In the NFL, the truly elite players can sometimes feel like men amongst boys when they get in their groove.

It seems like these stars have times when everything just goes their way. They catch every pass, dodge every tackle, and force every turnover. All the momentum is on their side and it truly seems that they can do no wrong.

This phenomenon is represented well in Madden 23, with the “in the zone” and “superstar X factor” features. When an elite player enters the zone, they seem to become borderline unstoppable and can take over the entire game themselves.

Controlling one of these X-factor players when they’re in the zone is incredibly fun, as you take advantage of their ability’s benefits. That’s why today we’re going to walk you through how to enter the zone in Madden NFL 23.

Determining Your Player’s X Factor Ability

In Madden 23, the different X-factor players come with different abilities once they’re in the zone. Each different ability has its own criteria that must be met to enter the zone and activate the ability. Due to this, it’s important to know what abilities the players that you’ll be playing with actually have.

The quickest way to determine this is by viewing the in-game list of all the X-factor abilities. To look at this list, you’ll want to start from the main menu screen. Once at the main menu, navigate over to the small NFL shield logo on the far right of the options.

When you select that NFL logo by pressing X (or A) a pop-up list of options will appear with the topmost option being “View Superstar X-Factors”.

View superstar X Factors

Once you select that, the game will pull up the full list of players with X factor and superstar abilities in Madden 23. For the purposes of entering the zone, we’ll only be paying attention to the X factor abilities, as the superstar abilities are weaker, always active abilities that don’t have a zone requirement to them.

When looking at this list you can scroll individually through all the players or use L2 (or LT) to filter by team so you can exclusively see the superstar X-factor players on the team you plan to be controlling.

When you’ve found the players that you’ll be using, you can press X (or A) for a closer look at all their abilities (and the in-game benefits of those abilities), as well as the specific tasks you must complete to enter the zone and what it takes to be taken out of the zone once you’ve entered it.

For the purposes of today’s guide, I’ll be using the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady’s “Pro Reads” X Factor ability.

Tom Brady

Note: In Franchise Mode, the pool of players who have X factor and superstar abilities will change over time. You can look at your franchise mode’s current player abilities at any time by navigating to the “league” tab and selecting the “X Factor Database” which will present you with a list similar to the previously mentioned list found in the game’s main menu screen.

X factor database

Entering the Zone and Activating Your X Factor Ability

Once you’ve read and understand your player’s X Factor abilities and how to enter the zone to activate them, it’s time to boot up a game and put them to use!

During the game, there will be multiple points where a small blurb will appear reminding you of what the players’ X factors abilities are and how to activate them.

The first will be on the play call screen, where it will appear in the bottom corner of the screen opposite your offensive or defensive playbook (in this case, the lower left-hand corner).

The second will be before the snap after a play has been selected and all the players are lined up on the field. If you hold down L2 (or LT) the camera will zoom out and the X factor abilities for any players currently on the field, both offense and defense, will appear at the bottom of the screen.

Play calling

As you can see here, in order to activate Tom Brady’s “Pro Reads” ability he must complete three consecutive passes of at least five yards in the air.

This means the ball must travel at least five yards between where he throws the ball and where the receiver catches it, so most screen passes won’t count here even if they wind up gaining more than five yards.

Complete the requirements listed for your player’s X-factor abilities and congratulations, you’ve entered the zone!

Once you’ve successfully entered the zone, the ability logo in the previously mentioned blurbs will light up to signify that your X-factor ability is now active.

In the zone

Staying in the Zone

When a player is in the zone, the text in the blurb will no longer show the requirements for entering the zone.

Instead, it will now show the boosts the X factor ability provides to the player, as well as what it will take to exit the zone.

On field in the zone

As you can see, Tom Brady’s “Pro Reads” X Factor ability will highlight whoever the first receiver is to get open on any given play. However, this benefit can be quickly lost, as just a single sack will take him out of the zone.

Pay attention to these details as you play, as there are some X factor abilities that can be lost by a string of events occurring instead of a singular one, such as Mike Evans’ “Double Me” X Factor ability, which is lost by not being targeted on three consecutive pass attempts.

As a player gets closer to exiting the zone, their X factor blurb will reflect that, in this case, you can see that Mike Evans has not yet registered any of the three consecutive non-targeted pass attempts required to exit the zone.

Mike Evans

If you see it getting close to full, try to counteract it so your player stays in the zone and you can continue to dominate!

It’s also worth noting that you can also use all the already explained methods of viewing your players’ X Factor abilities to monitor the abilities of your opponents’ X-factors. Keep an eye on these to make sure you don’t let your opponent enter the zone!

If, at any time in-game, you find yourself needing a comprehensive look at the players’ zone abilities, you can also view them from the pause menu. Simply scroll down to “Coaching” and select “Superstar X-Factor”. From there you’ll be able to see all the necessary details about the X Factor abilities of every player in the game.

Pause menu

This screen also allows you to see the zone abilities of players who aren’t currently on the field.

Final Word

Controlling a player who’s on fire and in the zone is incredibly fun and rewarding in Madden 23, as when they get rolling they can truly dominate the competition. That’s why it’s important to know how to activate these zone abilities and keep them there!

As far as superstar x-factor abilities are concerned, familiarizing yourself with the elite players in the game is a good place to start identifying the players that have them.