Madden 20: What did we learn from E3 & EA Play – Gameplay, X-Factors, & Face Of The Franchise

Madden 20 was a center-piece for EA Sports once again at E3 & EA Play. What did they show us about the latest release?

Madden is a flagship franchise for EA, without a rival in the NFL world it has a dominant grip on the sport and thus brings in a lot of sales for EA. However, like every sports game its quality can ebb and flow. Madden 19 didn’t come in for the same level of criticism as FIFA 19 did, but it didn’t exactly set the bar when it comes to new features or revolutionary thinking. Madden 20might just do that.

EA Sports have been drip-feeding their fans information about Madden 20 and all of it has sounded good. From a new career mode to fresh gameplay aspects, and an overhaul of the player ratings, Madden 20 could well be a sea change for the franchise. What did they have to show us at the annual gaming mecca of E3?


This is going to be a massive part of Madden 20 gameplay. A certain set of players will have “superstar abilities”. These are additional buffs to parts of the game, like pressuring a quarterback or throwing on the run. An even narrower band of players will be X-Factors, and once they get “in the zone” will unlock an extra one.

This is designed to make superstar players stand out and play like they would on a Sunday in the NFL, but what it looks like it will do is create a premium class of teams that have the most X-Factor players and make it almost impossible for teams that can't matchup with them.

Patrick Mahomes is the cover star this year and has received an arsenal of superstar abilities that include perfect accuracy in the red zone and on cross-body passes as well as improvements to his scrambling ability. His "in the zone" ability pushed his max throwing distance to 80 yards. All of this makes him sound like an uber-accurate version of Michael Vick in Madden 04, and veteran players know just how frustrating and joy-killing that was.

Here you can see just how insane Mahomes has been made this year. Good luck finding anyone online that isn't playing with the Chiefs this year.


Madden has had a hard time trying to keep up with the ridiculous offensive innovation that has hit the NFL of late. Madden 20's best asset will be far more up-to-date playbooks. The addition of things like jet sweep touch passes, RPO's, and even the Philly Special will bring some more creativity to the offense.

Another excellent part of the playbooks this year will be updates in line with the real NFL. Madden will try to keep this game as realistic and up to date as possible, so when Andy Reid and Sean McVay inevitably unveil a new batch of plays this season Madden 20 will put them in and let you go to town on a defense.

Player motion has got a big improvement this year. The gameplay clips looked far smoother in transition moments. Be that running backs changing direction or especially backfield ball handling, everything looked more realistic and less clunky in Madden 20, which should help amplify the skill of the user over relying on talented players on your team.

The pump fake mechanic has seen an upgrade, when combined with the new rating spread this should mean you can pick on defenders more. However, the pass rush has seen a significant improvement which means sitting in the pocket and waiting for deep crossing patterns to open up will be harder this year. Contain responsibilities have also seen a nice improvement which should help keep some of those quarterbacks with scrambling superstar abilities in the pocket. All the while unique player animations and hyper-real modeling will make Madden 20 feel far more like the NFL than previous versions.

Madden 20 looks like it will provide a different feel to the last few versions of the game and give players a new challenge to overcome, which is a welcome breath of fresh air to the franchise.

Face Of The Franchise

This is the most exciting addition to a Madden game in years. A true career mode where you take a quarterback from college, through the draft, and to the Super Bowl.

They kept this game mode close to the vest at E3, only releasing a little teaser that shows some of the college uniforms and the moment you are drafted. The Scenario Engine will provide short-term goals to help improve your player and also provide something else to focus on other than just winning games.

This game mode won't be available in the beta, which means we may have to wait until much closer to release before we hear more about this but I for one cannot wait to try this mode out. Fingers crossed it will be much more engaging than Longshot ever was.

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Toby Durant


Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.