How is the gameplay for the new Madden 20 QB1 Face of the Franchise mode? We took a dive into the new game to find out what it’s all about.
EA Sports recently launched their annual NFL game Madden 20 on August 2 with typical roaring success. The Franchise junkies, MUTheads, and H2H combatants are all in their glory with the release of this year’s game. Those who picked up Madden for their new story mode QB1: Face of the Franchise may find themselves leaving their gaming chair with mixed feelings.
Each year games like MLB The Show, FIFA, and NBA 2k release with better-than-average story modes that guide you through certain aspects of your created players career.
Whether it be starting in the minor leagues on the road to MLB stardom in The Show, or starting in the Chinese Basketball league on your way to the NBA in 2K, sports games have recently ignited a new type of fan with their story-based game modes.
Madden fans made sure developers heard them loud and clear that they wanted this type of mode in their favorite game.
Madden introduced Longshot in Madden 18, where the game controlled Devin Wade & Colt Cruise through their high school senior year en route to the NFL. There was a reality game show called, you guessed it, Longshot where Wade would battle it out between other NFL quarterback hopefuls in hopes of landing an NFL contract.
The story continued in Madden 19, with the user again controlling Devin Wade as he fought for one last chance at his NFL dream. Both versions of Longshot seemed forced and quite ignored from a story standpoint, which ironically enough was the whole point of the mode’s genesis. Madden 20 has introduced a new spin on Longshot with QB1: Face of the Franchise.
In QB1, or FoF as some would call it, you get to create a player to your likeness and start your story in a bathroom on National Signing Day in anguish over which of the ten available schools you’ll be spending your college career with.
Your choices are between Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Clemson, LSU, Miami, and USC. After you’ve selected your school of choice, the game fast forwards to the College Football Playoff Semifinal game of your senior year.
It’s at this point that Good Morning Football of NFL Network is talking about how this backup (you) who’s never played a single down during his four years at his school is now forced to lead that school through the next two games of the CFB Playoff en route to capturing a National Championship.
The game then flashes back to your freshman year where your coach pulls you into a room shortly after you’ve committed to let you know that Marcus Washington, the clear-cut no. 1 recruit in the country has de-committed and committed at the school you chose to attend.
It’s at this point that you’re clearly taken aback, but the natural competitor in you is unfazed as you then tell your coach, “I’m not going anywhere. Bring him in, I’ll win the job!” It’s at this point that the game flashes you back to the future where you’re getting off the team bus at Cowboys Stadium in preparation for the Semifinal game.
As you walk towards the locker room, a security guard stops you and asks who you are. After being outright embarrassed by the security guard, you then have the ability to enter your name and choose which school you’re going to play against.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to introduce yourself you’re met by Taylor Bennett, a sideline reporter who will be working that night’s game. She asks you questions that allow you to select the type of quarterback you are, whether it be a scrambler, a field general, etc. Bennett then asks you the type of teammate you are to allow you to select your personality traits.
Your choices for personality are options like leader, entertainer, or intense. You’re then given the opportunity to select the quarterback who’s game you felt you modeled yours after (based on your Pre-Order status). I myself picked Randall Cunningham to pair with my scrambler mentality.
Once you’ve finished building your archetype you’re introduced to Isaiah Streets, a wide receiver who’s brother died at age 20 of leukemia and is now gung-ho on winning a national championship for. It’s at this time that Streets drags you out to the field for a little pre-game pitch and catch, which ultimately is your first chance at learning the types of passes you can throw in the game and how to use the controls for them.
Now that you’ve had the opportunity for a meet and greet with your star player, it’s time for Coach Ford to sit down with you and go over the gameplan. Coach Ford sits you down and mentions to you that the head coach recommends going with a simplified version of the playbook to keep you in safe situations and let the defense do the rest. Noting the heightened circumstances of a Playoff game, Streets jumps in and asks you your thoughts on whether this is the right choice. You can either decide to agree with coach or Streets, ultimately deciding the openness of the playbook you’ll have in the game.
Once in the game, it’s now your chance to win. If you win, obviously you’ll be moving on to the National Championship game the following Monday. After the game, win or lose, you meet a little girl named Emily and her father Todd. Emily’s father pulls you aside and asks if you’ll dedicate your next game to Emily by throwing for three, no actually Emily said four touchdowns in your next appearance. You can agree or disagree, if you’re a heartless human being.
Fast forward to the combine, where you have the chance to cement your status for the upcoming NFL Draft. As you’re warming up, a man walks up to you and introduces himself as your agent… um, okay?
Your performance in the Combine throwing session will determine your draft status. I completed 23-of-24 passes at the Combine. As you continue to progress through the drill, you’ll be notified of your draft stock trending up or down.
In one instance of QB1, I completed only 17-of-24 passes, and the story was quite different than the 23-of-24 version, but we’ll get into that in a bit. After your drills are completed, you have the opportunity to meet with NFL teams.
The three teams you’ll meet with are Washington, Miami, and the New York Giants. The meeting with the Giants is a sentimental scene where you pitch yourself as a leader vs the cream of the crop QBs in the draft. Miami’s scout asks you to give him your phone, that he wants to see your internet browsing history. If you decide to simply give up your phone, he’ll tell you that he wonders if he can trust you with your playbook since you gave up your mobile device so easily. If you tell him no, he’ll say that he can at least trust you with a playbook.
Cut to the draft, and it’s one of two scenarios. You’re either invited to the draft where you’ll sit in the green room and likely find yourself picked in the first round, or you’ll be watching from a hotel room with your quasi-agent. In the two different modes I used, I was selected in the 7th round by the Giants, presumably after my incredible one question combine interview. The other scenario I was selected first overall by the Miami Dolphins who apparently traded up for me.
Sound fun? Meh. It may sound fun, but it left a lot to be desired. From a logical standpoint, none of the story makes sense. No 5-star QB is ever going to sit behind another incoming 5-star player at the same position, not in today’s world. The reality of said QB not only staying but never taking a single snap in four years? Come on.
I do feel that QB1 is a step in the right direction, but you can still tell that EA is forcing this mode to keep single-player fans happy. Forcing a bad recipe into someone’s mouth too long and you’ll start to get backlash of wide variety.
It’s no secret that outside of MUT and gameplay EA arguably decides to ignore the other modes that come with a hardcore following. EA knows where the money is and they’ll continue to pour their dollars into it, wisely enough. Just don’t pretend like your other modes are on par with games like MLB The Show and 2k, because they’re not.
Overall rating: 5/10