For parents, it’s the back-to-school season. For vacationers, it’s (still) summer season. If you are a fan of video games – and sports – it’s officially Madden season.
On Friday, Electronic Arts formally launched “Madden NFL 20,” the latest version of its popular pro football simulation. Although the video game has finally gone public, some players have been hitting the digital gridiron as early as last week by pre-ordering Madden.
This season, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, fresh off his NFL MVP season in 2018, appears on the cover of the game.
So what can players expect this year? Here’s what you need to know about “Madden NFL 20”:
Madden goes back to school
It’s not “NCAA Football,” the beloved college football simulation EA stopped making after 2013, but it’s close enough. In one of Madden’s multiple game modes, players will take a budding superstar and enroll them in college. There is only a handful available, such as Clemson, Florida State, Oregon, Texas, and USC. Also, players only get the college experience during the College Football Playoff, playing in both the semifinal and championship game. Even still, it was a fun flashback to the college days.
Longshot is now Face of the Franchise
Players’ return to college is available through Face of the Franchise, which replaces Longshot as Madden’s attempt at building a story through the eyes of one player. It starts with a high schooler on national signing day. After finishing college, he participates in the NFL Combine for a series of passing drills before hearing his Draft Day fate.
From there, Face of the Franchise plays similarly to Superstar, an option in Madden that lets you create a player (or use a current player) and guide them throughout their career. Special “missions” pop up throughout the season to boost your experience and teammates. So, if a running back is not happy with his production, you may have a “mission” where you need to get him 100 yards and a touchdown to give your team a boost. Sometimes you’ll get asked questions by coaches or reporters during the season that help chart your legacy as a budding NFL star.
The one drawback here is, unlike most Madden modes that let you control nearly every player on the field, Face of the Franchise only lets you control one player. It becomes problematic when relying on AI teammates who sometimes aren’t that smart. Dropping passes is one thing, but having an open lane to run and actively seeking a defensive player to tackle you is too much.
It’s all about the superstars
The other big draw of “Madden NFL 20” is X-Factor Players. When a player pulls off specific feats in a game, their X-Factor activates to give them extra perks. For example, if Saints quarterback Drew Brees completes three passes of five yards or more in a row, he activates Fearless, which makes him unaffected by defensive pressure. If he gets sacked or turns over the ball, he loses the X-Factor. It gives the league’s premier players some extra benefits and makes them a lot more enjoyable to play.
It ain’t Madden season without the glitches
Did the weird bugs that appear to accompany Madden every year become part of its charm? Most notable: the ball sticking to players’ helmets.
Is that funny? Yes. Is it also kinda frustrating since this seems to happen pretty much every season? Also yes. Some other glitches I spotted: my receiver celebrating a touchdown then suddenly disappearing, my Cincinnati Bengals quarterback deciding to wear a Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey during training.