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Madden NFL 20 Gameplay Impressions

Madden NFL 20

Madden NFL 20 Gameplay Impressions

Let’s start from the beginning, which in this case is the kickoff from the receiving team’s point of view. Right away, I love how the returner catches the football. It’s much more realistic looking than in the past. I immediately noticed that the player movement is better than ’19. What was dubbed RPM last year in Madden 19 seems to be gone since they didn’t decide to call it RPM 2.0 or anything similar. This is a very good thing to me. Last year, they attempted to make the feel of player movement more realistic, but I found it to be clunky and more cumbersome than Madden 18.

To put it another way, this year feels like a good mix of Madden 18 and Madden 19. Players seem to be more grounded and their movements seem more physics-based than before — dare I say more like Madden player movement in the PS2/Xbox era. It’s not quite there yet, but we are getting close. It also seems like everyone on the field moves faster. This is good. Football is a fast game, and I feel like EA is starting to nail that. Ball carrier special moves are easier to pull off and are more realistic looking. Feathering the stick will slightly steer you in the direction you want to go without a janky movement. This means that it’s easier to slip through and by defenders. This is especially appreciated in the running game.

And speaking of the running game, it just feels good. It’s not perfect. Linemen still miss blocks they should make, but it seems more ratings-based. But the best part is that running backs can move into holes and still push forward for an extra yard or two. They even sometimes fall forward. One of the worst things about being a ball carrier in previous versions of Madden was the dreaded stand-up tackle that just knocks you back a few yards. It still exists, but that animation plays out much less in this year’s version of the game. You are more likely to be tackled to the side the defensive players hit you on than to be driven straight back. This is a welcome change that was sorely needed. It’s also a little easier to break a big run this year. Blocking has definitely improved, and if you follow the play design and your blockers, you have a much better chance and gaining some big yards. Overall, running is just better this year.

However, the area where Madden 20 may have improved the most is the passing game. This is in large part due to the new ball trajectories. Medium passes seem to now realistically float out of the reach of “super” linebackers. Now this isn’t to say linebackers can’t deflect passes, because they absolutely can, you just have to be careful not to sling a bullet pass right at them. Passing accuracy seems to be a little too uniform across the board with high-rated quarterbacks down to lower-rated QBs. It’s not like it’s jarring, but it may need a tweak with a patch. But as far as floating those medium lob passes over the defense, that feels good and that’s something that’s been missing for a long time.

But with the good comes the bad. It feels too easy to hit on outs and corner routes. I should also mention this is without slider adjustments as I am always of the belief the game should play the most realistically on default All-Pro difficulty — that’s just my opinion. The CPU also needs some tuning as it relates to zone defense because it’s probably still a little too easy to pick on the AI when they drop back into a zone. Deep routes and streaks seem to be more realistic. However, there are times with one-on-one man coverage plays where even an average receiver can beat a good corner deep. Again, this isn’t every play, and it happens in real life so it’s not like it should not exist, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Even with the negatives in the passing game, the improvements are welcomed and sorely needed. Overall, it’s much better.

Another important aspect of the passing game this year are RPOs. Run/pass options are becoming very popular in the NFL, and EA deserves credit for getting them into the game this year. There is a learning curve, however. You only have about a second or two to decide on whether you want to throw or run. And if you wait too long to throw, there is a good chance you will end up getting an illegal man downfield penalty, which is also a nice and realistic addition to the game.

Defense this year is more fun to play due to the addition of Superstar X-Factors. I feel like the most effective X-Factors are the edge rushers. Being able to collapse the pocket and force the quarterback to move in some way really helps with realism because then the quarterback doesn’t have all day to throw and wait for an open receiver to be 20 yards away from a defender. Even if you aren’t getting sacks, you are still affecting the outcome of the game. By collapsing the pocket or chasing down the quarterback, you force him to make a bad throw or bad decision in general. The problems with the CPU and zone defense still apply when the user is playing defense. I found man-to-man defense to be a little better. Either way, I will say it’s a tough job finding balance with pass coverage. I’m not giving EA a pass at all because this needs to be tightened up, but it always seems like if they do tweak pass coverages then it will swing the other way and be too tight. In short, let’s hope they can strike a balance.

And finally, special teams. I honestly don’t think they changed much with this facet of the game (besides the aforementioned catching animations). Kick and punt return blocking are still very hit or miss (it’s usually miss). However, they may have tuned the ability to block kicks and punts this year as I have blocked multiple kicks already. This is cool, but I don’t want to see too much of it. I don’t want to see a kick get blocked every game. I would think every 2-4 games would be the most realistic.

So tell us how you feel about the gameplay so far. And stay tuned as we continue to roll out our Madden 20 coverage in the coming days and weeks. 

