Players will look and move more realistically.
The game will use data from sensors in real players' shoulder pads.
The new consoles pack enough processing power to handle AI-driven additions.
“Madden NFL 21” is getting a midseason makeover for the latest video game consoles.
On Dec. 4, versions of the game for the Microsoft Xbox Series X and S systems and the Sony PlayStation 5 will get an update that takes advantage of those new systems' graphic firepower.
In the game, which will play out in 4K video, players will look and move more realistically, the stadiums will have improved visuals and sound, and users will be able to more easily call plays for teams' superstar playmakers.
With the update, the game’s artificial intelligence will drive all the players using real-world data from NFL Next Gen Stats, which includes all of the 2019 NFL season and part of the current one. That data comes from sensors in each player’s shoulder pads tracking their movements on the field. The game will also use that data to create TV broadcast-quality replays of big plays.
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“The new consoles allow us enough processing power to support all the AI additions we need to drive the player movement, as well as the animation memory to successfully load in the thousands of animations needed to bring Next Gen Player Movement to life,” said Clint Oldenburg, game play producer for EA Sports. “In theory, the pathing itself ‘could’ work on current gen platforms, but it would not be nearly as ‘smart’ or fully realized on the visual side as the next generation hardware provides us.”
A new play-calling system tied to specific players could be easier for new Madden players – and a feature longtime players could exploit, too. And players can, for the first time, save preferred plays for quick play calls.
Those who have already purchased “Madden NFL 21” for Xbox One or PlayStation 4, which was released Aug. 28, can get a free upgrade to a new Xbox or PS5. Most progress in the game so far will carry over to your new system. Progress in Weekend League or Solo battles, for instance, is tied to the generation of console. Also, Xbox Series X/S and PS5 gameplay will not qualify for the Madden NFL 21 Championship series.
You can also purchase next-gen editions of “Madden NFL 21” for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 for $69.99.
During the rest of the season, EA Sports will include additional updates to the game “where we find there’s new plays we want to add, new routes or need more animation coverage for specific situations,” Oldenburg said.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.