Review copy provided by EA. Reviewed on PC.
As the thermometer soars, so does the pulse of American football fans. The training camps start, the new teams are formed, and EA Sports serves the latest offshoot from the Madden franchise. But what is new in Madden NFL 20 and what has been improved? I have the answers.
With Madden NFL 18, the first story mode entered the franchise and was then one of the biggest changes. Last year, the Longshot story was then retold, so the newest part had to be something new. The boys and girls of EA Sports are always good for surprises and now bring back the much-wanted college football.
The heart of Madden NFL 20 is “Face of the Franchise: QB1”, which is kind of new story or career mode. Here, the player can create their own quarterback. The career does not start then, as would be expected, in the NFL, but in the college league. Finally, you can play with college teams again, even if EA Sports continues to serve no new NCAA Football title. The newest Madden offshoot has ten college teams to choose from, including strong teams from Clemson and Oklahoma. Likewise, the Florida Gators, the Texas Longhorns, Oregon Ducks, Florida State, USC, Texas Tech, Miami and LSU are also available. Unfortunately, you won’t see Stanford, Alabama, Georgia or the Auburn Tigers. Who knows, maybe next year the stock of college teams will be increased.
Unfortunately, you can not play an entire college season. The entry happens directly in the play-offs. Thus, you will experience one of the shortest college seasons of all time. However, we do not want to complain because we are served a great new mode in which the story plays a central role. Already at the beginning, you have to decide which type of quarterback you want to be. Do you like to be in the Pocket as a Field General, as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers do? Or do you belong to the new QB generation, the scramblers, and move out of the pocket in a similar way to Mahomes or Wilson? It is your decision. Then all you have to do is prove yourself in college and then work your way up to the NFL Combine.
It is a pity that it all felt a bit rushed. As mentioned earlier, you start in the college playoffs. Finally, at Combine, you complete an exercise and give an interview. That was it. Personally, I would have liked a little more depth. Especially the college time would offer to tell a deep story of a quarterback. What does his everyday life look like? How does he reconcile school and sports? How are the gamedays going? Such elements would have been exciting. The Combine could also have had more detail. More exercises, more interview sequences, more football humor. The draft could also be designed with more intensity, for example with a look behind the scenes. This event is ultimately important for the career.
What I find particularly exciting is the gameplay. While you can still control the entire football team in college, it’s over after the draft. Then only the quarterback can be controlled. This clearly shows that entering the NFL begins a new era. In the beginning, this takes getting used to, but all in all, very well done. And if you work hard enough in the professional league, you may even make the leap into the Pro Bowl selection.
If you’re hoping for a continuation of the longshot story in the latest Madden section, you’ll be disappointed. EA Sports will leave the story aside for this year. Whether this will be the case forever or whether Longshot will make a comeback next year remains to be seen. I would definitely like to have the story back. The only question is whether this would be achievable since the story is already relatively advanced.
Okay, admittedly, the term X-Factor does not necessarily refer to American football, but EA Sports had to give this new, very successful feature a name. So far, it has been the case that the players have distinguished themselves apart according to their ratings. But somehow, Tom Brady was not really a Tom Brady. At least not like on TV. This superstar factor was missing. Even the fans have repeatedly criticized this, which is why EA Sports made changes. The developer has selected 50 elite players and provided them with the X-Factor. The best players in the NFL can carry their entire team. Even if it does not work out, they manage to get into the zone, play their game and so inspire the team. You can do it, to play a game with individual actions and to steer the entire season in different directions. In short, you make the difference.
This is exactly what EA Sports wants to do with the X-Factor. Each of the 50 selected players has certain tasks tailored to their needs. If these are met, skills can be unlocked. Some of them are active throughout the game. I’m talking about the temporary zone and permanent superstar abilities. The X-Factor does not simply adjust scores, it changes the behavior and character traits. This gives Madden NFL 20 a very special touch.
For example, if Mahomes enters his zone, he can throw more passes. But if he is then bagged or throws an interception, he is out of the zone and must rebuild. Mahomes superstar capability includes the no-look deadeye, the perfect fit for cross-body throws. It gets exciting when an attacker and a defender use their X-Factor. When the athletes come together, it’s a 50:50 situation.
The X-Factor is also available in the franchise and Ultimate Team modes, giving the gameplay a whole new component that is really fun. By the way, did you know who is the best-rated player of the new Madden? No? I’ll tell you: Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, followed by Khalil Mack and DeAndre Hopkins.
The big innovation of the game is “Face of the Franchise: QB1”. Add to that the X-Factor, which gives the gameplay more depth and ensures that Madden NFL 20 feels extremely good in play. Of course, EA Sports also works on the appearance of the series year after year, making the games look a little more detailed and better. Further improvements in details make this Madden by far better than its predecessors.
EA Sports has developed special animations for selected players. Some animations of some quarterbacks are modeled on the real role models. You can see right away whether Brady or Mahomes is throwing the ball. In addition, the QBs are different in speed with ball delivery. The players have also received new celebrating animations. Same goes for body movements like Juke, Spin, Hurdle, Truck, Stiff Arm and Broken Tackles. The superstars now not only look like real role models, but they are also moving that way.
As you know, this year Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs graces the cover of the game. An honor for every player. But also one that had a bad taste in the past. Fan circles also talk about the Madden cover curse. Accordingly, players who decorate the cover has a bad season. Tom Brady almost broke the curse two years ago, but then lost the Superbowl to the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers was the cover athlete who soon clashed with his team and had to look for a new employer. Let’s see how Mahomes will fare. Last year, he failed in the play-offs to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who later won the Superbowl.
I know which question interests you the most: is it worth buying Madden NFL 20? There is only one answer: yes, definitely! EA Sports is consistently advancing the game. The latest edition is the franchise’s best-ever football title. Although we must say goodbye to Longshot, which admittedly is a pity, we welcome with “Face of the Franchise: QB1” a whole new mode, which was able to please me. Sure, everything is not perfect here, you could have gotten more out of it. The X-Factor is a successful addition to the gameplay and ensures that Madden has never played so well as in the latest version.