DDSPF 22 Review - The replay factor is through the roof

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Legacy Management Games Reviews

This franchise has come a long way, and now feels like it’s closer to a polished, finished product than a work-in-progress.

I have been reviewing games for GMGames for a decade now. And only once have I said, I can’t do this.

That was with Draft Day Sports: College Football.

I don’t remember what version it was. However, I could not do it.

Now, I tried. I tried to play the hell out of that game. However, that game was the most difficult, frustrating experience of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, what I was even attempting to do, nor how to get anywhere within the game.

After a month of starting and stopping, I told Chris Valius (the head of GMGames) and Gary Gorski (the head of Wolverine Studios) that I needed to pull away from the project. I am not someone who quits; when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. The frustration I have over not completing that piece still bothers me to this day. However, I could not write something that would have benefited anyone.

I admit that because, after I finished my review of the Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 22, I told Chris that I would review Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 22. Chris is an optimistic person; heck, he might not even remember that I pulled out of the college football review. 

But I do. (I just told you about it.)

This review is part journalism, part personal challenge. I was one of the original crew around the first game Brooks Piggott, the developer of Draft Day Sports’ football series, created. I have always believed in Brooks’ vision. But, I got lost along the way.

I wanted to see what Brooks and the Wolverine team have done since I tapped out; would they get me back into the fold? Is there now a football game worthy enough of the sim community’s time?

I can tell you this: this is a complete review. (I’m writing this part last.) And, overall I’m pleased with the experience I’ve had. I think, if you’re interested in a football game that is becoming a more immersive experience, you should read on. And get on board.

Here, courtesy of the Wolverine website, are some of the new features for this year’s version.

Graphics / Interface

When I played DDSCF a few years ago, I found a tedious, frustrating process. It was as if I was in a maze that seemed to repeat, with nary an exit to be found.

With the UI refresh installed by Wolverine nearly two years ago, DDSPF 22 is much more of a direct route system. It’s straightforward, which is always a plus. You never want your players to have to wonder where things are, or how to access certain screens.

This is a double-edged sword for Wolverine games. Going full Apple here—one method that applies to everyone—rather than Android—where customization reigns—is great for players who want to know what they’re going to get whenever they open a game. By branding all of Wolverine’s games to the same layout, they have built a consistency that makes jumping into a game much easier.

By the same token, if you aren’t a fan of Wolverine’s layout, or prefer a method akin to Out of the Park, where you can customize your major information screens (such as the team Home Screen, which you can pick, choose, and design your preferred page from a plethora of informational options), then this may be disappointing.

I believe the majority of players fall into the former camp, where consistency over customization wins out. Now, I speak for myself when I say that, when I get into a game, especially a new game, the sooner I’m able to get into actual playing, the better. So, this is a system that works very well for me.

Now, when it comes to the rest of the layout, that depends on how much you like scrolling. Let’s take the Power Rankings screen, for instance. The screen is laid out very well; it’s actually the way I want the league lineups screen in DDSPB to be presented (note to self: email Gary about this). The information is easy to read and digest.

However, there is way, way too much dead space. Look at the Team column. Honestly, it’s not even something you need. You have the team logos there. You can have pop-ups that come alive whenever you hover over a logo, complete with more information and the ability to go to that team’s page.

You know how I know this can be done? It’s because it’s done elsewhere.

You could shrink this screen to have everything on one page, simply by eliminating the team names and going to clickable logos. Also, consider how much more value the player would get if those logos could access team pages. Or if, say, the Game Recaps (found in the League Office, which is a wonderful screen that could be so, so much more) could click into the boxscores. Or if standings were found on that same screen? You could use team abbreviations or logos for a simple grid that would fit in one of the two spots (bottom left, bottom right) that is currently devoid of anything useful.

Some other things I would adjust:

This should be two columns, honestly.

