EA has confirmed rumors that Coach John Madden will be the cover star of Madden NFL 23.
John Madden, who had a long career as both the coach of the Oakland Raiders and a football analyst, died in December 2021. EA is honoring Madden — the namesake and inspiration behind its highly successful football game franchise — by renaming a recently renovated field at its Redwood Shores headquarters to the “John Madden Field” and putting him on the cover of Madden NFL 23. There will be three unique covers, including one by artist Chuck Styles for the digital-exclusive Madden NFL 23 All-Madden Edition.
Speaking to Digital Trends, executive producer Aaron McHardy said that EA typically looks at the most exciting and Madden brand-aligned athletes in the NFL when choosing a cover star. But he says there wasn’t much of a debate about who would headline the next game after the team learned of Madden’s death.
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“I don’t even think there were discussions as everybody just arrived at the fact that he’s going back on the cover because we have to honor him in the best way we possibly can,” McHardy said. “It’s been so long since he was on the cover of the game, but the game has got his name on it every single year, so we wanted to do everything we could to honor the legend like he is, and it was a no-brainer to put him on the cover.”
Madden is not just being honored on the cover. The first thing players will experience when booting up Madden NFL 23 is a fictional game where two versions of Madden are facing off against each other with all-star teams of athletes in the 1970s Oakland Coliseum. This game will even include real voice clips from Madden, remastered just for this experience. McHardy also believes Madden’s influence can be felt outside of that opening game because his death encouraged the development team to work harder.
“I didn’t have the pleasure of speaking with him, but I know a lot of the guys on the team did.” McHardy continued. “He was invested in making sure that our game was the most authentic 11v11 football game that it could be. It was obviously a sad and somber moment to lose someone like Coach Madden, but it really energized the team in a way this year to think about our features, what we’re building, and how we can honor that legacy.”
Madden NFL 23 will be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S later this year.
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This console generation isn’t about games or hardware. It’s about services
It’s been over two years since the start of the current console generation, which launched with a rocky start at the end of 2020. You'd think it's been more than long enough to understand what it's all about, but for many, there's still confusion. That might be changing this year. As Tomas Franzese wrote earlier this month, 2023 could be the year where we finally see what games define this generation’s consoles, at least in terms of exclusives. He also noted that games could stop being cross-platform, launching on just current-gen consoles instead of simultaneously on last-gen ones.
While that'll finally give us some memorable games, it doesn't bring us closer to defining the hardware itself. Besides a few extra teraflops and new ultra-fast SSDs, there isn’t much that helps the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S stand out from their predecessors. Sure, the PS5 looks like a giant spaceship, and the Xbox Series X is built like a fridge, but we didn’t know what these devices could offer that the PS4 and Xbox One couldn’t besides some pretty lighting effects and virtually non-existent loading times.
Move over Zelda: Tchia is officially my most anticipated game of 2023
There are many big-budget games to look forward to in 2023, like Starfield, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But after going hands-on with a much smaller indie title, I have a new most anticipated title of 2023. The game in question is Tchia, a vibrant, cheerful, and free-flowing open-world game about a girl exploring a tropical archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.
Tchia - Commented Gameplay Walkthrough
Tchia first caught my attention in a hands-off preview of Kepler Interactive's Gamescom lineup last year, but it took me going hands-on to really understand the magic of Tchia. A freeing open-world game in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Elden Ring, or Sable, Tchia lets players loose on beautiful islands in the Pacific and gives them tools to explore by climbing, gliding, possessing animals and objects, and sailing wherever they want. Its deep understanding and respect for the culture it represents enhance the experience too. If you're wondering what indie darling will wind up becoming this year's critically acclaimed game of the year dark horse, you'll want to keep an eye on Tchia.
What is Tchia?
Tchia is an open-world game following a little girl (named Tchia) trying to find her missing father on an archipelago inspired by New Caledonia, a tropical archipelago in the Pacific Ocean where some of the game's developers are from. While players have the stamina to climb up buildings and trees, swing from them, and even swim, dive, and sail around these islands, they can also soul-jump into lots of different animals and objects. These each add even more gameplay gimmicks that enhance exploration and help Tchia solve puzzles.
I had the chance to play some main story missions during my preview where Tchia befriends a young girl and explores one of the game's biggest islands, completing various objectives and even hunting for treasure. The story was fairly light in what I played, but the gameplay really shined. Although I had some objectives, it was just as fun to climb up the trees near the starting town and fling Tchia into a glide to travel a longer distance.
I could then let go of that glide to do tricks in the air or soul-jump into an animal, allowing me to explore the world in a new way. Tchia makes exploration feel fantastic, as you'll immediately feel like you have all the tools to make this world your oyster.
Oh, and did I mention you can play the ukulele? Because Tchia features a fully playable ukulele.
At a couple of narrative beats during my preview, I encountered rhythm-game-like segments as Tchia performed specific songs, but I could also play the ukulele at any time while I was exploring if I wanted to. While you can play whatever you want, specific melodies have additional effects, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Timestyle. The results of these tunes range from simply changing the time of day to giving Tchia a buff that allows her to breathe underwater infinitely.
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