It would be really easy to point you in the direction of last year’s Madden review and say “Pretty much the same thing” or “Well, it’s Madden”. Two problems. First, we didn’t do a Madden review last year here at Seasoned Gaming and second, just enough has changed to give this iteration a fresh coat of paint. But is it only skin deep?
Let’s get the the old stuff out of the way. Gameplay wise, everything from last year (and previous years) is back. You can see minor improvements in this department but nothing radical enough to create a whole new experience. The game usually does a good job mechanically. The one thing that stands out, and I’ve seen this for years, are teleporting defensive players. I was picked off so many times by “ice skating” defensive backs that I wanted to throw my controller. It seems like an easy fix but sadly it just turns out to be frustrating in the end.
One of the significant new features are Superstar X-Factors. Fifty of the players on various teams have been gifted with unique abilities. Let’s take cover boy Patrick Mahomes for example. If you complete two 30 yard passes you unlock his Zone Ability, “Bazooka”. While you maintain this ability, you’re able to throw the ball deeper. Getting sacked or throwing an interception will knock you out of the zone. It works surprisingly well. Additionally, several players have Superstar Abilities. In the case of Mahomes, you get “Escape Artist”. This grants you increased speed when scrambling. He also has a few more, all of which are always active. This separates these players from their peers in different and fun ways. It’s actually my favorite part of Madden 20.
Ultimate Team returns this year as well. I’ve never been a fan of it, but there’s no denying that it’s very popular. I’m more of a simulation guy but I can see the appeal of building your own team from NFL superstars. They’ve added missions which basically paint a path to the rewards you’re looking for. If you’re new to the franchise, expect a rather large learning curve but veteran players should be able to pick it up fairly quickly if it’s something that interests them.
Face of the Franchise is a new way to play the game as well. It’s kind of a story mode that is mixed in with a franchise mode. You only play as a quarterback as you start off in the final year of your college career. You get to take the reigns as the starter and try to win a national championship. During this time you play through cut scenes, having conversations with various people. Most answers you give will give you a bonus to a particular stat and influence what kind of player you want to be. You take part in the draft and, depending on how you played, get drafted. Then your NFL career begins. Different scenarios are thrown in here and there. For the most part it plays like a very shallow RPG mixed with football. If they were to expand on this in the coming years, I think it could be outstanding. As it stands in this iteration, there are too many limitations to the mode. Different positions would be nice, as well as a more in-depth story.
When it comes down to it, if you have been picking up the game for years, you probably won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, it depends on what you’re looking for. Madden 20 is a great place to jump back in if you’ve been away for years and have that itch. If you’re just a casual player and own Madden 19, you might hold off until next year or wait until it inevitably comes to EA Access next year. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did it blow me away? Not really. What I can say is that provides enough different ways to play that it remains a great game. No if you’ll excuse me, I have a Super Bowl to win.