  • The League News screen (which is the feed you get in the League Office, but on a dedicated screen) should be two columns side-by-side, not one scrolling down; get more on one page. Let the user click to more news, rather than scroll
  • Additionally, you can click on players while on this screen; however, I have found that you can’t click on all of them. A cornerback came out and destroyed his teammates after a loss; I wanted to know what kind of personality the player was, so I hovered over the player (which brings up a mini-card for that player, which I like, but could love), and nothing came up. That was disappointing.
  • With regards to that mini-card that does pop up, give more information. Right now, it’s just the bio, three stats and their OVR rating. Put the personality in there; put more stats in there (especially for skill positions). Cram as much as you can into that space; it’s incredibly useful, because you don’t have to click and go into a new screen. So give yearly stats, what they did last game…whatever. Go to town on that mini-card!

    • Lastly with the League News screen…ANY time there is a player or team name, those should be clickable to that player or team screen. It should be complete. It won’t overwhelm the user; even if it did, I’d rather that than have inconsistent coverage (see above). Also, game recaps should click through to boxscores. That feels like a wasted opportunity at added immersion.
    • Add more to the Team Info pages, such as overall record, playoff records, division/conference/championship titles, etc.
    • Shrink the Awards screen into two columns. No scrolling. (I’m treating scrolling as the new clicking, I know.)
    • The Draft Picks screen currently has three years’ worth of upcoming draft picks. This actually seems counterintuitive. A pull-down menu for a year of picks would allow for all the picks to show on one screen. Additionally, the menu could have each team’s picks, so you know what’s been traded, who is stockpiling, etc.

  • The Transactions could get a bit of both the Awards and Draft Picks screen suggestions. The transactions could be pulled into two columns (right now, the entire right half of the screen is blank), and the pull-down menu could be amended to include different kings of transactions. Right now, you can only take in all the transactions at once; if you want to see just trades, or just signings, you can’t.
  • The only way to see the Playoff (re: Conference) standings are on the Play/Sim page. Why is this not available on the regular standings page as well? That limits the usefulness of that screen.
  • The Player Analysis Screen needs a lot of enhancement; for QB, it can be adding completion percentages with various receivers. For running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, it can be an analysis of their yards-per-carry on different plays/run(route) types. Right now, it’s just a QB throwing analysis (distance/direction) or a screen that shows what defenders are doing, even if that player isn’t a defender.
  • Wolverine has a bunch of personalities in the game, and there are reports based on issues the coaching staff is having with different players. Yet, when you go into the personality section of the roster, there is no indication of these issues. There is morale (the screenshot below shows the handy guide that shows what all of the categories on that screen mean), but there is no visual indicator that shows you that there’s an issue. There should be.

I think the game is laid out wonderfully. I also think it’s wasting too much space to be efficient. 

When it comes to the 2D engine…this has come a long way. I remember when Brooks first started the game (going back through old emails to figure out timelines put this at…ten years ago. Honestly, I did not expect that), and how intriguing the in-game looked. It looked very basic (just dots, no numbers or anything), and really, looked like a youth soccer game. (You know, all the dots bunched up, like a bunch of seven-year-olds all trying to kick the ball at the same time.) But Brooks had the start of something that was quite intriguing.

Now, again…TEN YEARS LATER…this part of the game has naturally grown, while keeping much of the feel from its old Barcode Games days.

Admittedly, and I’m coming in as a relic who hasn’t played the game since the second version, I’m both intrigued and disappointed. The game continues to play a visually appealing game, especially for this genre. It has a clean layout, and you can generally follow the action. (Though you have to get the animation and play speed just right to get it just right. My suggestion: Speed up the Play Speed, but keep Animation Speed where it is.)

At the same time, the game holds itself back here.

On either side of the field, there are two panels. When you put on the headset (ie play the game out), your panel fills with the playbook. You get pull down menus of the package, playbook, formation and play, as well as a diagram of the current play selected by the Play Pulldown menu (the game will always suggest a play to you, like the coordinator would).

I don’t have an issue here. 

I have an issue with everything else.

First of all, there are two scoreboards, one above, and one below. Pick one. You can shrink the one below and move it above. You can do a mashup of the two, and put it above. Regardless, there should not be two scoreboards; it’s a redundancy that detracts from the experience.

Next, this is a game predicated on information. In this game against Dallas (I originally started this paragraph while playing Jacksonville; I decided I needed a better game for the ratings), I have no idea how my team is doing against what Dallas’ defense is calling. I have the player stats, but I don’t know what the stats are for the plays I’m calling; not against Dallas (and this is the second time I’m facing them this season), or in general.

