Less than a month until the Madden NFL 21 release, EA may be feeling the pressure of another competitor entering the gridiron gaming space. With an official non-simulation football game from 2K Games set to debut in 2021, EA has unveiled a new arcade-like game mode called ‘The Yard,’ which it hopes will be a fun, refreshing experience for players.
While still a simulation game, The Yard mode is far from traditional football. The 6-on-6 backyard-inspired mode will have players creating their own avatar and competing in teams of one, two or three players. They’ll have the option to play solo, online co-op or against other players. The Yard will be a departure from EA’s common ground, as it includes arcade-like features such as behind-the-back throws, double passes and trick plays that probably wouldn’t work on the regular Madden game.
“We wanted to create a new way for players to express themselves and take on small-sided football in an arcade-style experience that’s completely new to Madden,” said Sean Graddy, Executive Producer of Madden NFL 21.
In previous games, customization options for players were limited; facial presets would automatically change depending on the height and weight of the player. Now in Madden 21, avatar customization has increased with the addition of the Gillette Style Zone, where players can to add facial hair, hairstyles and more.
Madden producers have also added an apparel shop, where players can choose from a wide variety of styles to sport when they’re on the field. There will be more than 2,000 individual pieces of gear when the game releases, including visors, helmets, jerseys and pants, and new gear will be released throughout the football season. Clothing companies seeking exposure to the game’s million-plus players have already begun to reach out to EA.
The style customization is reminiscent of 2K’s MyPark, the street-court basketball mode wherein users similarly can buy different styles of clothing for their avatars.
There will be multiple player prototypes in The Yard, based on standout stars like Lamar Jackson or Julio Jones. And since the players will be playing both offense and defense, they’ll have traits that affect both sides of the ball.
Players will have the option to compete in four locations, with each spot featuring different competitors. For example, Miami Port will have them competing against South Florida’s finest, whereas with Lambeau Tailgate players will take on NFC North stars.
The mode will also have rankings where players can see things like winning streaks and who sits atop the leaderboards.
The mobile version, which was unveiled on Friday will be slightly different, with the game being 5-on-5 instead of 6-on-6. However, as long as players are logged into the game, they’ll have access to their avatar, earned rewards and gear collection.
Madden NFL 21 will be released Aug. 28.