The biggest football simulation franchise in the world continues to hold the fort with another year of updated action, and our Madden 24 review will take apart whether the latest release is a spectacular catch or a fumble. As the NFL season draws near, fans are already jumping into Madden 24 to get their latest taste of the virtual gridiron.
Some areas saw significant change this year as Superstar Mode replaced Face of the Franchise, and a key aspect of Franchise Mode got updated for the first time in nearly a decade. There are definite steps forward, but this Madden 24 review will help you decide whether those upgrades are enough to snag the latest release at launch.
Madden 24 Review: Gameplay and graphics hold the line, but UI is on life support
After years of struggle in this area, Madden 24 manages to build upon the recently upgraded gameplay engine that shifted back towards more physics based interactions and further away from canned animations. While the Madden 24 gameplay is not without its flaws, it’s still fairly intuitive and fun to play this year, definitely more so than the animation-heavy style of a few years ago.
The same rings true for the graphics, as for the most part Madden 24 looks fantastic. The environment, player models, and everything in between really brings the NFL feel to the forefront. Glitches can happen on occasion, but weren’t super prevalent in our experience this year. At least, on the field graphics glitches weren’t super prevalent.
Sadly, the consistency in the quality of graphics and gameplay compared to the last release does not carry over to the overall user interface and feel of navigating Madden 24. In fact, somehow Madden 24 feels even more sluggish and bogged down than Madden 23 in some areas. Game modes see significant delays in rewards screens activating, you’ll often have to do multiple button presses to select something before the game actually acts upon it, and you’re going to spend far more time than is necessary just trying to get your way into the actual gameplay.
There are definite steps forward for Madden 24 in several areas, but the deterioration of an already struggling UI really impacts the ability to enjoy this year’s upgrades. There’s always hope that some of this will improve with updates in the coming weeks, but as of now you’re just going to have to make due with the aging fullback of user interfaces.
Superstar Mode is a small upgrade from Face of the Franchise
Last year, the longstanding Face of the Franchise career mode shook things up by stepping away from the rookie experience. Rather than competing in a College Football Playoff Game, Face of the Franchise in Madden 23 dropped players into year five of their NFL career on a one-year “prove-it” contract with the team of your choosing. That’s all gone, but the College Football Playoff is not returning.
Superstar Mode replaces the formerly dubbed Face of the Franchise, but it’s quite clear that the bones of the mode are identical. You’ll still have the opportunity to play as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, or cornerback as you work week by week to upgrade your player all the way to 99 OVR. However, the biggest change comes as you kickoff a new save in Superstar Mode.
The NFL Draft Combine arrives in Madden 24, and these early minigames really do deliver the feel of that pre-NFL pressure that incoming rookies face. You’ll tackle four minigames based on real-world combine challenges as well as a fifth with drills specific to the position your player will be playing. After the dust settles, you’ll have the option to take part in a Combine Interview to boost your draft stock if you can get all the answers correct in this trivia challenge.
The good news is that if you enjoy the gameplay of Madden 23, you’ll probably still get a lot of enjoyment out of Superstar Mode in Madden 24. It does run into some of the UI issues mentioned above with some delayed pop-ups and progression in menus sometimes, but the games themselves are still an enjoyable challenge, and we haven’t run into any save breaking bugs so far.
Franchise Mode gets a Relocation boost, but not much else
If you’re a veteran Madden player, you’ve probably noticed that the Relocation options in Franchise Mode have been functionally identical literally since Madden 15. The cities, teams, and logos included in that release have barely been touched in every release since then. Thankfully, there is finally some relief in that realm.
Madden 24 Franchise Mode revamps relocation with a few key changes. Several new cities have been added, but most critically the team names are no longer locked to cities. Rather than picking a city and having two or three team options to choose from based on that city, you can now choose your new location and pick between approximately 30 different teams. However, the Oilers are still exclusive to Houston, even if they failed to include period accurate uniforms.
The other big change to Relocation in Franchise Mode is that you no longer have to wait a full season and spend several weeks getting the change to take effect. You can relocate as soon as your new Franchise Mode save begins, and all the changes will activate immediately for that season. These are all good moves that are long overdue, but unfortunately the core of Franchise Mode didn’t change in many other ways.
The week to week action, Staff Points to upgrade your personnel, scouting systems, trade systems, none of it feels significantly different than last year. Small changes like increased trade slots and salary cap management do help, but not quite as much as the mode needs. Training camp is also back as minigames are integrated into Franchise Mode, a definite boost, but still not enough to help a mode that’s needed more comprehensive overhauls for some time.
Ultimate Team is Ultimate Team is Ultimate Team
Death, taxes, and Ultimate Team. Some things never really change, even if their flavor gets adjusted just a little. The reality of Ultimate Team isn’t much different than it has been for several years, and players aren’t likely to have their existing opinions of Ultimate Team swayed by the changes in Madden 24.
If you’ve spent past releases buried in Ultimate Team for hours on end grinding to earn new cards and buff up your theme team, you’ll probably get that same enjoyment out of it this year. If you’ve spent past releases pretending Ultimate Team didn’t exist and getting annoyed every single time you open the game and get a pop-up about the latest MUT drops, you’ll probably get that same experience in Madden 24.
The mode saw some minor changes including a new introduction and tutorial to try and help new players get used to it, and most notably Madden 24 brings crossplay to the forefront. PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC users now have feature parity and can compete head to head in Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, the slog of a user interface is at its worst in Ultimate Team where you’ll spend significantly more time navigating menus and waiting for button presses to register than you will actually playing any virtual football.
Madden 24 Verdict & Rating
If you were expecting Madden 24 to reinvent the wheel, maybe you should wait for Madden 25 (part two) to see if things change more next time. If you’re a longtime Madden player who expects a similar but slightly upgraded game each year with new rosters, that’s exactly what you’ll get from Madden 24.
There’s still a lot of fun to be had in Madden 24, but several game modes are still in need of a more comprehensive overhaul. Improvements like the NFL Draft Combine and arrival of minigames help, but they aren’t enough to cover up all of the existing issues with the franchise. As mentioned earlier, updates later in the year could address some of the problems with Madden 24 and most hopefully will improve the sluggish UI that seems even less responsive than it was last year, which still was in need of improvement.
Unfortunately, those impending updates are unlikely to make massive significant changes anywhere else in the game. Madden 24 is still the perennial playoff contender of sports games, but once again it’s been eliminated in the wild card round to little fanfare.
Madden 24 Rating: 7 out of 10