Snack on that, Cowbo…I mean, Superstars!

Maybe this isn’t pertinent information for most players. Maybe it isn’t easy information to parse and present for Brooks and company. I don’t know; I’m not a coder, and don’t know what would be needed to get this information. Personally, I feel this puts off the immersion some. I want to know how what I’m calling is doing; if I’m in a close game late, I want to be able to call something that has a reasonable chance of success. I don’t want it to be a blind dart throw.

For that matter, I have no idea what package Dallas is even using until after the play is called. Shouldn’t I know that? You see it when you’re on defense, but I think it’s important to know their lineup on a given play. That could fill the space on the other side when you’re actually playing the game out.

Overall, when you’re coaching the game, this screen serves its purpose well enough. When you’re just simming and watching the game, though, the game loses its immersion altogether.

Look at that screen. There are two information sections—one for each team—with three different tabs. Look above those sections. There’s NOTHING. I would think you could, at the very least, put the stats there, or the players on the field. Or injury reports. Or scoring recaps. Or team stats. 

There. Is. Too. Much. Wasted. Space.

This a good screen, but it COULD be so, so much more informative and immersive.

This is where I know I’m spoiled by Out of the Park. I know Markus and company have the benefit of their time with SI Games, and the relationships that were fostered there…but their in-game screen is as good as it gets for this community. You have the ability to see several different bits of information at once. You can optimize your screen for your in-game experience. Now, OOTP goes a step further, one I don’t expect for Wolverine to take right now, where they allow for the windows to be moved around.

Seeing this, though, makes me wonder if Wolverine is doing their in-game screens all wrong. Is it possible that Wolverine, by keeping the on-field action in the dead center of the screen, is actually working against themselves? If they were to slide the field, say, to the bottom left, with the scoreboard above it (along with the timeouts and play recap; seriously, that isn’t necessary both above and below the field; one of the two scoreboards is redundant; I’m inclined to believe it’s the one below it), and put the stats, injuries, and whatever else on the right third of the screen…wouldn’t that make this a much more immersive experience?

I can understand how the layout, as it currently is, puts the emphasis on the field; it is the center of the screen, and it’s bright and colorful, set against a black backdrop. There is a simplistic, somewhat understated beauty to that. But at the same time, this is a text sim.

Hit us with the data. 

(Also, you can change your player bubbles to something other than position. Go to Menu>League Options, then click on Player Bubble Text. Options are Position, Jersey, and Slot Label. This would be better served in the initial creation stage, honestly.

To alleviate this, I would do the following:

  • Get rid of the two scoreboards thing. Consolidate to one, put it above the field.
  • Move playcalling to the bottom of the screen. You can even increase the number of plays you see to 3-4 (thus taking out the pulldown Play menu, and making it more visual)
  • Use the side panels to give information; team and player stats, injury reports, playcall reports, drive results, etc. 

One other issue I found infuriating: On the Draft Scouting screen, before the draft, the screen seemed to auto-adjust itself, or erase the scouting checkbox I filled for a player. It’s done it several times (I’m currently doing it now, and ready to step away from the game because it keeps doing this to me. 

There is one more thing that needs to be discussed here, because it doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

We need RedZone.

Okay, so in Front Office Football…I want to say 7, though it may have been in 6, Jim Gindin put in an option to sim out an entire week with scores hidden. Then you could go back and watch your game, or any game that week. You can do that here, too. It’s not a revolutionary bit.

What was the revolutionary bit (I hadn’t gotten there yet) was this: The games played out in a “real-time” format, and you could jump in and out of any game as it was playing out, and watch it from that moment. If you’re scoreboard watching to see if your team has a chance at a playoff spot in the final week, well…you could do that in that game.

It’s also a feature in OOTP, where their Real-Time Sim, and the Out-of-Town scoreboard, has made the in-game experience truly immersive and enjoyable.

Above anything else, this is the thing that needs to be added to this game. I’m sure that there are things that players have been clamoring for for multiple versions. Maybe they have been clamoring for this. If so, I’m jumping on that bandwagon.

What makes this feel even more regressive than it is? There is no out-of-town scoreboard. The games are in a closed, standalone environment. I had thought that this was a 21st Century complaint, but this was in the original Madden; it was in Joe Montana Football.

