By now, most of us have seen the latest Madden 20 news from EA Play. And although there wasn’t any groundbreaking new features or details announced, it did give us a better look at some of this year’s newest additions. One of those features stood out above the rest as both polarizing and intriguing: Superstar X-Factors and Zone Abilities.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from yesterday’s event, and how it could make or break Madden 20.
What We Know About Superstar X-Factors
For those who don’t know, Superstar X-Factors are special abilities superstars can unlock if they hit a variety of different milestones and in-game achievements. Of course, not every player has these abilities, but those who do can use their player-specific perks to exploit their opposition. Furthermore, it separates players and allows them to play accurately to their real-life counterparts.
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses. And although the defense will have players who can stop or counter the offense’s X-Factors and Zones, the execution of this is most important. And with over seven weeks to go until Madden’s release, the real question Is how will it all play when the game is finally released.
Here is the good and the bad of Madden’s newest feature, Superstar X-Factors.
What I Like About Superstar X-Factors
For years, the argument could be made that players with elite talent never really felt different than the rest of the crowd in EA’s popular NFL franchise. This should change in Madden 20. This year, when playing with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, it will actually feel like you’re using those players. The top quarterbacks in the NFL will now have their signature styles and throwing motions implemented into the game. But this doesn’t just stop with the quarterback position. Over 60-plus players will have their real-life animations and skillful traits.
This will obviously bleed over into Superstar X-Factors and Zones. One of the players used at the EA Play event was Mahomes. And as we all witnessed last season, he’s a special type of player. So whether it’s throwing a ball 80 yards downfield, or he’s outrunning a defender and throwing a no-look pass perfectly on the run, this will come to fruition in this year’s game.
During the event, Madden developer Clint Oldenburg announced some of Mahomes’ traits. Here’s a look at what his X-Factors and Zone Abilities are, and how to obtain them.
Can Mahomes Be Stopped?
As you can see, Mahomes has several different X-Factors. How many each player will have, and whether or not everyone will have Zone Abilities, is to be determined. What we do know, however, is that in order to knock players out of their X-Factor, the defense will have to reach an achievement of its own.
In the video released, Aaron Donald was the defensive superstar who was showcased to stop Mahomes. As we know, Donald is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, so he is equipped with his own arsenal of Zone Abilities and X-Factors. However, you don’t need to have certain abilities to end a player’s X-Factor, you just need to be able to make a game-changing play. And in this instance, a sack is all it would take to knock Mahomes out of his “Bazooka” X-Factor.
In short, this seems like a good way to create more unique players while also giving defenses ways to counter.
What I Don’t Like About Superstar X-Factors
There are several concerns that could eventually snowball into issues as we inch closer and closer to the August 2 release. The biggest uncertainty for me is how unbalanced these X-Factors could be for teams with higher overall ratings. For instance, the Miami Dolphins are expected to be one of the worst teams in football next year. When looking over the roster, they have far less talent than some of the teams at the top of the NFL totem pole. So how will the lowly teams like Miami, Cincinnati, Washington and some of the other inferior teams look against the NFL powerhouses. Obviously, you want to see discrepancy between each and every team, but at what cost?
Now I know if you don’t want to watch Mahomes heave an 80-yard touchdown, it’s probably in your best interest to stop him. However, what if you’re just badly outmatched? Is your opponent officially unbeatable in this situation? That is what concerns me most about this new feature, and why the beta will be even more important this year than last. If the community believes these X-Factors are too overpowering, EA has a chance now to make those changes.
How EA manages to even the playing field and not make the ratings, Zone Abilities and Superstar X-Factors so overpowering is crucial. In my opinion, the X-Factors already give off an arcade feel to the game, so it will be interesting to see how the game speed (which looked good) and other aspects help keep the game more sim to its real-life counterpart. Each year, Madden moves more and more towards an open-field shootout (much like the real NFL). And while that appeals to competitive gamers, I’m not sure it does as much for those looking for more varied gameplay. So I will be watching this closely as the weeks progress.
There’s no telling how this will all pan out once Madden is released and available to the public. On paper, it seems like a step in the right direction for EA — and a welcomed addition from what we’ve become accustomed to. In theory, itt makes the game more realistic and makes each player that much more important. But what it will ultimately come down to is what the different Zone Abilities and X-Factors are and how easy they are to counter.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the Madden series, you’re probably going to love this new feature. Then again, if you’re one of the people who enjoy playing online, there’s a very good chance this new feature could cause disadvantages — forcing players to use teams with more superstars. This could make things extremely frustrating and overpowered, to say the least. This is where it will be up to EA to decide on a happy medium, which could be easier said than done. Whatever the end result, you have to give credit to EA for trying something different. After so many years of complacency, fans deserve the best of the best. There’s no telling how this will all end, but like a football shot out of Mahomes’ bazooka of an arm, we’re all just along for the ride.