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  1. In a lot of ways, this year’s game reminds me of NCAA Football 14. It’s fun, colorful, and very offensively slanted.
    NCAA 14 introduced the series to the read option, and Madden 20 introduced the Run-Pass-Option. Each title prioritizes responsiveness when it comes to player control, which provides less frustration when controlling the ball carrier. Both are vibrant games that, for their respective generation, look great. Madden’s commentating team also reminds me more of a college broadcast style than anything I would actually hear on Sunday. Heck, even the new score board banner reminds me of the UI from NCAA with the paint effect.
    It’s a very FUN game to play; however, the offensive slant in Madden 20 is more suited to college football. NFL teams are becoming more offensive than ever, but it’s still a game that is much less explosive. The CPU defense in Madden though is absolutely overwhelmed by the options that are available to the offensive side - it’s not particularly hard to average 12+ yards/play on offense even while attempting to be fair. While it helps that pass rush is tuned this year to be more effective, it can’t compensate for the lack of reliable defensive options and the apparent bugs that were introduced in pass coverage this year.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    So the reviewer hasn't experienced the quirks being talked about online and on YouTube?  Suction blocks, bad awareness by blockers and tacklers, bad late game AI from CPU? 
    Well every year we go through this where the default rosters ratings are skewed in multiple areas, mainly towards the offensive side.
    The three main positions this year are TE, WR and DB’s.
    With the new Stretched Scale, 70’s OVR is an indicator of “Quality Starter” level and default roster has TE/WR positional ratings exaggerated on the high end, especially the SRR and CIT rating.
    Most generated TE’s come in around 60’s range (Backup Tier) with positional stats in the 50-60’s range.
    Also their SPD is increased as well with most SPD/ACC in the high 80’s.
    WR tend to follow the same pattern but with greater positional rating increases across the board.
    Now when you compare these positions offensive stats to the DB’s, you’ll notice that a lot of the the coverage stats are dumbed down with AWR/PRC increased to inflate the OVR’s.
    High 60’s to mid 70’s is the generated positional ratings levels (of course given room for improvements) but the default roster is so out of balance compared to what CFM gameplay provides when all players have been cycled out of the league leaving the generated levels.
    Often times gamers never get to experience the difference because initial gameplay experience is from the default roster along with those venturing into CFM never going that deep into the CFM beyond simming to check stats etc.
    Still a fun game though.
    The game is on a very solid foundation. I have no doubt coverage will be tuned.
    One thing I haven't seen anyone mention yet is the dramatic improvement in performance of any run play with pulling guards. Power O, Counters, HB Base, etc. all work better than I can ever remember. The full arsenal is finally viable - with backside bubble screens to boot!
    Interesting. If I would believe this review, the issue with zone coverages are very minuscule and barely worth mentioning... not really a big deal. 
    Since I've had the experience in playing this game for 10 hours, my eyes tell me an entirely different story. 
    kennylc321
    Interesting. If I would believe this review, the issue with zone coverages are very minuscule and barely worth mentioning... not really a big deal.*
    Since I've had the experience in playing this game for 10 hours, my eyes tell me an entirely different story.*

    Definitely not saying they aren't there. They are. Only so much stuff you can fit in an article with a certain amount of words. I believe the last piece also talked about if I'm not mistaken.
    It will also be talked about again in the full review.
    stinkubus
    The game is on a very solid foundation. I have no doubt coverage will be tuned.
    One thing I haven't seen anyone mention yet is the dramatic improvement in performance of any run play with pulling guards. Power O, Counters, HB Base, etc. all work better than I can ever remember. The full arsenal is finally viable - with backside bubble screens to boot!

    Yes, with the exception of the backside defensive ends still blowing up runs it is improved.
    How do you get WRs to try and stay inbounds on catches?
    I've hit receivers on outs or crossings and it won't be a catch because the receiver won't even try to get his feet down (just runs out at the sideline as catching).
    Feel this should be automatic as all these guys know how to try and stay in bounds for a catch at least by college.
    GameBreaker35
    In a lot of ways, this year’s game reminds me of NCAA Football 14. It’s fun, colorful, and very offensively slanted.
    NCAA 14 introduced the series to the read option, and Madden 20 introduced the Run-Pass-Option. Each title prioritizes responsiveness when it comes to player control, which provides less frustration when controlling the ball carrier. Both are vibrant games that, for their respective generation, look great. Madden’s commentating team also reminds me more of a college broadcast style than anything I would actually hear on Sunday. Heck, even the new score board banner reminds me of the UI from NCAA with the paint effect.
    It’s a very FUN game to play; however, the offensive slant in Madden 20 is more suited to college football. NFL teams are becoming more offensive than ever, but it’s still a game that is much less explosive. The CPU defense in Madden though is absolutely overwhelmed by the options that are available to the offensive side - it’s not particularly hard to average 12+ yards/play on offense even while attempting to be fair. While it helps that pass rush is tuned this year to be more effective, it can’t compensate for the lack of reliable defensive options and the apparent bugs that were introduced in pass coverage this year.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    I’m pretty sure ncaa 14 didn’t introduce us to the read options.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    SeaTownGamer
    I’m pretty sure ncaa 14 didn’t introduce us to the read options.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    I looked it up after you replied, and you’re correct. It appears that it was introduced in Madden 12, and was added to NCAA 13 the following year.
    My mistake. I’m getting older and senile I guess.
    spoofrice11
    How do you get WRs to try and stay inbounds on catches?
    I've hit receivers on outs or crossings and it won't be a catch because the receiver won't even try to get his feet down (just runs out at the sideline as catching).
    Feel this should be automatic as all these guys know how to try and stay in bounds for a catch at least by college.
    It should be automatic with a player's ratings being the determining factor for the success rate of getting both feet inbounds. It was the same way in 19 that for some reason most of the time unless you manually user the WR and trigger the correct catch type your WR won't attempt to keep their feet in bounds. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that possession catch was the only type that will give you the correct animation.
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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