But it’s not here? Football is the most Out-of-Town Scoreboard game there is.

It needs to be added.

(Then add RedZone. Realistically, this should be the next point-of-emphasis for all Wolverine games, having games play out in the universe in a “real-time” environment.)

Grade: 9. With all Wolverine Games, this has a clean, consistent look. Also with all Wolverine Games, there is real estate that can be better utilized. DDSPF22 is less efficient in its information, and has a lot more unused real estate, than its basketball siblings. That can, and should, be viewed as a positive; it means there is a lot the game can improve upon.


When you boot the game up, you get three initial options: Career, Sandbox, and Multiplayer. Those are par for the course when it comes to Wolverine games.

After that? Wow.

Here is the rundown:

  • NFL: Eight different setups; four pre-merger setups, a 1950 build, a 1970-75 build, and the two most recent builds (32 teams, 16 and 17 games)
  • US (USFL?): 8, 14, 18 teams
  • United: 8 teams
  • World Football League: 10 teams
  • Canadian: 8 teams (not Canadian rules, though)
  • Custom: 34 different builds, ranging from 8-72 teams

That is absolutely a lot of configurations, and one I very much appreciate. Additionally, there are multiple playoff formats; this threw me off at first, because the default is the new 14-team playoff. However, if you click on a different setup (it ranges from 4-team playoff to 14-team), it will update in the description how many teams get in.

The one nitpick here would be that, as the league’s increase, it would be nice to increase the number of playoff teams. If I were to start a 72-team league, I would want perhaps a 16, maybe 20-team playoff. That’s still under a third of the teams; however, you are locked into the formats available. While it is a lot, and far more than I thought there would, this is a minor quibble.

  • You can also adjust the following:
  • Starting Year
  • Roster Size (40 or 53)
  • Practice Squad Size
  • Overtime Format (None, Sudden Death, Modified Sudden Death, 1 Extra Quarter, Unlimited Quarters)
  • Playoff OT Format
  • Preseason Games
  • User Type (Global, Local
  • Roster Source (Default, CPU-generated, user-created, user-created historical)
  • Start Method (Creation Draft, Auto Draft, Assign to Team (both start with FA)
  • Financial Amounts
  • Contracts by Position
  • Checkboxes: Can Be Fired, Disable Injuries, Disable 2D Display, Serpentine Draft, Hard Mode

That offers you a lot of control at the start of your league. This doesn’t even take team/city adjustment and GM creation into account.

There is one other aspect of this game that sends me into a rage: YOU CAN SIM MULTIPLE SEASONS. Why is this not in the pro and college basketball games? I demand an explanation.

Grade: 10. Overally, this is very, very impressive. I’m sure there are some who feel this is overkill; my feeling is that, when it comes to league customization, you can’t have too much. (Cue up those OOTP complaints about creating a league of just fifth-grade teacher assistants on the moon to the left of the hut or whatever we thought we saw there recently; go ahead and look it up…that’s in the game probably). It’s better to have formats that don’t get run than the other way around.

Gameplay / AI

I’m not going to profess to be an expert on football, nor football sims. I understand a reasonable amount, generally as much as the next person. Then Cooper Kupp says something, and I am reminded that I know less than I thought I did.

Basically, I know enough to not sound or feel stupid. I think I can hold my own when analyzing football and plays.

When it comes to DDSPF, though, I feel…well, I can’t tell. I’m either stupid or disconnected. Neither one is the way I want to feel, and I’m certain it’s not how Brooks wants me to feel. But it’s where I am.

The gameplay is straightforward. You work your way through the season, week-by-week, then into the offseason. Go through free agency, draft your future.

Rinse. Repeat. Try not to be worse than you were last season.

This is great…except I have little idea what’s going on after that.

Let’s take free agency, for instance, which is where I am with my Philadelphia Hawks. This is an area I would rather skip altogether; I am not good at the financial aspects of games. Hell, I’m not good at the financial aspects of anything. I can handle baseball and OOTP; that’s pretty straightforward, with guaranteed contracts, and not too many bells and whistles. 

