'Madden 21' gameplay trailer emphasizes improvements built around Lamar Jackson ⁠— on both sides of the ball (video)

Terez PaylorSenior NFL writer
Yahoo Sports

The new gameplay trailer for “Madden 21” is out, and the improvements in this year’s version will be built around its new cover man, Lamar Jackson.

Jackson, who told Yahoo Sports he “shed tears” upon seeing the cover, was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, when he completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. 

His dynamic rushing ability provided a treasure trove of highlights last season, and as such, one of the primary improvements in this year’s “Madden” — ball-carrier mechanics — was made with the desire to help gamers feel like Jackson on the sticks.

“We’ve created new combo moves on the right stick that we’re currently calling the ‘Skill Stick,’ allowing you to seamlessly combine moves together — like a juke to a hurdle — which we’re coining the ‘Jurdle’ with elite runners like Lamar,” executive producer Seann Graddy told Yahoo Sports. “The Skill Stick will bring a new level of creativity to our players, just like Lamar has done for QBs.” 

To be able to stop players like Jackson, Graddy said they’ve also made the defensive line mechanics more intuitive and responsive.

“[We’ve] basically moved them back to the R-stick where a flick in any direction can give you clear animations and feedback relative to what you’re trying to achieve,” Graddy said. “Open-field tackling on players like Lamar is always be one of the most challenging things to do in both the real world and the game, so new breakdown tackle options and new tackle animations will help balance out the defensive side of the ball.”

Graddy said Lamar’s unique journey to the NFL also served as inspiration for a mode called “Face of the Franchise: Rise to Fame,” which allows gamers to create an athlete and play through his entire career campaign from high school, to college, to the NFL — with experiences at the NFL combine and draft along the way — mirroring the real-life experience of a pro football player. 

“To round things out, we did also put an emphasis on a new presentation package allowing our players to celebrate their highlights on both sides of the ball — just like they do in the real world,” Graddy said.

The game will be available worldwide on Aug. 28, 2020.

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