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Madden NFL 20 Review: A return to form for the franchise

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As we edge closer and closer to the start of the real NFL season, EA Sports has satiated the appetite of many a football fan by releasing the latest edition of one of their flagship sports titles – ‘Madden NFL 20’.

Madden has been accused to falling short and failing to make any real progress since the jump to ‘next gen.’ However, with the introduction of new game play tools such as X-Factor abilities and RPO’s, as well as the throwing out of lacklustre modes, Madden 20 looks to be return to form for the franchise.

Let us take a look at what the pinnacle of virtual football has to offer. Without further ado, here is Franchise Sports review for Madden NFL 20.

Bringing the ‘X-Factor’

As ‘Madden’ is an annual instalment, EA Sports work hard to offer new and fresh features for the consumer for the latest title every year. Whether it’s the introduction of the teeth-rattling ‘hit-stick’ feature in Madden 15 or the much less thrilling ‘Journey Mode’ introduced in Madden 18, a rather lacklustre cinematic campaign which was far from a fan favourite.

This year, EA Sports have introduced ‘X-Factor Abilities’. These special abilities are limited to the virtual counterparts of the NFL elite and can only be activated once a certain set of requirements are met in game.


For example, once a certain set of requirements has been met, cover star Patrick Mahomes possesses the appropriately named ‘Bazooka’ ability. This allows the freewheeling gunslinger to throw the ball 80 yards with ease. An example on the defensive side of the ball is Richard Sherman. The Niners cornerback holds the ‘Shutdown’ ability, allowing Sherman to stick like glue to the receiver and has a higher chance to intercept contested catches.

Whilst clearly enhancing the connection between the real NFL and the virtual one, this latest feature brings the fun feeling back that Madden has been lacking since Madden 16. ‘X-Factor Abilities’ bring a whole new dynamic to an old storied franchise, a feat that becomes more difficult for developers with each instalment.

Game Modes


The previously discussed X-Factor Abilities add much to the day-today matches between friends on the couch and online. Launching a rocket of a pass with Mahomes on 4th and long against your all too talkative buddy will bring a lot to the peer to peer experience.

Furthering the theme of linking the real NFL to the virtual one, EA have included ‘RPOs’ into Madden 20. RPO is an acronym for run, pass option. A tool in the real game that allows the QB to read the defence and at the last second swap the play from a run to pass. This is a welcome addition that adds realism as well as another tactic for the user to work into his offensive schemes.

Madden Ultimate Team

Madden Ultimate Team, or ‘MUT’, has become the flagship game mode of Madden in recent years. MUT is a dangerously addictive card-based game mode in which users play against the computer in ‘Solo Challenges’ or online in head to head matchups to form their ultimate team. There is no doubt that MUT will be the reason for many awkward conversations with your teacher or boss as to why you’re so exhausted on a Monday morning. Whether or not they’ll understand why you had to grind all night to add that Tom Brady or Aaron Donald to your ultimate team is a different story.


Franchise/Career Mode

Many fans have felt that Franchise Mode has often been overlooked in recent years as most of EA’s attention has gone to Ultimate Team. The recent addition of the superficial campaign mode ‘The Journey’ did not help matters and has since been removed, this year being replaced by ‘Face of the Franchise’.

‘Face of the Franchise’ attempts to emulate the success of NBA2K’s ‘My Career’. A road to glory climb to success with loose story line elements such as going to college and being drafted by a random team. You can even design your character’s facial features and assign him certain X-Factor abilities.

However, where as this is clearly an improvement on the rigid ‘Journey’, it is lacking real depth. Limited dialogue options and cut-scenes drag the mode down. The RPG aspect clearly suits the game better than the constrictive Journey, but there is still work to be done despite the emergence of a solid foundation.

To conclude, Madden 20 is certainly a step in the right direction for the franchise. The somewhat disappointing and mediocre instalments of 18 and 19 are vastly improved upon here. X-Factor abilities bring a whole new sense of dynamism to play-by-play action. Madden Ultimate Team returns better than ever, and the new ‘Face of the Franchise’ mode is definitely worth a look at.

If you’ve been holding on to that copy of Madden 14 unwilling to fork out the £50 then now is the time to do it and enjoy the best this generation of gaming has to offer on the virtual gridiron.

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