When it comes to DDSPB22 (and really, any of the pro basketball series), I ask the AI to handle contracts; if I offer free agents, I generally just offer whatever they want, or try to take a little off each season if I want to get a bargain. But, really, it’s a stage I’d rather just not deal with, you know? To be perfectly honest, I really just want to draft, and get to the season.

I can’t do that with DDSPF22. At least, I can’t find it. I’m stuck going through something I find tedious. To make matters worse, when I go to the FA screen, the positional breakdown does not show. You have to go to your roster screen to get that. (Yes, I know it comes up when you click on a player. I think this should be on the screen. It does not need to be big. It would, at the very least, help me streamline the process of choosing what positions to go after.

Having your positional breakdown on the FA screen should be expected.

(By the way, I went to my roster, and clicked on “Auto-Adjust Roster”, just to see what would happen. A bunch of guys got signed to minimum contracts. I guess that’s…something. It’s weird, though, that I don’t have the ability to get help signing free agents, but the game will automatically sign minsal guys for me.)

Once I make the offer, I’m informed if I’m in the lead…but not how many teams are in the running for a player.

Okay, look. (I’m teleporting from earlier in the review to here.) I’m on the Draft Screen. And there’s an AUTO SCOUT button. You can get help from the AI here! Why not at the FA screen?!

Bah, I say. Bah.

(I was having issues where I cannot scout anyone who is projected in the top ten. I can interview them, but I cannot scout them. I looked this up in the guide. Basically, from what I can gather, you have 20 points to fill for each player, with prior knowledge giving you a discount on that 20-point cost. So I guess I’ve been able to fill my scouting on the Top 10, just from prior knowledge. That makes some sense, as the media has covered some of the guys ad nauseum. I would suggest graying out those checkboxes, though.)

I would absolutely love to get a “positions of need” part to this screen, even if it’s what the coaching staff thinks we need. I know you get something in the league news from a draft guru or columnist or some such person. I was told I need help at WR and CB. Is that it? Is my team, which missed the playoffs last season (albeit going 9-7 and playing very well at the end of the season), that stacked that we only need two positions’ worth of help?

Also, and I looked this up before I wrote asking/complaining…what in the world are Coach Grades based off of? What is this system? What does a 21.6 mean? I’m guessing that a higher score is better (and the player looked at here is a LB, so naturally, my Defensive Coordinator would be higher).

(Also, if you click on a player, then click out and go back in, their description changes.)

What is a Homely Provider? Or a Polite Egoist? A Bitter Rascal? Why do I want William Vanmeter, a 34-year-old tackle considered to be a defiant scheme, to be a mentor? (I don’t.) I also came across a Depressed Mentor whose morale is high.

I searched for what these phrases mean, and how they might affect my team and its chemistry. We’ve seen that football, like any other sport, is built on chemistry. It might not be as much as basketball, but it’s still important. I even tried to pair these up with potential draftees. But then I come to Devon Monahan, and I’m left to wonder if these mean anything at all.

Monahan is considered to be the best DT in the draft, and third-best player overall (source: The Magazine). In the mock draft, Jim Nox predicts him to go eighth to Miami (Larry Moore does not have him in his top ten.) My scouts seem to like (?) him. At least, they don’t have anything bad to say about him. He rates high in leadership, work ethic, team player, sportsmanship, disposition…he appears to be a kid who can be a major asset on defense.

Monahan is also considered a “Whining Provocateur”. At least, that’s his Social Type.

I searched for this on the WS forums; this was the only concrete answer I could find.

So, as best as I can gather, this is a Wizard-of-Oz situation. Nobody knows what these mean, nor how they affect their players, their team, or their chances. This…this is not good. I’m sure there is SOMETHING that ties in with their ratings on various things like being a team player, desire to win, etc…but we’re left to guess completely, rather than a basic understanding with fog.

I highly suggest that the FIRST thing Brooks/AKH do is explain this in better detail. Right now, it looks like filler. Maybe it is filler right now; the post says it’s laying the foundation for things to come. But that was in the last version. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like not knowing what a potentially key aspect of a game does or does not do. With no actual explanation, this leads me to my overall wonder about this game.

