The early trickling-in of reviews paint Madden 20 in a great light.
As the latest offering in the NFL series from EA Sports, Madden 20 carries a big weight on its shoulders given the well-received offering last year. There are drawbacks as always, but the as-of-this writing 75 on Metacritic isn't too shabby.
Those reviews walk a nice tightrope, praising the on-field gameplay. But some of the features such as Face of the Franchise: QB1 fall short compared to prior counterparts and some beloved modes like franchise once again didn't get much in the way of attention.
But for a football-based video game, nailing down the gameplay itself is arguably the most important point of all, which the reviews stress.
Eddie Makuch, Gamespot
Part of the reason the gameplay feels so much better this year is one of Madden 20's biggest talking points: Superstar X-Factors.
Well, that and the apparent paring down of ratings across the board in an effort to make star players feel more impactful. The new x-factor feature though, grants rare abilities to 50 of the NFL's best players.
It was a noted point of a review from Eddie Makuch, Gamespot: "The new X-Factor abilities are truly game-changers, and they further emphasize the distinction between the average NFL player and elite athletes."
Makuch ended up giving the game an eight out of 10.
Those abilities are diverse and a welcome change. Certain wideouts excel in single coverage. Star pass-rushers shed blocks faster if they win at the point of attack.
As a whole, the additions in this area were a response to player feedback suggesting all the NFL stars on the field felt the same. Now...not so much.
Brian Mazique, Forbes
The gameplay improvements aren't limited to ratings tuning and a new x-factors system, though.
As always, the team at EA Sports has continued to edit the existing on-field structure to make the experience better.
One of those big areas comes in the trenches, as illustrated by Brian Mazique of Forbes, who graded the game an 8.1 out of 10:
"Strength is another area of the game where the ratings of top players separate them from the pack. Specifically, I'm noticing some really nice looking and realistic play in the trenches. Dominant defensive tackles are shedding blocks and others may be getting stonewalled. When you go back and watch the replay to determine the factors that led to success or failure, I'm often seeing the line play as the reason."
Pass-rushers, inside or outside, feel smoother than before and winning the timing at the point of the snap feels more rewarding than ever.
Another common theme comes on the offensive side of the ball, where the running game feels improved thanks to sheer physics adjustments and better A.I. that opens up holes by sticking to their assignments.
Robert Kollars, IGN
The mention of Face of the Franchise: QB1 and needed elaboration at some point.
Count IGN's Robert Kollars as one of those who liked the mode:
"The open-ended story mode campaign was a lot of fun, in part because I had an impact on my career path through dynamic decisions in each situation. From the school I chose to the type of quarterback I wanted to be to how I performed in the combine and on the field, it all had a direct effect on how the story played out."
Kollars also assigned the game an 8.1 out of 10.
Viewed in a vacuum, it's hard to dislike the QB1 mode. Players get to insert themselves into the NFL and play in the College Football Playoff with real teams before participating in the combine. Performance matters too, with players capable of getting drafted in any round or going undrafted. From there, a new scenario engine keeps things interesting on a weekly basis.
The only drawback with QB1 is in the bigger scheme coming off two years of massive production values with the Longshot game modes. Once through some of the big early cutscenes, QB1 simply becomes another franchise mode.
But as the general theme of the reviews notes, even the drawbacks like that were perhaps created from going back and addressing some of the longstanding issues players have talked about for years.