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Top five gameplay additions for the new and improved “Madden 2020”

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

As we get closer to the release of “Madden 2020” on August 2, more and more information is coming out about the changes the game will be making for this new installation.

To be quite honest, “Madden” has become boring during the last several years. With no competition from any other game manufacturer (thanks to exclusivity rights to the NFL that EA Sports has acquired), “Madden” is only competing against itself and will throw some cursory upgrades here and there each year. Most of these upgrades are minor, but some of the major upgrades have been big flops (remember the passing cone?!?).

I will still buy “Madden 2020,” but I haven’t played it as much as I did just a few years ago because the graphics aren’t that much better and the whole game feels stale – even Madden Ultimate Team. It’s embarrassing how much I used to spend on packs of cards for MUT and in “Madden 2019,” I didn’t spend a single dime to upgrade my team.

Here is how I rank the top five gameplay additions for “Madden 2020:”

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5.Player movement

The players in “Madden” don’t move like real players do. They use motion capture technology to get it as close as possible, but it still seems a little off – especially when running the football. This change would be higher if they ever got the movement of a running back true to form. Instead, this change will mostly do away with stiff inside linebackers making crazy twists and turns in the air to intercept passes across the middle.

It was always frustrating when some scrub inside linebacker would pick off your pass, especially because there was no way in hades that guy would do it in a real football game. These player movement changes mean that only cornerbacks are going to be able to make those type of contortions to disrupt incoming passes. Receivers are also getting some new animations which is fine, but I still want backs addressed.

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4. RPOs and trick plays

The playbooks in “Madden” seemed to have gotten stale over the past few years, especially because the game was always behind… well… the game when it came to modern wrinkles NFL offenses were using on Sundays. One trend that “Madden” is finally catching up to is the usage of run/pass option plays, also known as RPOs.

“Madden 2020” will have RPOs in various playbooks. In addition to RPOs and jet sweep passes like the Rams utilized to get to the Super Bowl, the playbooks this year in “Madden” will be more team specific. Sorry, if you’re a Broncos fan because RPOs and jet sweep passes won’t be a thing for you, but for the rest of the gamers out there you will be able to play with your team with a more true reflection of they execute on the field in the regular season. Yes, Eagles fans, that means your precious Philly Special will be coming to a console near you in early August!

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3.Superstar X-factors

This could be fantastic or it could be a disaster. There will be 50 players with unique ability and skill that make them difficult to stop. These special skills will be reserved for only the best in the game, and I get what they’re doing but the implementation of this seems a bit forced.

I’m mainly worried about this upgrade because these top players will be able to get into what is being called “the zone” if they reach certain objectives in a game. Once in the zone, a player will be enhanced to the point of dominance until an opponent knocks said player out of it. This sounds like being “on fire” in “NBA Jam” back in the day on Sega Genesis. That’s awesome, for an arcade game. If I’m simulating an NFL regular season or in franchise mode, I won’t feel the same way. I play “Madden” for the realism and the difficulty, not so I can have one player who is unstoppable.

If I wanted Bo Jackson ripping off 99-yard runs, I would fire up my “Tecmo Bowl” emulator on my PC.

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2.Passing trajectory

I think this can really help the more nuanced gamer. There’s nothing like playing against a button masher who doesn’t know that you can zip a pass in or loft it up with more air under it. I like how it takes timing and an understanding of coverages to truly master the passing game in “Madden.”

“Madden 2020” has addressed this issue by adding more air under all passes. That means you can throw into zone coverages with greater effectiveness. It also means that players have to be more careful when trying to fit a pass into double coverage.

The greatest… and I mean GREATEST… thing this upgrade takes away is the quarterback who will drop back 25 yards running around like a lost puppy only to heave a pass to the heavens that lands 60 yards away to an open receiver. I hate when playing “Madden” online, you’ll sometimes go up against “drop-back-way-too-far guy” and he gets lucky with these pass plays that would never fly even in the bluest of blue moons in the NFL.

Thank you EA Sports for ridding us of the scourge of the “Madden” online community.

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1.Rankings tweaks

I like that they’ve changed things in terms of how important those ranking numbers are. This is the most major and impactful upgrade to the game in my opinion. For years, players in the 90s were roughly all the same, while players rated in the 80s were all nearly the same and players in the 70s and so on.

Now, there’s going to be a marked and noticeable difference between a guy rated at 92 and a guy rated at 90. I love that. As someone who works hard to build a great MUT team (my PayPal account loves that I don’t buy hundreds of dollars worth of packs), I want the ratings to be as accurate and impactful as possible. It takes time to get that guard that is rated at 87 up to an 89, and I want to see the difference that time and work gives you.

This really impacts franchise mode – my second-favorite mode on “Madden” (can you tell I love MUT?). Quarterbacks take time to develop, and with this new ratings system that will be reflected – for all positions but reports indicate quarterbacks will be the most changed. I love putting time into a franchise mode. It’s a weird sort of accomplishment that of course is a non-accomplishment. It’s not like you’re going to put results from your franchise Madden team on your resume – but this is a big draw for “Madden” fans.

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Summary

So what do you think? Has “Madden” become so stale that you are no longer interested in the franchise? Are you a diehard Madden fan who loves these upgrades? Watch this great video from Sports Gamers Online and let me know what you think on social networking!