to talk about? We have Madden Ultimate Team mode, Franchise, Superstar, a few other modes. They’re all essentially the same as they were last year. If there’s anything I’m not noticing, it’s minor and nothing that would stand out to say; “Wow, I need this year’s Madden!” But wait there is an added mode, Paul. How could you forget the minigames?! Yes this year the minigames have returned. On the field practice drills has returned and it’s something that should have never left and again it’s not anything for which someone would buy this year’s installment. I can go back to the GameCube iterations and play these same minigames with the legends from that era. Where is the NFL Street or NFL Blitz style modes? Anything that could actually add value, because this is just a lazy cash grab.

Year in and year out, its 3 yard gain on first down then a 10 yard sack on second down and we’re caught in 3rd and long. Just when we think EA is righting the ship on Madden, we get this lazy borderline rerelease of the previous year’s iteration. It’s clear the NFL doesn’t care about the quality of their games, as long as you’re not making “after the play hits” for which the Blitz franchise was famous. No one is holding the developers and publishers accountable anymore and the only way to see change is by voting with your wallet. Don’t buy this year’s release of Madden. Even if you didn’t grab Madden 23 last season, go pick it up used and update the in-game roster. EA should be embarrassed passing along Madden NFL 24 as a brand new release for $70. Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.

Note: EA provided us with a Madden NFL 24 code for review purposes.

Grade: D