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Madden 23: How Does Skill-Based Passing Work And Should You Use It?

Historically speaking, the "Madden NFL" series has had a pretty simplistic approach to the game of football. Whether you're on offense or defense, the gameplay loop mostly boils down to pressing corresponding buttons to perform the actions you're looking for. It's this kind of simplicity that has arguably led to the series' massive sales success (per Polygon), even if some of the games themselves can be kind of a mess these days. However, EA Sports seems to have decided to up the ante a little bit with "Madden NFL 23" — at least on the offensive side of the ball — through a new system called "Skill-Based Passing."

In the game of American football, there is arguably no position on the field more important than quarterback. Even the NFL itself has said this. No matter how well a front office can design and put together a team, it typically isn't worth its salt unless there's a bona fide talent lining up under center. To capture this importance, EA Sports has placed an emphasis on the QB spot and implemented Skill-Based passing to give players more control than ever when throwing the ball in "Madden NFL 23." But how does this new system work — and is it right for your style of play?

What is Skill-Based Passing?

In a deep dive through all the new features that will be in "Madden NFL 23," EA Sports explains that Skill-Based Passing was implemented to make sure that players have ultimate control over ball placement. Basically, what it boils down to is using the left stick to select the exact area where you want to place the ball. The Skill-Based Passing feature is shown to aid players in leading receivers on slant routes, or dumping the ball to tall wide-outs in tight areas of the field.

According to an official EA Sports press release, Skill-Based Passing will be broken down into two components: the target area and target reticle. The target area represents the general vicinity of where the ball is going, while the reticle determines the precise placement of the pass. For instance, if your wide receiver is in tight man-to-man coverage, it might be advantageous to throw the ball in an area — either behind them or in front — where it's harder for the defender to get their hand in there and bat down or intercept the pass. As noted by GameSpot, these parameters are broken down into two separate categories, depending on what players prefer: Precision + Accuracy or Precision + Power.

Is Skill-Based Passing for you?

While Skill-Based Passing might sound daunting to the normal "Madden" player who's been casually button mashing for the past two decades and change, EA Sports itself promises that this new system will appeal to players of all skill levels. While a learning curve is certainly almost a guarantee, it doesn't seem like players will have all too difficult a time adjusting to the new system no matter which version — power or accuracy — they are using. Skill-Based Passing will also have its own tutorial when you first open the game. And if you're one of those players that can't be bothered with learning this new technique, "Madden NFL 23" also offers the option to use the series' classic, more simplistic approach to passing.

If you're looking for a challenge, "Madden NFL 23" also gives players the option to use what EA call "Free-Form" passing by turning off max distance settings, giving them even more control. Free-Form is triggered by using your controller's shoulder buttons, and allows players to bypass the target area. Using this function removes the low-pass function left over from past entries, but that mechanic can be replicated by pressing down on your left thumbstick.

Essentially, Skill-Based Passing doesn't seem to create as big of a skill gap as one might think, therefore it can be considered to be for mostly everyone. The true Free-Form passing, however, seems to be geared more towards a more expert-level passer.