NFL Madden 23 Review: The Most Complete On-Field Experience
Madden NFL 23 hits the field with new features and a plethora of gameplay refinements, my full review.
Madden NFL 23 hits the field with a new look and feel thanks to core gameplay improvements. The game plays better than ever, making it the most immersive and realistic football experience on next-gen consoles yet. While all aspects of the game aren't perfect, if you are a football purist, you'll be extremely please with how refined the action on the field feels. Whether you're taking on friends in multiplayer or trying to build a dynasty in career mode, Madden NFL 23 is sure to keep you entertained for hours on end, let's hit the gridiron and explore all that the game has to offer.
Madden NFL 23 Details
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Publisher(s): EA Sports
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Madden 23 honours the memory of the late, great John Madden
Madden NFL 23 is dedicated to the memory of legendary football coach and commentator John Madden. Madden was a true pioneer in the world of football, and his influence can be seen in every aspect of the game today. From the way players are coached to how the game is played, Madden's legacy is prevalent.
"From the way players are coached to how the game is played, Madden's legacy is prevalent."
And with Madden NFL 23, EA Tiburon has created the ultimate on-field experience that captures everything that made Madden so great.
The Madden Legacy
In honor of the NFL legend, play through a one-of-a-kind experience featuring coach John Madden himself – from different eras – with teams made up of some of Coach's favorite players. This all starts from the moment you boot up the game. You play an exhibition game between NFL legends that acts as a history lesson for the league. The game does a fantastic job of setting the tone for what's to come. The level of detail is incredible, with each player looking and feeling unique.
The look and feel of different NFL eras
The new animations are amazing, making the action on the field look and feel more realistic than ever before. Madden NFL 23 from a technical and historical standpoint is a fitting tribute to one of the most important figures in sports history.
"Madden NFL 23 from a technical and historical standpoint is a fitting tribute to one of the most important figures in sports history."
It was amazing to see him immortalized in his own gaming series in such fitting manner.
Madden 23's gameplay improvements
Before diving into all the gameplay changes I experienced, it's worth mentioning they are exclusive to next-gen hardware in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions. The FieldSENSE next-gen gameplay system delivers excellent accuracy and realistic outcomes to each play. Gameplay-wise, Madden NFL 23 is the most realistic football game to date.
"Gameplay-wise, Madden NFL 23 is the most realistic football game to date."
The on-field action is incredibly fluid, with players moving naturally and realistically. The physics engine ensures that every tackle and block looks and feels unique. In addition, the AI has been significantly improved, providing a real challenge for even the most seasoned veterans. There are also a ton of new animations and visual flair that bring the game to life.
The best part of Madden 23: FieldSENSE
New FieldSENSE improvements offer the biggest changes, and the best reason to experience Madden 23. They really help to make the formula more fun and accurate than ever before. I never felt cheated by a blown coverage or bad call. If anything, it's the complete opposite. I often found myself in positions to make huge plays because of the improved AI and realistic player movements.
"I often found myself in positions to make huge plays because of the improved AI and realistic player movements."
The new animations also lend themselves to more realistic play. For example, you'll see wide receivers use their body to shield defenders on jump balls, and running backs will lower their shoulder to power through tackles. These small touches make a big difference in how the game is played.
A refined gridiron experience
The on-field action in Madden NFL 23 is some of the best I've ever experienced in a football series. Players move realistically, with a sense of weight and momentum that's unmatched. The AI has been significantly improved, providing a real challenge for even the most seasoned veterans. There is a new passing controls with an accuracy meter that gives you more control over your throws.
Face of the Franchise sees meaningful improvements
The second biggest improvement this year is to Face of the Franchise: The League. If you are not familiar with the mode it's a RPG-style career mode that follows your created player through the ranks of college football all the way to the NFL. This year is different as you are no longer a rookie and can sign with a team of your choice right away.
"This year is different as you are no longer a rookie and can sign with a team of your choice right away."
The story is engaging, but it has been refocused on the gameplay. I was fully invested in my character's journey from start to finish trying to reach the 99 Club. Players also have a new position they can opt for this year in Cornerback.
