August has arrived, and with the warm weather comes everyone’s favorite football franchise. That’s probably because it’s the only football game, but that’s because the NCAA is stupid and apparently has no idea how to make money. Anyway, it’s Madden season and this year’s installment of Madden showcases last year’s MVP on the cover, Patrick Mahomes. This new Madden is bringing a bunch of new content that we haven’t seen in a Madden game in many years.
I got Madden 20 early with EA Access and played all the different game modes to get an idea of how I feel about each of them. When I gave Madden’s new mode, Face of the Franchise, a play before any of the other modes, I was surprised at how much I disliked it. This is one of the brand new modes that Madden has showcased in pretty much all of their promotional videos and trailers.
You start out creating your character and getting a very brief background of your player and what is going on with his career. He’s about to step up and become the starter in an NCAA playoff game in hopes of helping his team get to the National Championship. He’s a nobody at this point and it’s your job to show the world he deserves the spotlight and eventually a spot on a team in the NFL. You’re only able to play as the QB, so after you’ve customized how your character looks, the next thing you’ll notice is that he’s standing in front of a few different college hats. You’ll see their colors and logos and you’ll have the option of picking which team you want your character to play for. You will then have the option to pick the team you’d like to play against in the playoffs.
On your way into the locker room before the first game, your character will be asked a question during an interview about what quarterback he looks up to and, based off which one you pick, this will determine your character’s playstyle moving forward. After you play these games, your character will be able to be drafted. Then, from that point onward, you’ll focus on your character’s career as a QB in the NFL. It’s a very simple and straight forward game mode that has been done in other sports games over the past few years, so this isn’t very special. You do get an idea of what EA would produce if they were to make a modern-day NCAA football game though.
Aside from Face of the Franchise, players will have the same game modes they’ve had in years past. You’ll still have your MUT and online Head to Head game modes. MUT is very similar to the past years’ versions, but players now have the option to equip abilities and X-Factors to certain characters.
Speaking of X-Factors, I guess I should talk about them a bit since they themselves are new to Madden. X-Factor abilities seem to be the new focus with Madden. It’s a way for them to have certain players stand out. These X-Factor abilities are only able to be implemented if the character is able to perform certain stats in-game. For example, if you have the X-Factor abilities for JuJu activated, then you’re able to have a better chance of catching the ball in single coverage. In order for you to get to that X-Factor activated, however, your character is going to need to catch the ball for a set amount of times and for a specific amount of total yards.
On top of X-Factor abilities are players’ basic abilities. It is important to note that not all players have X-Factor abilities. I’d say not to fret if your favorite elite player is within this category, though, because it is possible that, that player will still have a separate ability available to them. Overall, I like the concept because it makes these certain players stand out more, which is very similar to how they do in real life.
The main changes with Madden – and the changes I cared about the most – were related to the gameplay. The gameplay is starting to feel a lot smoother this time around compared to previous years. I honestly haven’t enjoyed a Madden since 2008 and it’s nice to finally feel like I’m playing a completely new game with this edition. The overall physics engine has been overhauled to make everything that takes place throughout the game feel more genuine. The players feel more alive than they ever have and every movement you perform on the controller actually means something, and can ultimately determine the outcome of a play.
Madden is a game I continue to buy each year, mainly because I enjoy football and need to have something new to play after a while. I generally only purchase any sports games for the roster update, but I always see myself complaining about the game just days after purchasing it. For the first time in years, I’ve put hours into a Madden and notice that I keep wanting to play more. MUT is more in-depth than it’s ever been and the overall gaming mechanics have finally made me appreciate what EA can do with a football game. I’m excited to see the upcoming tuners and in-game changes that they add to the game post launch on August 2, 2019.