Madden NFL is one of the oldest franchises in gaming, with its first release dating all the way back to 1988. If you’re someone who wants to finally see what the long-running series is all about you’ll have your work cut out for you as there are a truckload of entries to choose from. Now, you could simply start with the most recent installment, Madden NFL 21, or you could go for one of its predecessors, many of which were generally better received.
To help you with that decision, we decided to put together a quick list of the best Madden NFL games of the past decade. We didn’t want to make this list too long so we won’t go any further back than Madden NFL 11, which came out back in July 2010.
11. Madden NFL 21
The latest entry in the series was off to a rocky start when it launched back in August. The game shipped with the usual array of bugs and glitches along with other game-breaking issues. But probably the biggest issue is EA’s increasingly aggressive monetization, which lead to more than a few players going out of their way to buy Madden 21 coins from alternative sources just to spite the company. This explains why sellers of the currency, often referred to as Mut 21 coins, seem to be so prevalent these days.
10. Madden NFL 20
While the latest entry in the series isn’t doing particularly well at the moment, last year’s installment was received only marginally better. Critics weren’t too harsh with the console versions of the game but the often neglected PC port definitely took a beating. The users weren’t too kind to either judging by the overall scores on Metacritic. If you do want to pick up Madden NFL 20, we recommend the Xbox One version as it looks to be the most solid of the bunch.
9. Madden NFL 12
A lot of Madden NFL fans claim that the series has been declining in recent years, which is something that we can’t really argue with. However, the series did have a few duds back in its heyday as well. While not necessarily a bad entry, Madden NFL 12 was a bit of a letdown compared to its stellar predecessor. The title introduced a plethora of new features, however, players quickly caught on to the fact that most of them were fairly minor and didn’t have a huge impact on the gameplay.
8. Madden NFL 25
In a bit of a clumsy move, EA decided to move away from the usual naming scheme and released the 2014 version of the game as Madden NFL 25. This change was intended to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, but it will undoubtedly cause some confusion in just a matter of years when the 2025 version rolls in. As for the game itself, it was seen by many as a half-hearted attempt at capitalizing on the event. Madden NFL 25 didn’t introduce any major new features and just so happened to release close to the launch of a new generation of consoles, not unlike Madden NFL 21.
7. Madden NFL 19
The 2019 entry in the series is likely one of the most divisive ones of all time. Most critics were very generous with the game, praising the graphical fidelity and innovative features like Real Player Motion. On other hand, players were anything but kind, expressing frustration in the game’s aggressive microtransactions.
6. Madden NFL 15
NFL 15 is notable not just because of all the new features it added at the time but also because it was the first entry in many years to make use of a new game engine. PS4 and Xbox One players certainly appreciated the change, as evidenced by the mostly positive reviews. The same cannot be said about those who played on PS3 or Xbox 360. The PS3 version, in particular, was very poorly optimized and even lacked some of the features that were present on the other versions.
5. Madden NFL 18
The 18th entry in the main series is another divisive game that did great with the critics but very poorly with players, especially those on the PS4. Similar to the aforementioned title, NFL 18 brought with it a new game engine, Frostbite. This is the same engine used by most EA games and helped make NFL 18 the best looking entry in the series up to that point. The game wasn’t necessarily mind-blowing in a lot of other areas but it was certainly a solid entry overall.
4. Madden NFL 17
NFL 17 is a perfect example of EA playing it safe. The company didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this one – visually or mechanically – but made enough small-scale changes that most people were content with the overall result. After all, slow progress is still progress at the end of the day. With a series as old as this one, the best you can really hope for is to get a stable new release each year that brings more positive changes than negative ones. And that’s exactly what fans got with Madden NFL 17.
3. Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 13 is a bit unusual, as it is one of the few entries that didn’t get a mobile port. Instead, that year EA decided to try its hand at PlayStation Vita and Wii U ports, which turned out surprisingly well in hindsight. The game was very good regardless of where you wanted to play it and felt more balanced and complete compared to a lot of other entries on this list. Especially Madden NFL 21. The Kinect features that Microsoft kept trying to push at the time didn’t really work out but they didn’t hamper the experience in any way either.
2. Madden NFL 16
Building upon the success of its predecessor, the game took everything fans loved about NFL 15 and combined it with a plethora of new features and improvements. The end result is a game that’s still a blast to play to this day, especially on PS4 and Xbox One. This is one of the last entries to also release on the previous generation of consoles where the reception was less positive, as it’s often the case. However, that doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the game.
1. Madden NFL 11
Last but certainly not list we have Madden NFL 11, a game that was almost universally praised by fans and critics alike. Despite being one of the most casual-friendly entries in the series, NFL 11 also had plenty to offer to hardcore players. In addition, back in 2010 (when the game launched) EA wasn’t focusing nearly as much on microtransactions as it does today. That meant you got a very good bang for your buck and didn’t have to worry about buying Mut 21 coins like you do with Madden NFL 21. While not necessarily the best Madden NFL game of all time, it is the best of the past decade in our opinion. Which is a bit ironic given that it was also the first.
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.