Madden NFL 23 Closed Beta Impressions: Living in Bystander Heaven


EA Sports has the unenviable task of reintroducing Madden to gamers every year. The outlines never change – Madden 23 is a simulation-first football game that is immediately reminiscent of Madden 22, Madden 21, and really every game in the franchise since the Super Nintendo era. But after a few closed beta games over the weekend, it’s clear that EA is slowly but surely addressing some of the difficulties that have plagued the series since the 90s. Madden 23 isn’t likely to convert non- believers, but it should give longtime fans a whole host of new ideas to chew on.

The closed beta only offered the standard quick play mode, which meant I didn’t get a chance to dive into what the studio cooked up for Ultimate Team, Franchise, Superstar KO, and more. But I got to take a look at some of EA’s legitimately inventive ways of shaking up Madden’s fundamentals. The thing you’ll notice first? Passing has become incredibly more intuitive. Madden quarterbacks previously struggled with a fairly limited set of arm movements; we could throw a high-speed pitch or shoot the ball sky-high on deep lanes. Now all of these mechanisms are on a kind of gradient. The pace of your pitches is determined by the exact length of time you hold down the button, and you have a lot more freedom to locate the ball for your receivers. You know how Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams seemed to improvise routes on the fly? It’s a bit like that.

Madden NFL 23 Screens

It took me a little while to get used to the change, but once I figured out the quirks, I came away thinking that Madden 23 opens up a much higher skill cap than previous entries in the franchise. . Your quarterback skills are determined by your skill with your inputs, which is a welcome departure from the dice rolls and animation locks that have left countless fans praying to the mercurial whims of RNG after throwing a hook of button. It makes me excited to try online gaming for the first time in years, if only to see how the best players in the scene take advantage of the extra freedom.

Passing has become incredibly more intuitive.

Honestly, this is an all-around point of attention for Madden 23. EA said Madden’s new tackle animations are more realistic and are less likely to gum up the ball carrier in a cheesy, weird loop. The studio has also loosened restrictions on the movement of running backs, and you don’t feel so funneled into game design anymore. Do you want to make a strong backward cut on a screen pass? Be my guest.

We’ll need to see a lot more of Madden 23 before it deserves judgment, but EA doesn’t seem to be rewriting the book here. It’s the same engine, aesthetic and overall design philosophy that has powered the franchise for generations. That said, Madden 23 seems keen on fixing some long-standing issues that have plagued the game the whole time I’ve played it, and honestly, that’s more exciting to me than any new coat of paint I’ve ever had. the other modes receive. . EA seems to be prioritizing the basic couch multiplayer feel of Madden and expanding from there, and hopefully that attitude pays off as we see what else the game has to offer.


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