A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players are instructed through offensive and defensive plays, coverage adjustments, and control moves with a dedicated mode to coaching players on the sport. Lessons on coverage adjustments and play schemes are accurate to the real sport, and players can take these lessons to boost their knowledge of actual football games. The Face of the Franchise mode reinforces these concepts during weekly field drills.
Gameplay promotes teamwork, fair competition, and working to complete a goal. Also stresses value of dedicating yourself to becoming a champion and striving to be a better player, which is expressed in the Franchise and Face of the Franchise modes. Messages of giving back to the community and being a mentor and role model to teammates. EA's push for racial equality and fair play is also promoted.
Positive Role Models
Many NFL athletes are role models for kids and their community, and the Face of the Franchise mode tries to highlight this, with options for players to take a bigger role with their fans.
Players represent multiple ethnicities, body shapes, and backgrounds in the NFL; the same is present in Madden. A female executive has a big role in welcoming your player to their franchise and trying to help with whatever they need during the season.
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Ease of Play
Multiple difficulty levels ranging from a player's first time with the game to settings for professional competitive esports play. The Yard is the arcade version of six-vs.-six football, a more laidback version of the sport. New gameplay features of FieldSense make players more effective on the field in breaking away from defenders or placing the ball where you want it to be thrown, but knowing how to best take advantage of them in the midst of play, along with adjusting alignments to respond to on-field situations, can be challenging.
Violence & Scariness
Punishing hits and painful tackles are a large part of the sport, and are frequently shown thanks to in-game replays. While injuries are sometimes shown at the end of a play, no blood or gore appears.
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Unmoderated multiplayer could expose players to inappropriate content in those matches.
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Products & Purchases
This is the 2023 installment in the wildly popular long-running franchise. There's heavy promotion of brands, from Jordan brand player uniforms that can be purchased for created athletes to sidelines with Gatorade and Microsoft Surface tablets. The Face of the Franchise mode references Nike often, with players hoping to become a sponsored athlete. Players can use real money (and are often presented with in-game promotions) on items that can be acquired only by spending cash; this is in contrast to items earned by play, which are often used in the Ultimate Team mode.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Madden NFL 23 is a football simulation for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. It's the latest chapter in the long-running football franchise, which has helped to define sports video games for decades. The simulation attempts to produce the most accurate and lifelike version of the sport possible each year, with updated league rules, broadcast presentations and intros to games, and action packed highlight reels. Football is a contact sport, so hard hits, brutal tackles, and potential injuries are part of the game, but no blood or gore is ever shown during play. Injured players manage to make their way off the field under their own power. The game doesn't feature inappropriate content, although players could potentially be exposed to comments during unmoderated multiplayer games. There are multiple difficulty levels that allow players to tailor the challenge of the game to their skill level, although the test will still be whether they can respond to changing situations at a second's notice. While significantly reduced from previous years, product placement and purchases for gameplay are still a large part of the game, ranging from promotion of Gatorade and Microsoft Surface tablets to Heinz Ketchup and Jordan branded jerseys. In the Face of the Franchise mode, players can potentially become Nike sponsored athletes. The Ultimate Team mode also frequently pushes players to purchase current and legendary athletes with real money; players can also use in-game currency earned from play to purchase players, items, and extras to build their fantasy squads.
Is It Any Good?
The return to the basics of the game results in a nice first-down conversion for the popular football franchise, which is a great homage to its late football legend. Madden NFL 23 is the first game released after John Madden's death, and it feels like a great send-off to the coach beyond the menu screens and the voice clips. It's clear that the developers wanted to pay tribute to Madden with the inclusion of the Legacy game, with two versions of the coach walking the sidelines as he coaches his favorite AFC and NFC players. The inserted clips from his broadcasts, as well as the halftime tribute to his legacy, are a subtle tribute to the man that refined football broadcasts and launched this series to new heights. It could've gone further, with segments of classic Madden games, clips or playable scenarios from his career, or other moments highlighting his impact, but it's a decent addition. What stands out further is something that Madden would have approved of, which is the FieldSense system. Passing is always one of those items that gets boosted in Madden, and the ability to direct a throw to a specific part of the field, along with how hard it's thrown, means that you can really drop in a ball over a receiver's shoulder into their waiting hands, or toss a low ball that is grabbed by the shoestrings as a receiver goes out of bounds for a first down. It can take some getting used to, but it makes your passes incredibly accurate and effective. More important is the inclusion of hard cuts for directional movement for ball carriers. In previous games, if you wanted to turn upfield, especially after the catch, you'd have a rounded path, and your players might be trapped in a juke or spin move before they could pick up speed. This year, you can plant your foot and explode past the line, or fake out a defender and take off for extra yards. It's great, and gives you the sense that just about every play could be broken open for a big gain. The lone downside is that it does make gameplay a bit too easy for the offensive side of the ball. Sure, defensive backs can disrupt timing by jamming receivers at the line, and the tackle assists are good to help bring down hard-to-tackle runners, but it's a bit too easy to hit a stutter step and gain far too much separation on defenders.
Aside from some glitches in animation and the preference toward offense, the field game is pretty strong, which is a good thing, because the other modes aren't as solid as they could be. Face of the Franchise starts out with an intriguing premise by focusing on a vet who hasn't been a superstar and is looking to catch on at a new team at the end of his rookie contract. But while this one could've explored a player trying to come back from an injury or gone through the ups and downs of vets trying to prove they belong on a roster over rookies, the limited story takes a bland safe route in play. The cutscenes, as few and far between as they are, don't really drive anything forward and are mainly skippable. At least the gameplay isn't as focused on Nike as last year's version. Franchise mode has been boosted mainly in the trade and scouting departments, which adds a wrinkle to the acquisition of new talent and evaluation of upcoming players. It's a good addition, and it provides a little more of a chess match when it comes to figuring out who might be the best fit for your organization. Beyond that, though, this is largely the same mode as last year's. Adding roll over cap space and draft logic helps, but this mode still feels shallow in some of its depiction of front office and on-field dynamics. Finally, the other mode of note is the popular Ultimate Team mode. It's nice to see that the collections in the game that allowed players to build and design their squads have been adjusted so that it's easier to collect top-tier players and build the teams you're looking for. Of course, aside from paying for the chance to get superstar athletes, you'll need to put in the work to create the best team. But it feels like the minor issues from previous years' installments with the Ultimate Team have been smoothed out, so there are more ways for players to hop in and experience success here. Overall, Madden NFL 23 feels like a strong return to the fundamentals that the coach knew and loved. On-field play is better than before, and while it may be tipped in the offense's favor this year, it feels like a fitting send-off. Thanks indeed, coach.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.