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Everything you need to know about Madden NFL 21

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Madden 20 Key Art

Source: EA

Benjamin Franklin may have said that nothing in the world is certain but death and taxes. However, the release of a new entry in the Madden franchise comes awfully close, slotting in right alongside the taxman and the Grim Reaper. Despite the requisite eye-rolling from non-sports gamers and gritted teeth from aficionados who wish EA Sports would give us as much love to other game modes as it does to Ultimate Team, Madden NFL 21 is going to release later this year and do brisk sales like it always does. Things are a little different this year, though, because the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are on the horizon. New Madden titles on new consoles can sometimes be a mixed bag as developers get used to different hardware (see also: Madden 06), making Madden NFL 21 a bit of an experiment in some ways too.

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When is the Madden NFL 21 release date on current-gen consoles?

Madden 20 key art

Source: EA

We don’t know precisely when Madden NFL 21 will hit Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but we can make some reasonably informed speculation. Madden NFL 20 followed the series’ long history of August releases, but it came out even earlier than usual: on August 2, the first Friday of the month.

It’s hard to imagine EA will want to reverse that trend, so ** August 7, 2020** feels like a good bet for the Madden NFL 21 current-gen release date. Don’t be shocked if it’s the week before, either — July 31 is a Friday this year, and the game could undoubtedly drop then if EA wants to give gamers all of August to spend money in MUT … um, spend time with all the game modes. Yes, that’s it.

Will Madden NFL 21 be a launch title on Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5?

Madden 20

Source: Windows Central

This is pushing our powers of prognostication to the limits. So little has been revealed about either the new Xbox or PlayStation that it’s hard to say for sure which annual franchises like Madden will be represented at launch for either console. By the end of E3 this summer, there should be a much better idea, though by then, the release date for current-gen machines will be only weeks away.

Recent history, though suggests that Madden NFL 21 will be a launch title on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, as Madden 25 (named for its 25th anniversary instead of the next year in 2013) was in the launch lineup for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in November 2013 after releasing for the then-current consoles that August. Unless, say, the coronavirus messes up all the new console plans, smart money says you’ll be able to play Madden NFL 21 on new consoles from Sony and Microsoft on Day 1.

When will we see the first Madden NFL 21 trailer or gameplay footage?

Madden 20 Juju

Source: EA

Guessing the arrival dates for video game trailers can be a fun game, but Madden fans have a bit of a spoiler in that regard. EA has been using the first night of the NFL Draft to officially reveal the next Madden title as of late, doing exactly that in 2019. This year, the Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23, so expect a trailer to drop that night with some teases and a release date at the end.

Gameplay footage will be a longer wait. One good possibility is that current-gen gameplay will be shown off at EA Play, which should be held in L.A. the weekend before E3 if it holds to the trends of the last few years. That would make it June 7-8, though that’s an educated guess for now. As for next-gen footage … we’ll have to wait and see.

Who will the Madden NFL 21 cover athlete be?

Madden 20 Lamar Jackson

Source: EA

The only thing for sure is who it won’t be: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “But wait,” you say. “Mahomes just led the Chiefs to a championship and was the freaking Super Bowl MVP!” Very true, but Mahomes just made the cover for Madden NFL 20, so is virtually a lock not to get the honor again.

Let’s brainstorm some likely candidates. Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers had a tremendous season, and no running back has been on the cover of a Madden game for seven years. By the same logic, Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans could definitely be in the mix. Lamar Jackson electrified the NFL in his MVP campaign, but it feels unlikely EA would go back to back with quarterbacks.

Defensive players haven’t been rewarded with a cover spot since Richard Sherman on Madden 15, so maybe it’s time someone like Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald or New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore got the nod. We should find out sometime in July, and thankfully, Mahomes probably just put the idea of a Madden Curse to rest for good.

When will Madden NFL 21 player ratings be released?

Madden 20 Dalvin Cook

Source: EA

One of the best parts of any year’s pre-Madden hype is the release and subsequent debate/complaining about NFL player ratings for the upcoming game. There’s something oddly entertaining about seeing anyone and everyone gripe about who’s been done dirty by the ratings folks, along with the laughs that follow when the likes of Tom Brady joke about his own speed number.

What’s likely to happen is that the EA Sports crew will release some teases of top players by position before dropping the ratings for the entire NFL. For Madden NFL 20, the full release came on July 15, less than three weeks ahead of the game hitting stores. Expect something similar for Madden NFL 21, with July 13-20 a good guess for the range of dates those eternal conversation-starters will arrive.

Will Madden NFL 21 have any new game modes?

EA sometimes plays the addition of new game modes close to the vest. After all, the only true new mode in Madden NFL 20 was Superstar KO — I’m not counting QB 1 here, as that was more of a refresh to an existing mode — which wasn’t in the game when it first released. It was certainly welcome, though, and with the next-gen consoles coming, the timing couldn’t be better for something new and cool.

Alternately, maybe EA Sports will finally give Franchise mode the love and attention it deserves. Yes, it doesn’t grease the company coffers like Ultimate Team, but come on: MUT is a well-oiled machine at this point, while Franchise has been rusting and gathering dust for essentially forever. Players have been demanding it, critics knocked Madden NFL 20 for not having it, so Madden NFL 21 would be the perfect time to deliver a thorough Franchise update. Just play it safe and don’t get your hopes up too high.

Play 20 until 21 arrives

Madden NFL 20

Hit the gridiron now

With new superstar X-factor abilities, the QB 1 story mode, and Superstar KO to support the Madden Ultimate Team juggernaut, the final Madden solely for Xbox One and PS4 is worth checking out now that it’s at the end of the year prices.

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