Madden NFL 20 and Its Standard Appearance Are Embellished by Superstar X-Factor Players

Madden NFL 20 and Its Standard Appearance Are Embellished by Superstar X-Factor Players

While Madden NFL 20 feels quite similar to Madden NFL 19 on the surface, Superstar and X-Factor players and abilities spice things up.

When I first heard about Madden NFL 20 this year, I was excited and happy to hear about the complete revamp that the series’ Franchise mode was getting. It is one of my favorite modes but had been largely ignored for a while in the past couple Madden games. While I unfortunately was not able to try out the new franchise mode at EA Play 2019, I did get my hands on Madden NFL 20 and played a game that highlighted the few new, pure gameplay improvements like the addition of Superstars.

For the most part, Madden NFL 20 seems to be quite iterative from a gameplay and presentation standpoint. Fortunately, I did find Superstars, the X-Factor players (and abilities that come with them), and Run-Pass Option plays to be welcome enhancements for those that do choose to pay attention to them.

As soon as I had the chance to play, I choose the Bears and was facing off against someone playing as the Buffalo Bills. Thankfully, my favorite football team went through a bit of a renaissance last season, mostly thanks to our great defense spearheaded by Khalil Mack. This means Khalil Mack is designated as a Superstar X-Factor player, granting him access to some unique abilities. Superstar X-Factor abilities are meant to make truly great players, like your Tom Brady or Khalil Mack, stand out from other players in the same position outside of ratings.

While I could have ignored this in my match and chose to play as I did in Madden NFL 19, whenever I played defense I did try and use Khalil Mack whenever possible. Even though the difference was minor, I did feel the impact of having a Superstar player on my defense and was able to achieve his Zone ability. Once this was activated, I was able to easily use Mack to tear through the offensive line like he does in actual games. I even secured my victory with a game-winning 10-yard sack that I probably would not have been able to achieve otherwise.

The Bears’ defense does feel reinvigorated in Madden NFL 20, which is welcome as it more accurately reflects what is going on within the NFL. Without Superstar players, the Bears’ offense and Buffalo Bills seemed pretty standard in what played; Madden NFL 20 felt largely the same as Madden NFL 19 when Superstar players and abilities didn’t come into play. One notable addition is allowing players to cancel throws with the quarterback, though its inclusion forced me to get out of the habit of double tapping the button of the player I am throwing to, as that is also how you cancel.

Choosing plays functions as usual, though there are a few more options this year. More playbooks have been added to teams that have unique playstyles and the sorely missing run-pass option plays have finally been added. The playbooks will also evolve over time as new plays emerge over the course of the series and will bring Madden NFL 20‘s playbooks closer to the real game. While these small additions probably will go unnoticed by many causal players, the added variety in plays is appreciated, especially when core gameplay does not feel too different.


From a presentation standpoint, the demo of Madden NFL 20 I played was crisp and free of the bugs that plagued last year’s game early on, backing up the creative director’s comments from earlier this year. Visuals have been slightly improved but it isn’t a super noticeable jump from Madden NFL 19; some of the animations still looked a bit stiff as well, so I wouldn’t expect huge improvements there this year. While franchise mode is getting a gigantic makeover and Superstars and X-Factor player abilities will spice things up, this does seem like an otherwise incremental year for the series that will just bring some weaker aspects of the Madden NFL series up to par.

Madden NFL 20 is coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 2, 2019. A Closed Beta will be happening between June 14 and June 16 and Superstar Edition — which includes 12 Gold Team Fantasy packs, 1 Elite Player, one training quick sell pack for MUT, and a free Legends Superstar ability for one’s Face of the Franchise: QB1 created player — is available for pre-order as well.