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Madden 23: The Difference Between Arcade, Competitive, And Simulation Modes Explained

"Madden NFL 23" released on August 23, 2022 to mixed reviews across the board. Critics are saying that although some aspects were still flawed and underwhelming, the new innovations have helped the franchise take a much needed step in the right direction — especially after the mess that was "Madden NFL 22." Though reviews seem to disagree on the merits of the new Skill Based Passing system (as seen in reviews from GamesRadar+ and GameInformer), it seems the general consensus across the board is that the FieldSENSE feature and other general updates to the in-game physics add a smooth touch of realism.

This does, however, mean that there are more settings and game sliders to fiddle with in order to produce the most realistic game experience possible— so much so that there are multiple guides on the matter. One of the enduring features from previous titles that plays a big part in overall gameplay realism — or lack thereof — is the Game Style system, which allows you to pick from wildly different modes of play. Here is a quick rundown of the differences between the Arcade, Competitive, and Simulation styles in "Madden NFL 23."

A way to set the difficulty

In simple terms, the Game Style system is a loose approximation of a difficulty setting, just one that doesn't explicitly rely on terms like "easy" or "hard." There are three styles to choose from: Arcade, Simulation, and Competitive, in order of lowest to highest difficulty for newcomers to grasp (per DBLTAP). Arcade mode lives up to its name and offers the most video game-like experience with big plays, lots of action, and reduced penalties, making it fun and easy to play — even with a limited knowledge of football.

The differences between Simulation and Competitive mode are much more subtle, as two modes both seem to follow the more realistic rules of NFL games. Simulation claims to offer the most realistic experience, while Competitive mode requires a bit more skill and is the standard mode used in official ranked matches. The general player consensus seems to be that Competitive is based entirely on play skill and precision, while Simulation introduces many more uncontrollable and RNG-dictated aspects to mirror the various random circumstances that can occur in real-life games.

All in all, it seems to boil down to a simple approach with each mode: Play Arcade to have fun regardless of skill level, Competitive to hone and test your aptitude with the game mechanics, and Simulation to really enjoy the ups and downs of a football game simulated as closely to reality as currently possible. Just pick the one that sounds like it suits your mood and experience level best!