EA Sports is dialling up the realism for Madden NFL 21 on the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 consoles, using real-world stats.
The NFL’s Next Gen Stats will integrate data from the RFID chips worn on the field on player’s shoulder pads in real NFL games, but only for the brand new consoles launching this month.
The new data is coming exclusively to the next-gen machines and will integrate states like speed, acceleration and body movement from the NFL’s biggest stars. The data comes from the entirety of the 2019 season and part of this season and, we assume, will continue to benefit the game’s AI over time.
EA Sports says this will mean player animations will be more lifelike, wide receivers will run routes like they do on NFL Sundays and line-backers will go after quarterbacks with their signature style (via IGN), for example.
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The next-gen stats have generally been used to improve television courage as well as analysis of NFL games, but this seems to be a real breakthrough for sporting games, which goes way beyond in-game players simply looking like, celebrating like, and carrying some of the traits of their real-world counterparts.
EA Creative Director Connor Dougan says “feel like a completely different game” with “a gameplay experience that feels as close to NFL football as possible.”
The integration of Next Gen Stats isn’t the only improvement coming to this version of the game. Afterthoughts like sidelines, crowds and stadiums are getting a long overdue visual boost in the next-gen versions. For example, the players on the sidelines will now be actual players, rather than generic characters (via Polygon). From a gameplay standpoint. there’ll also be the opportunity to bookmark your favourite plays.
Madden NFL 21 was a poorly received edition for current-gen consoles and it’s unlikely these changes are going to do too much to save this year’s stale instalment. However, when Madden NFL 22 rolls around it might be a different ball game.
Those who’ve already purchased Madden NFL 21 for the current-gen consoles will receive a free upgrade for the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions.