Madden NFL 23 Closed Beta Preview (Xbox Series X)

Madden NFL 23 Closed Beta Preview (Xbox Series X)

The gaming landscape is filled with constants. Each year EA blasts gamers with more offerings in huge sports game franchises. NHL gets another numbered entry, and of course the star of the show, Madden NFL 23 arrives just prior to the start of a brand-new NFL season. This year I was lucky enough to be included in the Madden NFL 23 Closed Beta, and luckier for fans, this entry seems to be an uptick for the franchise in the right direction, albeit small.

The Beta didn’t contain every mode available in the finished product, but Play Now, Ultimate Team, and Online play were enabled for my duration with the title. There’s a brand-new technology at work here, and that’s called FieldSENSE. Madden NFL 23 has been touting these new gameplay mechanics as gospel since the first trailer for the game launched, but does it change enough to warrant fans to obtain the next entry in the franchise? The answer is a resounding maybe, but the FieldSENSE is next generation exclusive functionality, leaving fans on the Xbox One and PS4 literally out in the cold.

Madden 23 Closed Beta Preview (Xbox Series X) 5

FieldSENSE is the main improvement for the new entry. There are many new controls introduced, but most importantly, a major problem about the previous title, the animations at the very beginning of a play showing exactly how it would pan out from the first moment, has been fixed. Madden NFL 23 makes leaps and bounds here. There are many new animations added to the title whether on offence or defence.

This improves the general sense of play, as it was heavily frustrating in the previous title to ‘just know’ when a play would fail, or the outcome too early. The game plays far more organically in this regard. The Groundhog Day feeling of “didn’t this just happen?” rarely occurs, each play does in fact feel different.

“There’s a brand-new technology at work here, and that’s called FieldSENSE.”

The ’Learn To Play’ mode does help teach the player what’s new to the title, while remaining as cumbersome as ever. For returning players, this mode feels like paint drying. But, for players new to the series, it is very helpful and informative. For all the new introductions of gameplay brought to the table, they don’t reinvent the wheel, and figuring out how to utilize the new functions is easy for returning Madden players.

Madden 23 Closed Beta Preview (Xbox Series X) 4

FieldSENSE allows tackling animations, running collisions, throwing mechanics, catching mechanics, and even making plays on the ball as a defender more organic feeling. There is a Skill Based Passing system that feels FAR better than the copy-and-paste the series has done for years prior. The player can lead a receiver and see where the ball will end up when thrown, precisely where it will end up. There are many small notifiers shown to the player, like a thin translucent white line that shows the flight pattern of the football before throwing, and a meter above the receiver that determines the likeliness of completion. These compound gameplay nicely and allow the player more freedom over adjusting to defensive pressure.

“Running the football feels better in Madden NFL 23 than the past decade of entries to the series.”

Running the football feels better in Madden NFL 23 than the past decade of entries to the series. Collisions with defenders will see the player enter a very brief QTE of button-mashing to determine whether they will get successfully tackled or if they can break the tackle thrown in their direction. It feels like Madden hasn’t received a revamp on this aspect since Madden 12, where tackling received more animations and a dedicated button to collide with the carrier. A nice touch that keeps players on their toes.

Madden 23 Closed Beta Preview (Xbox Series X)

Despite some heavy offensive improvements, defence feels like the last entry. Nothing incredibly notable has been added, besides basic gameplay improvements such as clearer animations and smoother game functions. A player can still use power moves to rush the passer, controlling a DB to press the receiver and create pressure still functions effectively, defence is still 100% Madden. There is a noteworthy improvement where long passes are thrown. You can collide with a receiver right when the ball touches their hands and force an incompletion, which feels GREAT, it feels like football, a solid inclusion.

All in all, it is too early to determine whether the title has done enough to warrant another full priced entry, especially for previous generation console owners unable to take advantage of the FieldSENSE improvements. The game feels better, with new functions, but it’s still undeniably Madden to its core. This is a step in the right direction, as gameplay hasn’t felt this clean in forever, but it remains to be seen if the juice is worth the squeeze on the new entry. Madden NFL 23 launches on August 19.

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