Madden NFL 18 is nearly here, and for this year’s installment, EA has made some rather big changes to the long-running sports franchise. Among them is the new Longshot mode, a “cinematic” new story campaign that puts players in the role of Devin Wade, a former standout high school quarterback, as he struggles to make it to the NFL.

Reviews for Madden 18 have begun appearing online, and judging by the game’s early reception, it looks like the new features EA has added have helped make this year’s title one of the standouts of the series. We’ve collected a sampling of reviews below; for a wider look at what critics are saying, head over to GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: Madden NFL 18
  • Developer: EA Tiburon
  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Release date: August 25
  • Price: $60 / £60 / AU $99.95

GameSpot — 9/10

“Overall, Madden 18 marks an unusually large shakeup in a series that, due to its annualized releases, rarely features much more than small, iterative changes. The Frostbite engine allows the game to reach new levels of realism in its visuals, and EA has put a lot of effort into constantly evolving the game to keep it in line with real-world events. But it is the Longshot story mode that defines Madden 18. Some of Longshot is unnecessary spectacle, but its lasting value comes from the humanity that it brings to the game. The moments of vulnerability and sincerity between Devin Wade and Colt Cruise during the story are worthy of celebration and give the overall game a weight that Madden hasn’t had before. And if that’s not enough to entice you, it’s also simply a terrific football game.” — Alex Newhouse [Full review]

IGN — Review in Progress

“Ask Tom Brady and Matt Ryan what they think about halftime adjustments. Those adjustments, major or minor, are the key to winning any football game–and that’s exactly the kind of change Madden NFL 18 has made to EA’s series. Madden is coming out of the locker room with more than an adjustment to its gameplay and story mode; the development team just stormed back onto the field with a new engine, improved gameplay, and a story mode finally worth giving a damn about.” — Dustin Toms [Full review]

US Gamer — 4.5/5

“More than ever, Madden NFL is a demanding but fun simulator that accurately represents the real-life sport, and is capable of draining dozens if not hundreds of hours of your time. The jury is out on whether Longshot will be a long-term success; but with the transition to Frostbite and the rock-solid play on the field, Madden 18 has to be considered among the upper echeleon of sports sims.” — Kat Bailey [Full review]

Polygon — 8/10

“Longshot leans hard on all the archetypes of sports mythology, from beat-up pickup trucks and earnest sidekicks to twangy high school coaches and Hall of Fame cameos. But in its heart is a hero both supremely abled and uncertain of himself. And only Madden NFL, which for 30 years has done more than any other work of sports media to make the jargon-laced concepts of American football concrete and understandable, could make that conflict authentic for the user.” — Owen S. Good [Full review]

GamesRadar+ — 3.5/5

“It’s hard not to think of Madden 18 as merely Madden 17.5. This is in no way as big of an improvement as last year’s effort was compared to Madden 16; annual sports franchise-itis (it’s a mouthful) looks to be setting in. It might not be terminal though. Longshot shows signs of a highly-promising, creative future, even if the gameplay is in danger of turning stale. It’s a slight shame that the considerable effort the team at EA Tiburon has put in for its story mode has seen the on-field action lose some of the spark that it dazzled us with so readily last year.” — Bradley Russell [Full review]

Game Informer — 8.25/10

“Madden 18 is missing a host of fixes, wishlist staples, and improvements, but it doesn’t have to appease to have worth. It captures the joy that I find in playing video game football even after all these years. That’s not just a love of the sport with a license slapped on it; it’s the continuing refinement of gameplay and modes that still has the ability to surprise and excite.” — Matthew Kato [Full review]