I ended up trading back into the 1st, at #20, to grab Monahan over DT John Watkins. It was a close call, but I went with my gut. I do wish I had the extra information, like combine stats, college stats, etc. That should be on the player screens at the draft; no reason it should not be. Really, the draft is disappointing, due to the lack of information you have on draft day. You should know which players have red flags, know their combine numbers…hell, you should be able to sort by players you’ve interviewed. It’s as if you go through the entire process to the draft, just to get shut out of most of the information you’ve gained through the process. It’s counterproductive, and detrimental to the playing experience.

Perhaps this underscores my original issue: I feel disconnected from the universe when I play. The game presents an awful lot of immersion through its news section, one I value incredibly. But the game also goes to great lengths to keep me at arm’s length from enjoying it. There is no good reason why I should not have every bit of information available to me through the draft process at the draft. There is no good reason why I should have to go to other screens to get information that should exist on the screen I’m on. Heck, there’s no good reason why a player’s experience in the league isn’t on the active roster screen.

I know I should discuss the AI. Personally, I’m not sure I’m qualified to do that. These reviews are Small Sample Size Theater most of the time, unless you’ve played the game a lot over different versions. I have not. The game appears to play a valid form of football; the stats seem to line up (you get a league stats counter on the league office screen, which is a nice touch; you can compare the current year to the previous one). I haven’t seen any issues with statistics, and the issues I have seen through the forums are discussed as more a groupthink situation than anything else. It reminds me of the early OOTP days, when it was just Markus on the coding, and Andreas on the UI.

Take this thread as an example. Brooks was the first response in the thread. He’s also the fourth, fifth, and 14th. AKH chimes in on post 12, and Brooks comes back in at Post 20, explaining that he put some tweaks in for QB rushing for the next patch.

I have confidence in the numbers of the game, and that Brooks is as dedicated as any developer in making the best product he can.

But I still feel disconnected. I have no idea if what I’m doing has any effect on my team. I have no idea to figure out how what I do affects the team. For instance, when I go to Play Analysis, I see a lot of different plays. But I won’t be able to commit a lot of this to memory. The reason I do okay in Madden (shhhh) is because I see the play, and then see the stats that correspond with the play when I’m in the huddle.

That information is available in the Strategy screen in DDSPF22. But you can’t find it in-game. Why? Why do I have to have either encyclopedic knowledge of my team and playbook, or have essentially dart throws all game? 

Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 22 seems to want to simultaneously draw me in and shut me out.

Grade: 8. That push-pull feeling is the most frustrating experience possible for me as a player. And it’ll more than likely shut me out. I imagine it will do the same to others. With a total void of a dominant football game, this game suffers by the design version of a thousand paper cuts. I would think it’s somewhat easily fixable, but I don’t know. I also would have thought that these things would have been pointed out and fixed by now.

As with any growing game, you go into this with the understanding of reviewing it as it is, than try to hold it against where it is going. And this game has grown by leaps and bounds. I think that it needs to push more–especially when it comes to playcalling and digesting the information to learn how to be better at playcalling–in order for this game to head to another level.

(I will also admit that I’m probably grading this tough, and runs in conflict with the replay/fun factor section. I also think that building this towards a 10 is easier than other games, because the issues I have are from an informational/presentation standpoint, rather than issues with the game mechanics.)

Online Modes

Given that Brooks originally built this game with multiplayer in mind, it makes sense that there are a slew of online leagues available. You can find leagues seeking GMs by clicking on this link.

Creating a multiplayer league appears to be easy. All of the same options as any other mode are available; however, the main difference is that you have to password-protect your league.

One really nice touch is in the “Configure Teams” screen. It is easy to name your teams, as well as add personal information for your GMs. It’s also really easy to designate which teams are run by the computer. This is fantastic if you want to run a smaller concept, like a league where all of the human GMs are in one division or conference.

An addition I would love to see is for real-world city data, like what is in Out of the Park. Their system is utopian for team and market creation; you type in a city, and suggestions come up. So if I type in Providence (where I live), then “Providence, Rhode Island” shows up. When I click on that, all of the actual weather data for Providence automatically gets incorporated.

With football being the most weather-friendly sport we have, it would be great if you could set up a franchise that has an advantage in cold weather games, or a higher chance of snow. (You know, like Green Bay, though their homefield advantage in the playoffs hasn’t really worked for them lately.)

