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EA Sports trailer reveals next-gen Madden and FIFA

In-engine footage on PS5 and Xbox Series X

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Electronic Arts is kicking off the next generation of sports video games with Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21, and the publisher debuted a trailer for both games at EA Play Live to show off some of the new features that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will deliver.

EA is referring to its next-gen titles under the heading of “Next Level,” and the Next Level website lists the new elements that players can expect from these games. The company is promising “blazing fast load times” — enabled by the high-speed SSDs in both next-gen consoles — as well as more lifelike animation technology in both games. A new deferred lighting and rendering system creates better-looking stadiums, while better-looking player models (with more defined athlete physiques, and more detailed uniforms and equipment) come from dynamic lighting and finer details.

One feature that the website highlights for Madden is spatialized audio that brings the stadium atmosphere to life. It doesn’t seem like this will be limited to the PS5 and its Tempest 3D AudioTech, but one feature that is exclusive to Sony’s next-gen console is haptic feedback from the DualSense controller, which EA says will let players “sense the impact of shots, passes, catches, kicks, tackles, and hits.”

Other improvements come in the area of immersion, thanks to “visually enhanced weather conditions” in Madden — you can see Tom Brady’s drenched Buccaneers jersey — and realistic athlete behavior in both games. You’ll see soccer players “adjusting shin pads in the 89th minute,” and wide receivers “screaming for passes in the endzone.” Curiously, EA makes no mention of real-time ray tracing, one of the key hardware features of both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

Just like with Madden NFL 21, EA will offer its Dual Entitlement program for FIFA 21, meaning that customers who buy the game on PS4 or Xbox One can get a free upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X versions, respectively. The company noted that physical copies can’t be used to upgrade to next-gen versions on discless consoles like the PS5 Digital Edition.

FIFA 21 will debut Oct. 9 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC (via Steam and Origin), and Xbox One. As announced earlier this week, Madden NFL 21 will launch Aug. 28 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of both games are coming later this year, and both games will also be released on Google Stadia this winter.

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