Superstar and X-Factor abilities are key parts of the Madden NFL series. Madden NFL 20 introduced abilities to the series in 2019. Since then, the number of abilities in the game continue to grow. Not only have new abilities been added to the game, but existing abilities have undergone balancing changes throughout the years. Most notably, the development team upgraded the Escape Artist ability from a superstar to an X-Factor ability because of how overpowered it was in Madden NFL 22.
However, players are still sometimes confused about what Madden NFL 23 quarterback abilities actually do. At times, the descriptions offered in-game can be less than helpful in determining exactly how these abilities affect the game. It would help if players were provided with exact numeric descriptions of how these abilities affect gameplay. Think of how most RPGs offer descriptions of abilities like “2% increase to crit chance.”
Recently, SGO received information from a source about how Madden NFL quarterback abilities are coded into the game. So, I decided to do some testing to see if these abilities function how the game says they do, or if there was a better description of these abilities that I could provide to the players. In this new series, I will look at a few of the abilities that I feel can use a better description and a few general notes on how the abilities operate.
This first part will focus on Madden NFL 23 quarterback ability. These abilities are the ones players probably spend the most time tinkering with. While other positions can equip at most two superstars and one X-Factor ability, QBs can equip up to five superstar abilities along with their X-Factor ability.
To test these abilities, I used the Colts in practice mode in Franchise. This means I was only able to test the abilities that are available in Franchise. There are a few abilities that are only in “MUT,” but since there is no practice mode in “MUT,” I did not have a viable way of testing them.
I maxed out the relevant ratings of both Matt Ryan and Nick Foles. However, Foles remained a normal player while I switched Ryan to a Superstar X-Factor player. This allowed me to test how the abilities affected Ryan’s passes by comparing them to Foles as the control. I also used classic passing, as I didn’t want my ability with the freeform passing system to influence the results.
No-Look Deadeye in theory can be a very powerful ability. It can turn any quarterback good enough to equip it into Patrick Mahomes. The in-game description of the ability reads “Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all cross-body throws up to 20 yards (except on high/low throws).”
I decided to break this description down piece by piece to test its accuracy. The first Madden NFL quarterback ability I tested was the perfect accuracy part. The best way for me to do this was to hot route the far left receiver to a smoke screen, roll out far right with Matt Ryan, then throw back to the far left receiver.
A key piece of the description seems to have been left out. In order for this ability to activate, the QB cannot be under pressure when he makes this throw. Both my results and the game’s code support this. Inside the code is an object that determines if the QB is under pressure or not. If the QB is under pressure, it prevents this ability from activating.
Another line of code helped me understand the part about “throws up to 20 yards.” This ability also has an object in the code called “IsPassTargetWithin20YardsofQB.” This is different from passing 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. When tested, I found the pass does indeed have to be within 20 yards of the QB himself in order for the ability to activate. This means if you have a route 15 yards downfield, but you drop more than 5 yards behind the line on your drop back, the ability will not activate.
The code that describes what the ability does when activated also caught my eye. Alongside the “Passing_PerfectAccuracy,” part of this ability’s code, there is also “Passing_IgnoreOnTheRunThrowPowerPenalties.” To test this, I had Matt Ryan running while attempting a cross-body throw. The passes had no problems making it to the receiver. I then put in Nick Foles, who did not have this ability equipped, and tried making the same throws. When Foles was on the run and tried to throw cross-body, the pass would often be underthrown, and the message “On The Run” would pop up telling me why the pass was bad.
There also seems to be a problem with cross-body throws in general. I found when I ran Four Verticals with the TE lined up on the right side of the offensive line, if I threw the ball quick enough it would cause No-Look Deadeye to activate. This is weird, considering this was not a cross-body throw. This was the only way I was able to get this to mess up.
With all that said, a better description of what “No-Look Deadeye” actually does is that it gives passers perfect accuracy. Further, it negates the “on-the-run” penalty to throw power on all unpressured cross-body throws up to 20 yards from the QB (except on high/low throws).
The problems with the Dashing Deadeye ability are very similar to the ones we saw with No-Look Deadeye. Dashing Deadeye is described in-game as follows: “Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all throws under 40 yards while running outside the pocket (except on high/low throws).” Again, a few key parts of this description are missing.
In the game’s code, this Madden NFL quarterback ability also has an object that prevents it from activating if the QB is under pressure and has the “Passing_IgnoreOnTheRunThrowPowerPenalties” piece of code. I tested both of these the same way I did before and again found them to be genuine parts of the ability. I then confirmed that the on-the-run and outside-the-pocket requirements for this ability work as intended. Additionally, there is a part of the code that will prevent the ability from activating if the throw is cross-body.
The biggest problem I found with this ability is the range. In its description, it says that the ability works on throws under 40 yards. Meanwhile, the code says that the throw distance from the QB must be under 30 yards. After my testing, I found that the throw does have to be under 30 yards for the ability to activate. This is a typo in the description that needs to be fixed.