While you're not on the field, there are still many things you can do to stay engaged such as charity work, hanging out with teammates, or working out. The gameplay in Face of the Franchise has also been greatly improved. You'll have some unique challenges to overcome during your career. These range from on-field objectives to off-field tasks, and they do a great job of making you feel like you're part of a living, breathing world. Face of the Franchise isn't without its flaws, there are still graphical hitches and hiccups, especially in cutscenes models walk through walls.
"Face of the Franchise isn't without its flaws, there are still graphical hitches and hiccups, especially in cutscenes models walk through walls."
It's unfortunate, as it breaks the immersion of the experience, but the gameplay is solid carrying over the FieldSENSE improvements.
Franchise mode is deeper but has some flaws
In Madden NFL 23's Franchise mode you can lead your team to glory from the comfort of your front office, making all the big decisions. There are new motivations for athletes, like salary demands and favourable warmer climates that come into play during contract negotiations.
"There are new motivations for athletes, like salary demands and favourable warmer climates that come into play during contract negotiations."
Unfortunately, the CPU doesn't always know how to handle these new additions and the amount of players that rush to the market seems a little unrealistic. Despite these flaws, Franchise mode still has a lot of depth and provides a ton of value for those looking to sink their teeth in for the long haul.
The other big new addition to Franchise mode is the streamlined scouting hub. It's a huge improvement over previous iterations, making it much easier to get an overview of your team and where you need to improve. You can also scout upcoming opponents to devise a gameplan.
Madden Ultimate Team is as addictive as ever
Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) is back and it's as addictive as ever. For those not familiar with MUT, it's a mode where you create your ultimate team of players by collecting cards. These cards can be earned through solo challenges, playing against others online, or by purchasing packs with real-world money. The downside is the experience can be very grindy, or be very reliant on micro-transactions to build a great team in a timely manner.
Madden 23's Graphics and Performance
Madden NFL 23 is the best-looking football game to date. The players and stadiums are incredibly detailed, and the game really comes to life on next-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. There is a more realistic look on next-gen consoles because players and their gear have been scanned and updated.
"The players and stadiums are incredibly detailed, and the game really comes to life on next-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X."
This, along with player and coach likenesses, and player body types have seen improvements. There are also new presentation packages before games and between plays that help to deliver a fresh look and feel to Madden.
As well as the game performs I experienced a few bugs and animation hitches during my time with the game. These were mostly confined to cutscenes, and after play concluded but it's still worth mentioning.
Madden 23's audio and sound design
The audio in Madden NFL 23 is some of the best I've ever heard in a football game. The crowd sounds realistic, and the on-field audio has been captured beautifully. The announcers, Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis, do a great job of calling the action and adding excitement to the experience. The pair have been together since Madden 17, and have great chemistry, and a few more lines and colour commentary have been added. John Madden himself will also drop-in the odd time in Madden 23, but only during key moments. Overall, the sound design is impressive and does a great job of immersing you in the game.
"Overall, the sound design is impressive and does a great job of immersing you in the game."
Final thoughts on Madden 23
Madden 23 has some of the most addictive gameplay I've experienced in a football game. The new improvements to FieldSENSE offer an incredibly polished feel, that's a joy to play. Franchise mode has some great depth, but it can be marred by a few unrealistic CPU decisions. The game looks and sounds fantastic, however, I did experience a few bugs during my time with the game. Despite these issues, Madden 23 is the best football game on the market and is well worth your time.
Madden NFL 23 PROS
+On-field gameplay with is excellent with FieldSENSE improvements
+AI is more challenging and a lot better this season
+Madden legacy is reflected in the experience
Madden NFL 23 CONS
-Madden Ultimate Team still has an over reliance on micro transactions
-Minor upgrades to game modes
-Animation glitches and cutscene bugs were prevalent
Overall Rating: 29.5/40 (74%)
A copy of the game was provided by Electronics Arts for the purpose of this review.
About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of dappertux.com, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on twitter, Instagram and join in on the fun!
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