The time is nigh. Madden NFL 20 is set to arrive Friday, and we are going to recap the last bits of information you need to know before picking up the sticks and running run-pass options to your heart's delight.
First, Madden 20 is supposedly hitting the franchise's player ratings system from a new angle. That angle? Game-changing superstars should change the game.
The game is going to feature special Superstar and Superstar X-Factor Zone abilities for the NFL's most dominant players. At launch, there will be just 50 Superstar X-Factors in the game. Superstar abilities operate like NBA 2K badges, conferring certain increased likelihoods of success. Superstar X-Factor abilities are more impactful and require getting in a "zone" that the defense can later knock a player out of.
For example, "Pocket Deadeye" is a Superstar ability that gives a quarterback perfect accuracy when passing with feet set in the pocket. "Bazooka," on the other hand, is a Patrick Mahomes-specific X-Factor Zone ability that increases his maximum pass distance, is activated by completing a number of 30-plus yard passes and can only be nullified by a sack or interception.
Much like their emphasis on weekly updates, EA's developers have committed to patching and adjusting Superstars and Superstar X-Factors throughout the season.
To further amplify the impact of star players, Madden 20 is stretching player ratings across the league to distinguish high ratings. Only four players are rated 99 in Madden 20: Khalil Mack, DeAndre Hopkins, Bobby Wagner and Aaron Donald. That's down from seven players with the coveted figure in Madden 19. Getting ranked in the upper echelon is a mightier test this season, as is getting ranked in the serviceable tier.
While 228 players were above 85 overall in Madden 19, only 188 are in Madden 20. There are still 1,177 players rated at or above the suitable 70 overall benchmark—but that's a steep drop-off from Madden 19's 1,590.
With 413 less players rated above 70 this season, Madden 20 is going to put your ability to capitalize on roster talent on a pedestal.
Of the players ranked below 80, quarterbacks such as Matt Stafford (79) and Lamar Jackson (76) need to prove their value. And flashy, rising players like Kenyan Drake (79), Calvin Ridley (79) and Haason Reddick (74) are no exception to EA's tough critics.
Most surprisingly, though, Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown was hit with a 78 overall rating—despite dominating all 16 games for the New England Patriots this season, winning a Super Bowl and then becoming the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
Player ratings are no joke in Madden 20 and some of the most talented players have had their ratings grounded to emphasize the rise of others. But those others are going to be game-changers and you should enjoy them while you can. All those ratings and Superstars are subject to change once the scoreboards start filling up in September.