We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Madden 21 release date, gameplay, trailer, and more

When was the Madden 21 release date and what new features and improvements were NFL fans treated to?

Madden NFL has long been the only American Football sim around, and while that’s made it the unopposed king of the genre, it has also earned it criticism of growing stale and sitting back on its laurels. Sadly, the Madden 21 release date didn’t do much to change that perception.

This time around, the game arrived a month later than usual, and many hoped this would signal more new features and more polish on the gameplay front. However, the game was poorly received and went down as one of the worst entries in the series’ history.

Madden 21 release date

The release date for Madden 21 was August 28, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It also dropped on the new generation of consoles – the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S – on December 4, 2020.

For those that purchased the MVP Edition of the game, they could jump into Madden 21 a few days early on August 25.

Madden 21 platforms

As stated above, the game hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC right out of the gate. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions arrived a few months later once those consoles hit the market. Madden 21 was also available on Google Stadia.

Madden 21 upgrades for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S

PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S upgrades were available for free if players bought the last-gen version but wanted to play on the newer generation of consoles.

However, you needed to be careful with the disc drive. If you buy the physical version of the game, you’ll have to buy a disc version of the consoles too. Both Sony and Microsoft released digital-only versions of their consoles, and this caught out plenty of players that were looking for their free Madden 21 upgrade.

In terms of actual upgrades on the experience, aside from the improved graphics, EA added few new-gen specific features. The improved engine allowed for more in-depth player physiques and more responsive movements of the on-field athletes. The haptic feedback of the PS5’s DualSense controller was also in use for Madden 21.

Madden 21 crossplay

Madden 21 did not have crossplay, despite being available on multiple platforms and console generations. Given how many multiplayer sports titles it had in its arsenal, EA was disappointingly slow in widely adopting crossplay in its games, and Madden 21 was one of those that missed out.

Madden 21 trailer

Madden’s first trailer dropped on June 16, detailing some of the new gameplay features for this installment. The collision-heavy trailer was built around tackling and rushing, showcasing a few small on-field improvements over the previous game.

YouTube Thumbnail

Two days after this gameplay trailer, a second trailer was unveiled, this time a joint trailer between Madden 21 and FIFA 21, focusing on gameplay and energy over specific features.

YouTube Thumbnail

After launch, EA released an additional trailer for the new-generation version of the game, showcasing the upgrades it would have on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

YouTube Thumbnail

Madden 21 gameplay

Just a week after its full reveal, EA treated us to a deep dive on Madden 21’s new features. Among the changes, pass rushing was now all on the Right Stick and Right Trigger, aimed at being more responsive and offering greater control.

This is a similar theme with Ball Stick Carrier controls, which gave greater running creativity to let you play your way. Jukes and Spins remained, but Dead Legs and Side Hurdles were added too, with even more special moves for the most elite characters. Tackling received similar tweaks to avoid the ‘guided missile’ feel of earlier instalments.

Elsewhere, context and pressure were dialled up, with players keeping momentum as they run out of bounds, reaching desperately when close to the end zone, and physics based movements for the QBs changing the stylings of each throw.

YouTube Thumbnail

Madden 21 new features

Face Of The Franchise mode was tweaked, and had the subtitle Rise To Fame added. It would also now let you select RB or WR as well as QB.  Arcade style mode The Yard was introduced too, which felt like the spiritual successor to NFL Street and looked to emulate FIFA 20’s Volta street soccer mode.

50 Superstar and X-Factor abilities were added, rosters and stats were adjusted, and the above gameplay features can all be considered new features too. The Washington Redskins were renamed the Washington Football Team following the real life franchise’s decision to retire the controversial moniker after decades of unrest.

As for Franchise mode? Another year passed by with zero upgrades, regrettably.

Madden 21 cover star

Madden 21’s cover stars Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. Much like that year’s FIFA 21, the covers went in a different direction from previous years, opting for a collage-style motif.

The Standard edition centres around Jackson ready to launch a pass, the Deluxe edition has him twirling a football, and the MVP edition is a clean look with a single photo of Jackson with his helmet loose after a game.

And that’s a full breakdown of everything new and returning in Madden 21. While it didn’t impress fans, it did certainly attempt to push some boundaries for the start of the new console generation.