Madden 23 Skill-Based Passing Explained: Accuracy Or Power, And Is It Worth It?

The short answer is yes, absolutely.

In Madden 23, one of the biggest changes to the game is what EA Tiburon calls Skill-Based Passing. This new feature is meant to give quarterbacks more control than ever before in deciding where to put the ball. EA says when used well, this will allow QBs to hit receivers on previously hard-to-execute routes, such as back-shoulder fades or threading the needle between two zones.

On paper, it sounds revolutionary, as Madden has severely lacked such passing control for years. But how does it work in practice, and should you opt into using it or revert back to the old system of leaving up to the game’s simulation-heavy outcomes? The answer is eventually apparent, but not as soon as you may expect. Here’s all you need to know about Skill-Based Passing in Madden 23.

Madden 23 Skill-Based Passing: Is it worth it?

The short answer to the above question is a resounding yes. Healthy skepticism around Madden’s annual named-with-buzzwords features is to be expected. Madden players have been burned plenty over the past three decades. But after many hours of play, I’m ready to call it: Skill-Based Passing is legit. While it may drum up awkward memories of QB Vision, the only thing the two features really have in common is a focus on improving the passing game. Skill-Based Passing gets most of what it’s going for so very right, even as the learning curve feels daunting at first.

Skill-Based Passing: Accuracy or Power?

EA Tiburon wisely added a Skill-Based Passing tutorial to the game following some beta feedback that said it was hard to grasp. This tutorial will greet you as soon as you first boot up the game, so there’s no missing it–though you can replay it in the Skills Trainer if ever you so desire. The first question you’ll need to answer is whether to use Placement + Power or Placement + Accuracy. In the tutorial, you might find both are somehow still hard to understand, but here’s the most important part to know: These two systems are effectively the same thing, really only changing the visual feedback you get on your screen. Using either is markedly better than going back to the previous system. You can enjoy the greater level of ball control with either system. One merely better visualizes where you’re targeting the ball with your left stick, while the other better highlights the amount of “mustard” you put on the ball.

Because most Madden players likely mastered the subtleties of lob, touch, and bullet passes years ago, it’s my suggestion that most Madden players should use Placement + Accuracy. Seeing exactly where you’re putting the ball within the target area will soon help you become a more accurate passer, soaring the ball over defenders to spaces where only your wideout can make a play, or keeping the ball in front of the wideout on a crossing pattern and preventing the defender from jumping the route–two things the old system was notoriously bad at preventing.

When throwing with the Placement + Accuracy system, you’ll see a small circle icon appear on screen within a bigger circle. Think of the big circle as the possible ball placement region according to factors such as your QB’s accuracy rating, his foot placement when he threw the ball, and whether he was under pressure from defenders. The smaller circle visualizes where you’ve told the ball to go precisely, according to your use of the left stick. Pointing the stick up and to the left or right, while combining with a touch pass, will help you get the ball into a tight back-pylon window when in the red zone, for example. This makes the simple act of throwing a pass in Madden a bit more complex, but comes with much more reward.

Madden 23 Skill-Based Passing Explained: Accuracy Or Power, And Is It Worth It?

If you only learn one thing from this guide, let it be this: Skill-Based Passing works, and you should use it.

What I really want to emphasize with this guide is that Skill-Based Passing is definitively better than going back to the old ways, but it’s not going to feel like it even after the tutorial. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you give the tutorial a try, but commit to using Skill-Based Passing even after it’s probably only made things more confusing. The best practice is done in a live setting at game speed. Take the new mechanics into a low-stakes game of Exhibition or Head To Head and mess around with it. Allow yourself to get a feel for the system. The revolution will likely not be apparent right away, but give it a few quarters, or even a few games, and I think you’ll come to agree that there’s no going back.

You’ll find how your use of the left stick corresponds with the precise destination of the ball. More accurate passers will still have a leg up on lesser signal-callers, but Skill-Based Passing makes all QBs markedly better, without a doubt, because it takes some of Madden’s RNG elements and swaps them out for more player control. Taking Madden’s randomness out of the game, like on pre-canned tackle animations, has long been atop the fan wishlist, and this year’s game addresses some of those concerns thanks to Skill-Based Passing and the larger Fieldsense overhaul. While other aspects of the game are still being judged by the community, I do strongly suggest that all serious Madden players leave the past behind and give themselves a day or two to understand, and soon master, the new Skill-Based Passing system in Madden 23.

For more Madden 23 guides, don’t miss our coverage of this year’s X-Factors and Superstars, complete rosters and ratings for all 32 teams, and a quick primer on how to use the new celebration mechanics, including how to hit the Griddy.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

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