Madden 20s career mode starts strong but ultimately disappoints
Last year, we welcomed Madden's long-awaited return to the PC with Madden 19. It was a pretty good game! Madden has been climbing in quality for a couple of years now, so much so that we're almost willing to forgive it for grinding E3 press conferences to a halt every year.
Madden 20 also released on PC, and I've been messing around with the game over the weekend. Here are my impressions of the new features, if you decide to get in on some good old-fashioned Windows gridiron action yourself.
The career mode could be much better
QB1: Face of the Franchise is the major addition to Madden 20. Over the past couple of years, the games have leaned heavier into some honest-to-goodness storytelling. QB1 isn't a direct follow-up to the Longshot chapters we saw in the last two games, improving on them in some ways with a new rise to fame.
Essentially, you create a quarterback and commit to one of 10 major Universities in the NCAA system. After riding the pine for a bit, your character is forced to step up big in the College Football Playoff, where your performance dictates your draft stock.
From there, you'll experience the ups and downs of an NFL career. Your player will run drills at the Combine, you'll fight to make the 53-man roster in the preseason, and hopefully, you'll win Super Bowls and make the Hall of Fame.
Superstar X-Factors are a lot of fun
Professional football teams can build an entire gameplan around one singular talent, and Madden 20 sets out to emphasize that reality as much as possible with the introduction of Superstar X-Factors.
50 players are each outfitted with a specific, highly specialized ability that sets them apart from everyone else on the squad. So, that means if you're playing as Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, you'll have access to the Unstoppable Force X-Factor, allowing you to carve up defensive lines like Swiss cheese. It's an effort to give the true stars of the game a distinguishing element beyond a rote raw numbers advantage, which is a smart change as far as I'm concerned.
Some of the X-Factors need to be activated by meeting certain requirements. So for my custom quarterback, after I complete a few passes in a row, I turn on my "Pro Reads" ability which highlights the first receiver that becomes open while I'm standing in the pocket. That's a cool idea! It adds a metatextual minigame to the football, and I'm having a good time taking advantage of each of the loadouts.