Madden NFL 20: The best tips, tricks and cheats to get started

Madden NFL 20 has dropped alongside cover athlete Patrick Mahomes and it is ready to fill your football needs. If you got the game at your disposal, then you're probably ready to start throwing some no-look passes, stiff arming some defenders or taking down quarterbacks for sacks with your favorite players.

All of that is easier said than done and we've got the right tips and tricks that will help you excel in the game. These tips will help you along your Madden journey whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran who's owned multiple copies of the famed sports game before. Here are some tips, tricks and cheats that will make Madden NFL 20 truly enjoyable.

Begin the gridiron journey

Customize your experience

The first thing you'll be prompted to do is set your preferred game settings. This constitutes three things: experience level, game style and favorite team. Two of the three are pretty self-explanatory; pick the difficulty level you are most comfortable with and your favorite team. Game style on the other hand, is a little more nuanced and depends on the way you want the game to presented in either Arcade, Simulation or Competitive mode.

Get adjusted to the game

As is the case with every year, EA meddled with the physics engine of Madden NFL 20 and thus feels different from last year's version. It's actually a step in the right direction as the game feels more realistic and less janky than before. The players actually go where you want them to go more often. It also feel more true to life. For instance, in throwing a deep pass, it now takes the quarterback a longer time to cock his arm back and launch it. In the build up process, defenses can easily grab a sack.

If you've played the game, you're going to want to get used the new style before you can truly master the game.

You can either do this by playing a couple exhibition games or you can test out your luck in the Skills Trainer. I prefer the latter as it gives you one-on-one tutorials to every aspect of the game: offense, defense, position gameplay, different in-game scenarios and more.

Keep rosters up to date

Day one rosters for Madden NFL 20 will look very different in a month. This means it'll be imperative that you keep your roster up to date as EA will roll out constant updates throughout the season to keep up with trades and player improvements as they come in hot and fast. In fact, right after we downloaded the game, there was already a roster update available. To do so, go to the Customize section, then press Manage Rosters and here you'll see the Update Rosters section.

Create your own roster experience

If you are anything like me (and countless other people), though I like the official roster, some of it is just not to my liking. To change this up, create your own roster where you can customize the players to your liking be it improving certain players, changing up their looks or just creating the Pro Bowl-like ultimate Madden team with the best of the best.

Some might consider it cheating, but who cares, as long as you have fun. And let's be honest, some of these Madden ratings are kind of crazy anyway so why not take matters into your own hands.

I myself am a big stickler for player styles so I like to go in there and make my players look real good with the best helmets, visors, sleeve styles, gloves and cleats the game has to offer. Ratings on the other hand, I try to take a measured approach, but I'd be lying to say if I don't give some players I like an extra boost. Just properly save your custom roster afterwards and you're ready to go. I should note that I only use these rosters in offline mode when I want to play with a team I absolutely love and I have a blast doing so.

Minor changes to account

As is the case with most Madden upgrades, this year's version is more of an evolutionary upgrade than a revolutionary change. That means most of the layout, gameplay and design stays similar to last year's. However, there are minor tweaks here and there, aside from the new features we'll get to later that are worth noting.

  • New scoreboard: For the first time in years, EA changed up the scoreboard. Instead of the boring one we've been stuck with for years, it added more flair this year. The main design has been stylized and the offensive team is now distinguish with a splash of color. The score is also now side by side. It's a welcomed change.
  • More gear: Madden NFL 20's offering of gloves and cleats is now more robust than ever. Aside from the usual slate of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour gear, you are treated to some special new items like the Air Jordan Retro cleats that became popular in the NFL last season.
  • Ratings changes: This year, there has been an overhaul to player ratings. They are now more spread out, which means a lot of really good players have middling ratings in the low 80s and high 70s. There are also players in the 50s that will make the final roster.

Gameplay tips to know

Now that you're ready to take the gridiron and start slinging the ball around, here are some tips you should know to properly play the game right now. I should mention that I will mostly focus on the concept rather than full-on breakdowns. My best recommendation is to hop into Practice or Skills Trainer mode to hone these skills.

Overall gamplay

  • Sprint button: When you're player, it's second nature to jam the R2 sprint button at all times, but the most recent versions of Madden put greater importance on patience. With running backs, sprinting makes it easier to run into defensive players and doing so on defense makes it easier to miss tackles.
  • Use all of the controls: Just like how quarterbacks can throws the ball any number of ways (bullet, lob, leading passes) and the defensive players can attack a ball (swat or intercept), use all of these controls. Don't just go for the splashy play.
  • Balance your playcalling: The one thing you need to avoid in Madden is becomng too repetitive. It applies for both on offense and defense. Yes, lean on the strength of your team—passing or man coverage—but throw in some running plays and play some zone to throw off your opponent. Otherwise they will adjust and then you're in trouble.
  • Pay attention to kickers: Kicking often is overlooked, but it has become increasingly difficult with newer Maddens. One wrong control and you're missing kicks left and right. Those extra points add up.

