Madden has finally returned to the PC. At last, a great American football game on Windows that doesn’t star orcs or run on an emulator! I’ve spent a few days with the PC version, and I’m here to answer the first question for every PC release: How does it run?
Does Madden NFL 19 match the best PC ports of this generation, or has EA done the minimum to bring its beloved football series to Windows? The answer is somewhere in the middle. We tested Madden 19’s PC code on both a 2018 Razer Blade laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and a custom tower PC with a GTX 980 Ti. The port is impressive but flawed, an occasionally unreliable but promising starting point for future updates.
All the basic settings are here: resolution, v-sync, locking frame rate at a couple of variables or leaving it unlocked. The game also includes a handful of more advanced options, like the ability to toggle between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 and modify the quality of the game’s shadows and crowds.
Here’s a screencap of the full menu (don’t worry, we switched to 1080p for the capture):
The graphics settings are only available through the main menu, frustratingly inaccessible from the options panel during games.
On the Razer Blade, I ran into a variety of issues. In DirectX 12 mode, the game’s frame rate fluctuated wildly at 1080p resolution. During plays, Madden 19 ran at more than 100+ frames per second, but it dipped into the 20s when a graphical overlay wiped the screen or the camera cut to a coach on the sidelines. Many times during an uneventful matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the action froze for a couple of seconds, and on a few occasions, the image cut to black. In DirectX 11 mode, the game no longer had these problems, though it inexplicably locked to 30 frames per second, even with the frame rate set to “no limit.”
On Polygon’s office gaming PC, Madden 19, again set at 1080p, ran reliably in both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 modes. Though its frame rate wasn’t perfectly stable, occasionally hiccuping when the camera cut to wide shots of the stadium, it managed a locked 60 frames per second during plays.
Beyond the graphics, both builds were littered with Madden messiness: Each game featured a bundle of moments when a football contorted in a strange way, or one character’s arms clipped through another. This may be an issue with Madden in general rather than this particular port.
Otherwise, Madden 19 looks fantastic on PC. The bump in resolution, frame rate and post-processing effects makes for a smoother and more visually striking experience. More than ever, Madden 19 on PC looks at first blush like live television footage. Of course, the longer you watch, the more likely it is that a player will behave in some inhuman way or a close-up will reveal the quarterback to have the soulless eyes of a horror movie doll. But as you can see in the footage, the developers at EA Tiburon finally have put their game on a platform that truly benefits all the detail they stuff into each new entry.
The unpredictability of the build is certainly frustrating, though hardly surprising. That said, it shows a lot of promise, especially for Madden’s first entry on PC in over a decade. How EA patches and updates this entry will likely decide if we must wait another 11 years for a Windows-friendly follow-up.
Madden NFL 19 launches Aug. 7 for pre-order customers and Aug. 10 for everybody else.