While the American football season is still very much up in the air, EA Sports has kept trucking along with the release of Madden NFL 21. The franchise hasn't been overhauled in decades, rather it has been upgraded year on year and this is no different.
Gameplay remains largely the same. Play calling hasn't changed and the general dynamics aren't entirely different, however, there has been changes to the way you block. Now you only have a certain amount of moves per play, which diminish your energy. You can no longer burst through a line by just bashing buttons, instead you must be more methodical with your approach.
The biggest addition is a new feature called 'The Yard'. It allows you to take a break from the field and immerses you in the world of gritty backyard football. This new mode has given a lease of life to the franchise, much like the Volta game mode for FIFA.
Face of the Franchise, the story-driven create a player game mode, makes a return this year. You work your way up through the NFL, experiencing the ups and downs of being a pro athlete along the way. The linear aspect of this mode feels a little static at times.
Madden Ultimate Team also makes a welcome return. This gives gamers the ability to build up teams with their favourite stars, and play against others online or against the computer. What I love about Madden's version is the offline challenges that can be blitzed in order to better your team. They're challenging, enjoyable and have enough variation to keep you coming back for more.
It wouldn't be Madden without franchise mode, but this year is different. Players were tired of the general bugginess of the previous version, so #FixMaddenFranchise became a popular trend last year. It seems EA Sports has listened to the outcries and focused on developing the mode more than they have in a long time. It's still not perfect but the growth is visible.
Madden NFL 21 has enough content to keep you playing for the year, even if lots of the NFL's biggest stars won't be.
New arrivals Switch on
The Nintendo Switch is a brilliant console when you've got the right game, but too often has it been left in the dark as far as new releases are concerned. It feels like an eternity since Super Mario: Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That's why the Nintendo Direct showcases are so important. They offer the chance to see what's coming up soon on the Switch.
Last week, a Nintendo Direct Mini dropped. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 was probably the biggest announcement, which allows you to battle it out over the two classic games. It's will feature a four player competitive mode in a first for the series.
The vibrant Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory was showcased. This rhythmic action game combined the best moments from the Kingdom of Hearts series with some of the most iconic ones from Disney over the last ten years. The game looks somewhat like a Guitar Hero game, where you have to tap to the beat to win.
Ubisoft's Just Dance 2021 is just around the corner too, with 40 brand new tracks to shake your body to. It is expected to be released in November on Switch.