Madden NFL 20 has an Aug. 2 launch date, which is early and should serve as a good way for football fans to get their fix well before the regular season begins in September.
And it wouldn't be another Madden release from EA Sports without a central talking point. Over the past few years, Longshot has been the most notable of all. The bold story-based mode featuring memorable characters like Devin Wade and Colt Cruise was a fun new direction for the franchisee and spoke to the efforts the series continues to make in providing something for every sort of football fan.
But the feedback from fans made one point rather clear: The next step is letting each player get themself in the game so they can experience their own journey.
As highly produced and smartly put together as Longshot and Longshot: Homecoming were, players were stuck with the tales of fictional characters. And once those stories were complete, taking the fictional characters to the NFL wasn't the most seamless process.
The next release in the series promises to tackle this problem head on with Face of the Franchise: QB1 Career Campaign.
We'll dub it QB1 Mode for short, though it doesn't seem like there is anything short about it.
For starters, it is exactly what it sounds like; players will be free to create themselves in the game and then loop through key points in the run-up to a draft, such as the combine. Once the draft is complete, players will have to battle for a starting gig and keep the spot on the depth chart throughout the years via strong performance, going through the contractual and possible team-changing possibilities all NFL players face.
A handy graph helps illustrate the depth here:
But it gets better. In the past, plopping a created player into any mode felt a little lifeless because there wasn't anything specific tied to the experience other than the name on the back of the jersey. EA Sports aims to change that with QB1 Mode thanks to the implementation of scenarios, according to EA.com:
"As you live your superstar story, Madden's new Scenario Engine generates personalized playable scenarios, events, and dynamic challenges that tell the tale of a unique NFL career. Adding to it, in Face of the Franchise: QB1, like in Franchise mode, you choose your Archetype: Strong Arm, Scrambler, Improviser, Field General. Superstar abilities are tied to the Archetype you pick. Levelling up your archetypes unlocks different abilities."
On one hand, it's nice that QB1 Mode won't take away some of the trials and tribulations players face while trying to enter the league that Longshot illustrated so well.
On the other, QB1 Mode feels like a natural progression for the franchise. The fact that a scenario creator can add depth to the experience and RPG-esque features like archetypes are also woven into the experience is a nice way to tie everything together.
Bringing up RPGs is fitting too given a statement from creative director Mike Young to Game Informer's Matt Bertz: "It's not about getting to 99 [OVR] anymore, it's about trying different loadouts. It's a lot more like an action/adventure game where you're unlocking different abilities, and maybe this one suits the way you play more and it's what you like."
Those who don't want to play as a passer can choose other positions, though it doesn't sound like the experience will have as much depth.
And for those players who don't have any interest at all in this sort of experience, Madden NFL 20 still goes deep in other areas, including gameplay tuning, new roles for superstars via a new X-Factors system and the usual upgrades to Ultimate Team.
Over the past few years, Madden has done a quality job of reaching as many different types of players as possible. QB1 Mode looks promising and will champion the pre-release hype, but it is just one feature of a product once again versatile enough to represent the biggest sporting league in the U.S. for a full calendar year.