The Shacknews staff was pretty excited following E3 2018 and the reveal from the EA Play press event that the popular Madden franchise would be returning to the PC platform after more than a decade of absence. The pro football series had undergone two full console generations of upgrades during that extended vacation and the prospect of getting a AAA NFL title on an underserved platform created a minor stir within the community. Disappointingly, the launch version of Madden NFL 19 featured a few bugs and omissions that deflated much of the excitement. With this week’s September Title Update, the PC version of Madden 19 has truly begun to reach the potential that fans envisioned when the game’s announcement was first made.
In my review of the PC version of Madden NFL 19, I had to give the game strikes for a bland franchise mode, some odd option omissions, and completely broken support for high refresh rates. In the first few versions of the game, letting the game run without the included 30 or 60Hz lock caused stuttering issues and made player animations look jittery while dropping frames. It affected the feel of the controls as well. Simply put, the game was unplayable above 60Hz, despite the development team touting high refresh rate support.
Thankfully, the September Title Update offers a cure for some of these issues. I’ve confirmed on my own PC that playing at 120 and 144Hz now works properly with perfect frame pacing and no jittery player animations (with HDR enabled as well!). Oddly, the players seem to move much more quickly to the line after huddles on both sides of the ball, but the actual play is all good. Seeing the game running this smoothly is a sight for weary PC football fan eyes. The clarity of the motion, particularly in pre/post-snap cutscenes is a revelation. This is a far cry from the seesaw jitters you get from the console variants of the game. The controls feel a bit better as well, thanks to the elimination of any input lag that could be associated with 60Hz and lower refresh rates.
Franchise Mode also gets a big helping of fixes, adjustments, and improvements that helps make life easier for the folks who prefer to stay off the field. Most all menu items can now respond to mouse clicks and moving through the menus is less of a pain. It almost feels like someone at Tiburon finally played the PC version and took notes. The improvement is very much welcome. Finally, performance is still as strong as it was at launch. Even at 144Hz with 1440p Ultra Settings, MSI Afterburner only showed my 1080 Ti at 48% utilization. The Frostbite Engine is very well optimized and Madden has lots of graphical headroom to play with for future installments of the game. Here’s hoping Madden NFL 20 takes a serious leap forward in player models, lighting, and animations.