Master the offense

  • Own hot routes: One of the easiest ways to get good at Madden is understanding hot routes. Even if you see one mismatch, getting your player to run a slant through the empty zone could mean an easy touchdown for you. To do so, press the triangle button, select the receiver you want and all the different routes will pop up.
  • Understand coverages: A great way to get one on the defense is by understanding the coverages. Is it Cover 1? Cover 3? Nickel? Dime? Man coverage? Or zone? Keep on eye on the cornerbacks to see if they are playing off or press coverage and see if it is single or two safety coverage.
  • Get comfortable with certain plays: Though teams have a big playbook, it's good to master certain plays to get really good. The end goal is to do so with the whole playbook, but that's a bit daunting, especially for new players. Get real familiar with one or two plays from each formation—Singleback, I Form and Gun—and it'll make it way easier to play faster and make less mistakes.
  • Shift pass protection: One of the defenses biggest advantages is blitzing. A great way to minimize this is by shifting the line to cover the extra man blitzing. To do so, press the L1 button and you can Slide Left, Slight Right, Pinch the line or Max Protect.

Master the defense

  • Don't be too aggresive: It's natural to get out there on defense and try to smash everybody and cause fumbles. That leads to a lot of missed tackles. Instead, take it slow and use Strafing (hold L2) to keep your player in place to make the tackle instead of letting up a 75-yard touchdown.
  • Undertand your players: Know the type of defense you have. If you are a bit weaker on cornerback, you might want to avoid Cover 1 man coverage as that exposes your cornerbacks. The same applies to opting for more man or zone coverage.
  • Use your great players: If you have a great player like Khalil Mack or Jalen Ramsey on defense, you are going to want to use them. Don't be hesitant to use them play in and play out. They are stars for a reason, let them impact the game. If may sound simple, but a lot of great players go unused more often than you think.

New features to use

By now you should be familiar with the way the game works, which is why we're now examining some of the new features added to the latest version of the game.

Unlock and locate Superstar X-Factors

The biggest new feature to Madden NFL 20 is Superstar X-Factors. This feature is meant to highlight some the best players in the game and allow them to impact the game to a higher degree. Only 50 players got this rating and among them are cover athlete Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.

To unlock Superstar X-Factor abilities, you'll have to complete a set of tasks. For Tom Brady, you have to complete three passes of more than 5 yards and he'll be in the zone. However, a sack can knock him out of it. It's a similar metric for the rest of the players. To spot these players during the game, press the R2 button and lift up on the right analog stick to see the defense or down to see the offense.

To go alongside these, there are also players with Superstar abilities. These aren't the cream of the crop, but they are really good players like Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield.

Using these new player abilities will be the best way to improve your gameplay. Focusing on unlocking them could lead to an extra touchdown or interception on defense to ultimately win the game.

Use RPO to fake out the defense

Another new feature in Madden NFL 20 is the incorporation of the run-pass option, or RPO as it is more commonly known. This continues to bolster the playbooks available on Madden and lets you really fake out the defense.

Just about every team has RPOs in their playbook. They are divided into Alerts, Peeks and Reads, and as you see the play develop, you can select whether you want to pass or run. Alerts is the simplest form (just run or press a receiver button to pass) while Reads requires you to read the defense more.

Other tips you need to know

Madden Ultimate Teams tips

Nothing much has changed with the overall play of Madden Ultimate Teams. The structure of the game stayed basically the same, with only a fresh coat of paint on top of it. Complete objectives, solo challenges and work the auction house to collect as many points as you can. Then you can begin building up your team.

Play in the Pro Bowl

If you feel like trying out something different, the Pro Bowl is back in Madden NFL 20. It briefly left last year but now that it's back and you can play as your favorite stars from the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl. As you'd expect, every detail is in its proper place. From the player's jerseys to the venue—Camping World Stadium in Orlando—it's all there.

Some details that may go unnoticed by most is the level of attention to detail to the player's gear. If you aren't familiar, players usually wear different styles in the Pro Bowl, from darker visors to new cleats. Patrick Mahomes for instance, doesn't wear a visor but he did in the Pro Bowl. Naturally, he is wearing a visor in the Pro Bowl but not in the regular roster for the game. That's a pretty cool little detail from EA.

You are now ready to play

We've imparted all of our Madden wisdom upon you, which means you are ready to go out on the virtual field and start tearing it up. Keep our tips in mind when playing or trying to get adjusted to the game. Don't be afraid to lose. Even the best struggle at times with new Maddens as some of the physics engine changes can be really jarring at first.

But in due time, the wins, the stats and the big plays will start coming. Get out there in Franchise mode, Ultimate Teams or whatever mode is your favorite and start dominating.

Danny Zepeda