Madden NFL 16 first impressions: An ugly start

Madden 16 title screen

EA Access subscribers on Xbox One can begin playing Madden NFL 16 today, for ten hours over the next five days. I downloaded Madden 16 this morning and just jumped into it for the first time.

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It certainly has a great presentation, especially in the menus, however the initial load time was exceptionally long. It took a solid two minutes, if not longer, just to get through the title screen. The tutorial (a dramatized Super Bowl game between the Steelers and the Cardinals) is presented well, however the frame rate is terrible on the Xbox One. It really distracts from what should be an exciting, dramatic Super Bowl game. It’s like watching a game in slow motion at times, while the screen pixelates and the audio cuts in and out.

Outside of the tutorial the gameplay still seems a little awkward. There seems to be a sort of slow motion effect whenever a pass is thrown. This may be because of the new catching mechanics (where you can choose between a possession catch, a catch that favors a run after the catch, and an aggressive catch) but it really makes the game feel unnatural. There are also some frame rate stutters that are severely noticeable during passes, but also crop up before tackles and many other situations.

If all the stutters get worked out, Madden 16 will certainly be the best looking football game to date. There are some new camera shots that aim to replicate what you see on TV, and the crowds certainly feel more alive (they include female fans for the first time as well!).

I haven’t tried out any of the new modes yet, but from what I’ve seen from the core gameplay I’m not impressed. Hopefully things will get patched up before the official release date (August 25), otherwise I may end up sticking to Madden 15 for a little while longer.

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