Madden 20 Review: Touchdown or Incompletion?
Madden 20 is a fun experience for any NFL fan. EA did a pretty good job with it this year, but the game isn't without its faults.
The new Madden 20 is out now and I wanted to dive into the game and explore the mechanics and different game modes.
Now that I have 106 hours in, I feel like I can give everyone a really good idea of how this year’s game shakes out.
Time to buckle those chinstraps, lace the cleats, and hit the field. Here we go!
Upon launching the game, you’ll be thrown into a scenario where you will be up against the CPU. It’s basically a tutorial and opportunity for players to learn the controls.
In previous years, it would be the Super Bowl, however this year, it’s the Pro Bowl.
New for Madden 20 is Superstar X-factors, abilities that make star players feel and play like their real life counterparts. I thought these were done really well. For a star’s X-factor ability to be activated, the player must hit a small goal offensively or defensively.
For example, Odell Beckham Jr. has to make three 20 yard catches to be considered “in the zone” where his ability activates. While the X-factor ability is active, the star player plays like a beast. I found this to be really fun.
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The X-factor abilities function like passive boosts, so no extra button pushing is needed.
Speaking of button pushing, the controls are exactly like last year’s game. Beginner players take note: there is a learning curve for the controls if you haven’t played Madden in some time.
There are individual tutorials available for passing, rushing, defense, and kicking if you need them.
For you players who want to play this game on PC, invest in an inexpensive wired controller. The PC version of Madden 20 can be played via keyboard and mouse, but let’s be real, you will do better with a controller.
CPU linebackers were tuned down a bit this year, which is a welcome change from them playing like extra defensive backs. If you have an athletic TE or RB on a linebacker, it actually feels like a favorable matchup.
Visuals, Commentary, and Soundtrack
The game doesn’t disappoint visually, it looks as close to real football as you can get.
Commentary leaves a lot to be desired. It’s the same as last year, other than a few mentions of players signing with different teams.
Finally, the music. Rap fans will enjoy the soundtrack, people who don’t like rap will not. My advice is mute the game music and use a playlist.
Mechanics and Aesthetics – 7.5
QB1: Face of the Franchise
This game mode is what passes for a career mode in Madden 20. Right away, I didn’t care for it because the only type of character you can create is a quarterback. Geez, EA. Maybe some of us wanted to relive our glory days as a safety in high school ball.
Anyway, forced player type not withstanding, you create your QB. We’re thrust into a cutscene featuring our HS coach who tells us a big decision is coming.
Next, it cuts to us choosing our school for national signing day, and again we’re limited to a list of just a few major colleges. Once we choose our college, we see our player walking into our new college coach’s office. The coach proceeds to tell us some 5 star recruit signed at the last minute and we’re gonna be sitting behind him.
Cut to 3 years later, it’s the eve of the national title game, and mister 5 star is hurt. We’re the only hope.
We’re given control of our player in the national title game, and depending how we play, the game decides if you’re NFL draft eligible. Assuming we won the national title, next up is the combine, and then we throw for scouts.
Next, we meet a smarmy agent at the combine, he takes us on, and we’re off to the draft. Once our QB is drafted, we’re basically playing the same way as if we were playing franchise mode controlling a player. It’s really no different than franchise at this point.
You can play or sim your career up until you retire, and that’s the end. Hey, maybe you’ll make the Hall of Fame. Bottom line, this game mode is far from hall of fame status. It’s benchwarmer status. A few cool cutscenes, but lackluster story and limited character options make this a snoozer.
QB1: Face of the Franchise – 4.5
As bad as the QB1 mode is, Franchise Mode itself rocks.
You have the option to choose as many teams as you like, and you can be the owner, head coach, or a player of your choice for said team. You can control all the settings of your league, and even edit draft classes. If you set it up as a cloud league, you can even invite other players to it.
Franchise is relatively unchanged from last year, and that’s a good thing. Madden has done well with franchise mode in recent years, and simulation players will enjoy it. It’s immersive and fun.
Remember, if you use the manage rosters feature in the main menu of the game, you can download official or player created rosters and draft classes. Those rosters and draft classes can be used in your franchise mode, which makes it extra fun.
Franchise mode – 8
Head to Head (H2H)
This mode is pretty self – explanatory. Play against the CPU in an exhibition game, or if you’re feeling ready to take on other players, search for a match.
Exhibition will get you used to the controls and let you try out different playbooks. If you’re a new Madden player, put hours in this mode and in practice mode and refine your skills.
You will be quite happy once you master the nuances of the game, like reading coverages, and user controlling a linebacker or safety.
H2H mode – 8
Madden Ultimate Team (MUT)
Finally we get to the most played mode in Madden.
From streamers to tournament players, Madden Ultimate Team or MUT for short, has become a phenomenon. The way MUT works is like if Hearthstone and Madden had a money driven baby.
When you enter Madden Ultimate Team for the first time, you’ll be given a starter team, which are virtual football cards of NFL players. These represent the players in your lineup.
The goal of MUT is to raise your overall team rating by doing challenges against the CPU or purchasing better cards from the in-game store.
There is a also an in-game auction house where you can buy or sell cards for virtual currency known as coins. Coins are awarded via CPU challenges or online play.
If you’re new to MUT, it can seem really daunting, especially if you try to play an online MUT match and you get matched with a player who has a God squad.
Do not get discouraged. Patience is rewarded in MUT if you save your coins, do the solo challenges against the CPU, and grind. If you are a no money spent player like myself, the grind is your friend. That said, if you have disposable income, you can make a killer MUT team very fast.
MUT is very money driven, have no doubt about that. It can be incredibly fun, or incredibly frustrating. Think it over carefully before jumping into MUT, because it’s not for everybody.
The main drawback to MUT is that the menus and user interface for it are confusing. It’s hard to keep track of which challenges are which, as well as your progress. For this reason, it really knocks MUT down a grade this year.
Madden Ultimate Team – 7.5
Madden 20 is a fun experience for any NFL fan. EA did a pretty good job with it this year, but the game isn’t without its faults. Despite its issues, there’s still more pros than cons, and I believe this is the best Madden release in a while. If future Madden games stick with this blueprint, add a proper career mode, and make MUT a little less money dependent, they’ll have a winner.