Like any annual sports game, Madden takes its fair share of criticism for being overly similar year to year. On the field this season that feels truer than usual, but that’s not to say this is a down year for the franchise. The improvements made to Madden NFL 20 feel more like the building blocks of a team seeking to get back to the playoffs. They’re not flashy, but they’re necessary to put the franchise in a position to impress for years to come.
Madden NFL 20’s most prominent feature is its new ‘X-Factor’ designation. Fifty of the NFL’s greatest players have been given X-Factor roles, which allow them to take over games in ways that feel both satisfyingly earned and realistic. Players like Julio Jones, Patrick Mahomes, and Saquon Barkley are able to unlock and unleash special abilities over the course of any match across all game modes, even in Ultimate Team. For some wideouts, that may mean having improved abilities when making possession catches. For linemen, it can mean getting faster off the snap and blowing up the opposing grunts. Once activated, these X-Factors will stay in use until certain parameters are met, like an X-Factor quarterback finally taking a sack.
This enables players to have a lot of fun replicating the Sunday takeovers that we so often see on television every week in the fall from the league’s most dangerous playmakers. Getting your superstar players in the zone early is not just exciting but surprisingly well balanced given that these skills never apply to all scenarios, instead boosting certain elements of players’ toolsets.
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