Brady and Mahomes will share the cover of Madden NFL 22, EA Sports announced Thursday, less than a year after the two squared off on the game's biggest stage.
EA Sports teased the pairing with a video posted Monday featuring former Browns running back and Madden NFL cover athlete Peyton Hillis and two goats. In the clip, Hillis is shown taking a knee alongside the goats while talking on the phone, telling the unidentified individual on the call "they did it again."
Exactly what "they" (meaning those at EA Sports) did was something that hasn't been done in two console generations. It's been a decade since Hillis graced the cover of the Madden NFL series' annual entry, and it's been even longer since the game featured a dual-athlete cover.
Madden hasn't seen two athletes split the precious real estate that is the cover of the game since Madden NFL 10, when Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Steelers safety Troy Polumalu appeared on the front, posing as if they were about to collide. The choice was a perfect fit for the game that year, which was built around a new mechanic that allowed players to fight for a loose ball and battle for extra yardage -- the inches we speak of that so often determine the outcome of a game.
Two years later, Hillis made the cover of Madden NFL 12 in the most stunning of fan vote upsets. EA chose him as the perfect pitch man in its teaser video released Monday, and the thinly veiled messaging became clear Thursday: Hillis' goats were merely stand-ins for two G.O.A.T.s.
The pairing of Brady and Mahomes is natural, as it follows in the footsteps of Super Bowl LV's matchup that saw Brady's Buccaneers dominate Mahomes' Chiefs, and it is arguably the most prestigious in Madden history. Brady is undoubtedly headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame whenever he finally decides to hang up his otherworldly cleats, and with a Super Bowl triumph and Super Bowl MVP under his belt at this still-early stage of his career, Mahomes very well could be headed for Canton someday, too.
Madden might also be headed for a banner year. The franchise has taken a page out of EA Sports' decorated history with this new game, while also carrying over the improvements it made with its first next-generation release and building upon it to create what the development team touted as Dynamic Gameday. The new focus features three main branches: Gameday atmosphere, gameday momentum and star-driven artificial intelligence.
Madden fans will power up and dive into a game to see brand-new presentation packages that include Next Gen Stats elements and effectively capture the pageantry and excitement of an NFL contest better than ever before. The folks at EA turned to the past to pull a key detail out of its since-retired NCAA Football games, adding crowd noise as a legitimate factor on the game, making for less effective pre-snap hot routes, scrambled pre-snap play art, and further immersing the player in the experience with every rise and fall of the on-field action.
It didn't stop there with the importance of the setting. EA Sports has introduced a new feature -- gameday momentum -- that can shut down the special abilities of opposing star players. With a big play comes an M-Factor, which builds the home team's momentum toward tilting the environment in its favor (i.e., kickers will have a harder time making their attempts due to being in a constantly iced state). Players will know when the momentum is in their favor or working against them with an in-game meter, and if they don't look toward the meter, they won't be able to ignore it based on what they're hearing from the raucous virtual fans.
EA achieved this by remastering real-world crowd recordings in each NFL stadium, and went even deeper by adding elements unique to these venues. In Denver, for example, pass and kick distances are increased due to the altitude, and players will have less of an energy reserve to rely on, leading to fatigued participants at a higher rate. In the Windy City of Chicago, kicks will be more difficult to accurately execute.
Home-field advantage is more important than ever in Madden 22, but that's not all. Advanced scouting matters this season thanks to the added implementation of Next Gen Stats, which gives players an inside look at their strengths and weaknesses using data tracked in game that is based off actual Next Gen metrics used by NFL teams. Players will build their weekly game plans off this information, and when they take the field, the star-driven A.I. will come to life in the form of tendencies displayed by coaches and individual players in a variety of areas, including quarterback decision-making, run-pass ratios, and even a ball carrier's tendency to attempt to evade a defender.
All of this is built on real-world data that adjusts over time through the course of the 2021 NFL season, and beyond when used in franchise mode. Teams will play more authentically and no two games will feel the same thanks to these changes.
Speaking of franchise, the mode the Madden community wanted to see improved the most is packing a punch in 2021 thanks to significant resources dedicated by EA Sports to make the mode a premier playing experience. EA Sports has introduced offensive and defensive coordinators into the mix, as well as player personnel executives, adding depth to the staffs of each NFL team and a new layer of decisions for users to make when planning and executing their vision for their selected team within franchise mode. The new advanced scouting will matter, of course, as will another new feature that allows users to manage player health. Designate the intensity of an individual player's practice week workload in order to get him some rest or further his development and watch your decisions affect the outcome of your team's games on Sunday.
And if those Sundays don't start in your favor, circle up with your virtual players in the locker room during the break with all-new halftime adjustments. Football is, in fact, a game of adjustments, and Madden NFL 22 will equip you more than ever to take control of your team's destiny.
That's not all that Madden is bringing to the field this season. Franchise will continue to see improvements throughout the year via multiple live service updates, with the first being a highly anticipated overhaul to player scouting.
Madden NFL 22 launches on Aug. 20, and EA Sports has promised to provide even more in-depth information in the coming weeks. Click here to preorder the MVP Edition of Madden 22 to receive your ticket into the world of next-gen football and enjoy early access to the game three days before launch.