The Yard in Madden 21 might be the best feature added in years

EA Sports
EA Sports /

The recently revealed Madden 21 mode, The Yard, brings a new way to play in the storied football game franchise.

Madden 21 Seann Graddy responded to the #FixMaddenFranchise hastag on Twitterreleases on August 28 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. With it comes updated rosters, new Skill Stick features and updated Superstar X-Factors. We are still waiting on information on how EA will be addressing concerns over the lack of updates to Connected Franchise since Producer . While there’s been silence on that end, the Madden 21 team did share a deep dive on a new mode in this year’s entry — The Yard.

The Yard is a new way to play Madden, and it honestly looks like a blast. As someone that avoids Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) entirely, I loved what I saw of The Yard in the trailer and what EA has revealed thus far. The Yard features 6 on 6 games with new gameplay elements that are intended to make the game feel quicker, more electrifying, and resemble backyard football, but with the top athletes in the world playing instead of your cousin Johnny that insists he could’ve played Division 1 football had he stuck with it in high school instead of quitting after being the backup QB on the Junior Varsity team.

In The Yard, it all starts with your avatar, whom you can assign player prototypes. Prototypes give you an X-Factor, abilities, and skill points for you to shape your playstyle. Players will play on both sides of the ball, and your prototype doesn’t necessarily have to fit the role you’re playing in that game. For instance, your prototype could be QB, but you could be lining up at WR that game. The roles are:

  • QB/SS
  • C/MLB
  • WR1/CB1
  • WR2/CB2
  • Slot WR/Slot CB
  • HB/OLB
Madden 21 - The Yard
EA Sports /

The rest of your team is filled out differently depending on the mode you’re playing. Most modes against the CPU will have a team drafted for you. Players like Jalen Ramsey, Devin Singletary, Keenan Allen, Frank Clark and Tyreek Hill can join you on your team. When playing by yourself, you can control not only your avatar, but any of the 6 players on the field. In squads play (1-3 human players), you’ll control your avatar and either two other players (if playing duos) or one other player (if playing trios). There are also events where you draft your own teammates.

When it comes to gameplay in The Yard, Madden 21 gets shaken up with Double Passes, batting the ball in the air to another receiver, lots of laterals, the ability to snap the ball to any player on the field, and a pass/pass rush timer that determines when the defense can rush the QB, or if the ball is dead when the QB isn’t rushed and he hasn’t passed it.

Scoring has been changed up depending on how creative you get with your plays. While touchdowns are worth six points, you get bonus points inf you score on a play longer than 40 yards or if you score with a double pass or lateral. If you do both, you can earn up to three extra points for a long play that features a lateral/double pass. That’s what makes The Yard look so exciting. It’s not the play you’re calling before the ball is snapped (although playbooks are a lot more limited); it’s what you do with the ball after it’s snapped. All of the excitement comes from improvisation — while a traditional Madden 21 game is more reliant on executing the play as is.

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While The Yard features some cool locations to play in, the coolest feature looks to be the gear you can unlock for your avatar. In the trailer, I’m sure the flashy uniforms, helmets and gloves caught your attention. There are over 2,000 pieces of gear at launch and more will be added over time. You earn gear by ranking up via challenges or head to head play, as well as leveling your Prototypes. To form your Home and Away jerseys, you’ll be able to unlock helmets, jerseys, visors, face masks, arm sleeves and gloves. From released images, some of the pieces cost up to 4,500 cred.

The pessimist in me thinks that this is just another avenue for microtransactions in franchise already dominated by them in MUT. But the optimist in me thinks the gear in this most look rad as hell. Some of them are the type of gear and jerseys you see college teams wearing, like UCF in their space uniforms.

Madden 21 could have something special on their hands with The Yard. I’m not always in the mood to play a full game, and I’m not sure how much franchise will hold my attention without updates to it, so The Yard looks like it could have the flash and excitement to be a main game mode. It won’t quite NFL Blitz or NFL Street, but Madden’s version of those. I’ve been dying for a more backyard style football game for a while. The real question is whether you could play The Yard head to head splitscreen. That’s a game changer for my household.

Next. Madden 21: X-Factor abilities for six elite QBs revealed. dark

Madden 21 releases on August 28 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.