This was something I hadn’t given thought to when I wrote earlier parts of this review; I don’t think the absence of weather data detracts from the game, but seeing this made me realize how valuable it could be to this game. I would definitely see if the OOTPD team is in a sharing mood, especially now that their football dreams have been put to rest for now.

It does need to be said that Brooks built this to carry the torch set by FrontPageSports’ Football Pro Series from the 1990s, and there are a few leagues that came from that platform to this one. So there are leagues with a lot of history. 

As always, when it comes to online leagues, look for your fit. With DDSPF22, there are options for leagues to have custom playbooks and plays (more on that in a second). So you have to decide how you want to play. It is definitely worth checking out.

Score: 10. Brooks has built a game geared towards multiplayer, and that shines through here. I do think there are ways to improve upon this (the weather data and geographical location data is definitely one way). But the foundation is quite solid. The evidence is in the leagues that exist.

Replay / Fun Factor

If you got this far, I applaud you. If you read this AND my Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2022 review, you deserve some sort of award. I’m a teacher, though, and don’t get paid for this. Maybe the GMGames crew can make you a badge, though. I think it’s evidence that I want these games to succeed and grow, and that I think highly of them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t write this much. 

So, I hope you enjoyed this, and your interest is piqued in this game. I have just one more thing to discuss, something I neglected earlier…but it fits in perfectly with this section.

Of course, I’m discussing custom playbooks and plays.

These features exist in Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 22. It’s not a hard concept, either; you don’t need an advanced degree in football analytics in order to create either. (Whether they are successful or not…well, that’s a totally different story.) The layout of the custom offensive plays screen is easy to follow, essentially taking you step-by-step through the process.

In researching online leagues, it appears that most do not allow custom playbooks. This leads me to believe that there is the ability to exploit this feature, which is understandable. These games cannot, at least at this time, anticipate the human element. There has been some level of exploitation involved with every game ever created.

People gonna people, you know?

However, this does add a whole new element that most other games do not have. It’s a layer that invites the user to try many different approaches to your gameplanning, in-game coaching, roster construction…it really allows you to play the game however you want.

Now, when I wrote everything I have to this point, none of that is reflective of this section. Because the game is a lot of fun, and the replay factor is through the roof. I think the things I’ve highlighted through this piece would turn this game into an elite, must-have game.

However, as it is now, there is a lot in this game for players to enjoy.

Score: 9.5  DDSPF22 gives you a ton of ways to play. If you don’t care about the suggestions I’ve made in this piece, then it’s a ten. The suggestions I’ve made are how this thing gets to a ten for me.

Conclusion: This franchise has come a long way, and now feels like it’s closer to a polished, finished product than a work-in-progress. There are still some valuable informational gaps that, for me, are preventing it from being at the level that the basketball series are. However, now that the foundation is set, adding in the accompanying pieces will make this all the more satisfying.

I recommend you get this game.

Official Download for Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2022

Leave a comment for John or GM Games on reddit…


  • The game’s UI is very clean and greatly improved from previous versions.
  • The game offers a lot of news and stories that add to the immersion.
  • Online leagues are done well, and are active.


  • Some parts of the game (player personalities) need further explanation.
  • Many screens suffer from too much dead space (I get it, the UI is new).
  • The in-game experience can be better situated, with more information given.


Gameplay and Sim Engine: 8 / 10
Customization: 10 / 10
Replay Fun Factor: 9.5 / 10
Online Modes: 10 / 10
Graphics and User Interface: 9 / 10
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John Comey has been in the sim gaming community for over twenty years, and has justified his bachelors in journalism by writing thousands of pages of material, ranging from articles and reviews to online leagues. He has been the creator of several failed blogs, as well as a LiveJournal or two...not that there's anything wrong with that. He is also the author of the worst technical manual in gaming history (Total Pro Football), and has been an intermittent podcaster since 2005. He has collaborated and contributed to products with Wolverine Studios, Grey Dog Software, and Out of the Park Developments. A native of Harrisburg, PA, Comey has been a New Englander since 2007. He currently resides in the Providence area with his girlfriend and two kitties (Ello and Chidi), where he teaches middle school Social Studies and coaches basketball, soccer and baseball. He also continues to play competitive basketball and baseball, and loves live music and comedy.