Developed by:EA Tiburon Published by:EA Genre(s):
  • Sports
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Nintendo
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE Players:1-2 (2 Online) Release date:August 2, 2019 Reviewed on:XBox One

    Madden NFL 20

    It’s that time of the year again. With the summer ending, most of us are getting ready for two things. Our kids finally going back to school and good ol’ American Football. Meaning, Madden season is upon us again.

    Is that a good thing though? After almost three decades of Madden NFL, it’s hard to see how much EA Tiburon has improved the series over the years. Changes between console generations that result in graphical and AI upgrades notwithstanding, the yearly releases often fail to offer anything new.

    Besides a new mode or tweaked gameplay mechanic, it’s all the same. This year is no different. Tiburon added new player traits/abilities (similar to what’s seen in the NBA 2K series). The base mechanics and animations are afforded some extra polish. But overall, Madden NFL 20 is more or less like the previous installment. Not a bad game by far, just a bit unnecessary.

    If you can’t tell, I’m rather critical of the series. In no small part of EA exclusive deal with the NFL; Madden is the only officially licensed football game available. There’s no competition. This is all we get, each and every year. That being the case, it would be great if we could get some meaningful improvements.

    Visually, Madden 20 looks good. The animations seemed to have improved. Most of the players look the same though, sans a change in height or body build per position on the field. The players on the bench still look fake but with huge rosters, I’m not surprised. The stadiums are nearly photorealistic – at its highest resolutions, the game could fool someone who isn’t aware that they’re watching Madden.

    It doesn’t necessarily look better than the previous installment. In that I mean, most anybody wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This isn’t a knock on the game. It just furthers this recycled feeling the accompanies the game every year. The same can be said about the moment to moment gameplay.

    Again, the game’s various mechanics have been polished. The physic-based animations have been improved and the AI seems smarter. That said, it’s the superstar traits – new special maneuvers and counters that helps in showcasing a player’s actual ability on the field – that present the most noticeable change.

    Take the cover athlete, Patrick Mahomes, for example. He is known for being able to throw the ball accurately while escaping the pocket. So, in this installment, he has a trait that is initiated the moment he begins running (while looking to pass) that gives him a higher chance to throw the ball without being bothered by incoming lineman.

    This feature works great for defensive players because it helps in balancing out this otherwise, offensive minded series. The players run better and seem to react to changes happening on the field as they happen, faster than in previous games. Offensive, defensive – there are times when the traits end up disrupting the simulation. There are times when they allow for a play that wouldn’t normally happen in real life. At least…not as often as they happen in the game.

    The traits system should be well received regardless. As I mentioned before, it presents the most impactful change. Beyond that is the same old Madden. That includes a ton of glitches. Like players getting grabbed only to start flipping in mid-air, before landing on somebody yards away for a touchdown. The game isn’t broken of course. But these types of things happen enough to warrant a mention.

    There’s also the Face of the Franchise mode. It isn’t nearly as good as in previous years. For one, it makes you play as a quarterback. Before, I could make a player, pick a position, and then play out his career. I’d play multiple seasons, building my player up until it came time for them to retire – usually when the next Madden was about to drop. That’s not the case here. The reason being the mode’s lackluster story.

    The mode focuses on a promising quarterback. He’ll go through the motions. The typical deals and drama. None of it is as compelling as EA hoped it would be. Considering that QB is my least favorite position to play, the dull story and stringent options made Face the Franchise a chore to play through.

    That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy playing Madden 20 at all. The franchise’s foundation, at this point, is solid. Putting rival teams against one another is still a ton of fun. And the new superstar traits, while disruptive, help in freshening things up. I even liked this year’s commentary. Hearing a break down of a play seems natural when accurate. The breaking of the fourth wall – making fun of the player whenever they skip the halftime show – is great.

    It’s just that, none of these things makes me feel like Madden NFL 20 should exist. Unless Tiburon created a new game engine – one that would need several takes before delivering real change – there isn’t anything here that couldn’t have been added as an expansion. Certainly not a new $60 title.

    As someone who either purchases or receives a review copy of Madden every year, I’m always excited for what’s to come. Not so much on the plausibility of getting a radically “new” football game, but on the possibility of getting one. Madden NFL 20 is a good game. A holiday purchase for those of us who missed it in August. It just isn’t needed. Not in a time where games as a service is a thing and DLC/expansions exist. Updated rosters, new gimmicks – these things can be added (seemingly) without much effort.



    New player traits and a sprinkling of updates aren’t enough to make Madden NFL 20 a must buy sports game. It is good enough to warrant a purchase for anyone who skipped last year’s installment.



    The game looks good. Even great at times.



    The sound effects and commentary are good.

    Replay Value:


    It depends how much you love Madden. Most die-hard fans will keep playing until Madden NFL 21 is released.

    Final Score:


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