Madden NFL 24 has been revealed, bringing with it a host of new features to feel hopeful about, such as the Tactical Blocking System meant to enhance blocking AI, as well as the return of practice minigames and Superstar mode. But for me, one of the most exciting bullet points among the many revealed already isn't a new feature at all: It's the option to turn off a feature first introduced in Madden 22: M Factors.
M Factors derive their name from X Factors, the abilities assigned to the best players to help simulate the way NFL superstars can take over a game. With X Factors, players like Justin Jefferson can become virtually uncoverable if his X Factor is activated. These have been in the game nearly a half-decade now, and generally they do a great job at achieving their goal. The best players should be able to dominate like that, and though some X Factors have had to receive nerfs or tweaks over the years, this is a system I--and seemingly most of the Madden community--really enjoy.
M Factors are not nearly as fun or well-developed. The M stands for momentum, an already dubious concept one ought not mention around NFL Network's Patrick Claybon or ESPN's Bill Barnwell. M Factors are meant to simulate home-field advantage and momentum shifts during a game. Jump out to a 14-0 start, and you'll see your team get buffed or your opponent get nerfed. Each stadium has its own custom M Factor, often meant to represent a real-life aspect of the location, such as Seattle's deafening "12th Man"--a name for the crowd's raucous noise that can feel as disruptive on the field as an additional player. These are a nice idea in theory, but poorly implemented in practice. Thankfully, starting with Madden 24, commissioners in Franchise mode can elect to turn them off.
Whereas X Factors tend to follow a player's skill set logically--Derrick Henry should be harder to tackle once his X is activated, because so often he is in real life, too--M Factors are not nearly as easy to follow. One of the worst ones includes a defense being able to see a primary receiver's route pattern pre-snap--which not only tips off a pass play, but the absence of a route gives away the fact that the offense is running the ball. Another terrible M Factor removes the catch reticule for defenders, making interceptions much harder to time. Yet another makes all route patterns appear as moving squiggly lines, as though someone is shaking a giant plate of spaghetti.
Beyond each stadium's signature M Factor, others are randomized at the start of each game, which can lead to some awful combinations that make it feel like the team that is losing early faces an impossible hill to climb. Then there's the fact that some teams just don't have a signature quality to them, so the Madden team had to invent them, resulting in some feeling picked out of a hat. For example, the Titans' home-field advantage is the benefit of fewer holding penalties, something that has no real relationship to the team in reality.
Where X Factors feel like reasonable simulations of a player's dominance, M Factors have historically felt like arcadey nonsense that doesn't belong in a simulation football experience. Suffice it to say I am thankful they're finally made optional in Madden 24.
The path of some poorly received Madden features over the years is often predictable: The studio touts a new feature, it either doesn't work as intended or it does and people don't like it, and usually after a couple years it's wiped out of the game or made optional, as though the team is admitting it got one wrong. The team gets plenty right as well, of course. I'm not nearly as pessimistic about Madden as you may see online in the game's wider community. It's a troubled game at times, but I play it several times a week and I do not feel held hostage. Still, I was hoping Madden 24 would be soon enough for EA Tiburon to perform the mea culpa part of this oft-seen feature trajectory. Good riddance, M Factors. I will hit the Griddy on your grave.
For more on Madden NFL 24, don't miss our complete reveal story with tons of new information on Franchise, Superstar, and more, as well as our guide to the game's new cross-play features.
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