After some consideration, I believe a better description of the Dashing Deadeye ability should be: Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy and no penalty to throw power on all unpressured throws under 30 yards from the QB while on the run outside the pocket (except on high/low and cross-body throws).
Long Range Deadeye
This ability was much easier to test. Long Range Deadeye’s description is: “Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all deep throws while their feet are set (except on high/low throws).” This description is a little vague on the proper definition of a deep throw. How far does a pass need to travel to be considered a deep throw?
Oddly, the code was also a little vague. All other instances of throwing range have specified measurements from the quarterback. This time, it just said IsPass40+Yards. This means I knew how far the range of this ability should be. Now, I just needed to find the point from which I should measure the QB or, the line of scrimmage.
This was simple to do. I dropped 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and threw a pass about 30 yards from the line. If the ability was activated, it was measured from the QB. If not, it was measuring from the line of scrimmage. These passes consistently triggered the ability, meaning it measures from the QB just as the other abilities do.
For this ability, my improved description is: Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all throws of 40+ yards from the QB while their feet are set (except on high/low throws).
Sleight of Hand
To be frank, I can’t see any sort of effect from this ability. The description for Slight of Hand reads “Passers with this ability have an increased success rate when using pump fakes on double-move routes against zone coverage.” However, the actual code does not support this.
In the code, Sleight of Hand has two advantages. The first is called, “Passing_PumpFake_GuaranteedFakeOut.” This seems to suggest that passers with this ability are guaranteed to fake out defenders. The other is called, “Passing_PumpFake_PassRushersJump,” which likely means it is intended that some pass rushers will jump to tip the pass when the QB pump fakes. The code for this ability also has no objects that either prevent it or must be satisfied in order for it to activate. This means in theory these effects should take place on every pump fake, not just those on double-move routes against zone coverage.
However, when I actually tested this Madden NFL quarterback ability, I could not get it to activate no matter what I did. I then tested this play both against man and zone coverage. The first play I tested had come-and-go routes on the outside. I never saw defenders get faked out by my pump fakes. I often saw the coverage play out the same whether I pump-faked or not.
The next play had a receiver run across the middle of the field, stop, then turn upfield. I tested this play against Cover 2 base defense and hoped to see the safeties and linebacker in the middle of the field react somehow to my pump fakes. However, they played the receiver the same. It didn’t seem to matter whether I pump-faked or not.
Based on my results, the Sleight of Hand ability does not currently function correctly. This ability does not cause any significant effect on defenders when using pump fakes. Until EA Sports release a patch for this ability, don’t waste a slot on it.
The final Madden NFL quarterback ability we will discuss here is Protected. The game describes Protected as “Passers with this ability receive better pass blocking from their offensive linemen.” This is a pretty basic description, but it does not say exactly what it is doing in order to give the QB better pass protection.
The code for this ability has two parts. The first is, “Preplay_PassBlockTargetingHelperLogic.” While I am not sure exactly what this does, I assume it helps offensive linemen with the logic they use in the blocking schemes. The second part is, “Passing_PocketDegradationTimerPenalty.” From the name, it sounds like this means that the pocket will degrade slower, giving QBs more time to throw the ball.
I decided the best way to test this Madden NFL quarterback ability was to see if it actually does give the QB more time before the defense gets to them. I made sure all offensive and defensive linemen had no abilities equipped. This was so that only the Protected ability would have any effects on the linemen. I then set all the offensive linemen’s physical (speed, acceleration, agility, strength, awareness) and pass blocking (pass blocking, pass blocking finesse, pass blocking power, lead block, impact block) ratings to be the same. Additionally, I set their run-blocking ratings to 0 to ensure they had no impact on the test.
I ran the same play ten times in practice mode while recording how long it took for the defense to sack the QB. I repeated this process with a QB who did not have Protected equipped. After this, I increased the ratings for the offensive linemen by 10. The range for this experiment for linemen’s ratings went from 60 to 90.
What I found was very surprising. At ratings 60, 70, and 80, there was a slight increase in the average time it took the defense to get a sack. But this increase was less than half a second in all three cases. Finally, I tested at 90 ratings for the offensive line. This time, the QB without the ability equipped was actually protected longer. The QB without Protected had about 0.6 seconds longer to throw.
From these results, it seems that the Protected ability does not work as intended. This is disappointing because the pass rush in Madden NFL 23 is very powerful. It would be nice to have an ability that at least helps with this in some way. But, until this ability is fixed, I would not recommend using it.
In general, the game does a good job describing Madden NFL 23 quarterback abilities. We only found three with parts left out, and two more that just do not work. This is a small number of the abilities for QBs that have problems that need to be addressed.
A few things to keep in mind about Madden NFL quarterback abilities: if they have a range on them, it is usually measured from the QB, not the line of scrimmage. Also, being under pressure more often will prevent the ability from triggering. Finally, the majority of QB abilities do not work on high/low or cross-body throws.
If you enjoyed this article and want more information on Madden NFL 23 abilities, make sure to stay tuned for the rest of this series.
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