Right off the bat you’ll notice (at least if you played NHL 21) that the box menus are gone. Not sure what they were thinking on those but whatever. EA moved the NHL franchise to the frostbite engine this year. When they did that with their NFL game a few years back it didn’t go over so well...
Thankfully they worked out most of the bugs. Although it would be pretty funny to see a bunch of hockey players shoved into a net or something silly like that. Visually it is one of the best out there in the world of sports. I enjoyed the incorporation of game stats on ice and even in the penalty box.
The commentary is still on par with last years title. James Cybulski and Ray Ferraro return to the booth. Carrlyn Bathe is the third person to round out the team. I’ve only noticed her touting the superstar X-Factor players though. Which is kind of a bummer.
Franchise Mode: A mode that still offers everything under the sun as far as franchise mode can offer. I mean you have to repair the bathrooms in the Enterprise Center! (I’m not kidding. It flags you if the bathrooms are in bad condition.)
The Seattle Kraken make their debut in this installment. Sick of seeing the same 32 teams? You can create your own team and become the 33rd franchise in the NHL. Wanna move the Coyotes to Quebec? You can do that too! Be careful though. If you don’t meet the owner demands you can actually get canned by your favorite franchise. You can be as hands off or as hands on as you want. Don’t worry Doug I didn’t deal with the Tarasenko situation either.
Be a Pro Mode: Always wanted to play in the NHL but can’t skate? Or stick handle? Or anything having to do with playing hockey?! This mode offers you the chance to do that. You start out as a prospect and work your way towards the NHL. You’ll have interviews with coaches and reporters shaping who you are as a teammate and towards your brand. While you’re playing you’ll get coaching feedback. The game grades you from game to game so don’t take too many offensive zone penalties there Perron.
Hockey Ultimate Team: Otherwise known as HUT the mode lets you create a team from cards that you earn. You can either play online against other player created teams or take on the CPU. If you’re not wanting to play against other players (like me) there is a mode within HUT called squad battles. You still play against other player created teams, but they are computer controlled. Depending on what difficulty you play on, you earn points. Those points build for rewards. That includes ranking and everything. It’s a really neat mode in the mode and I’ve had the most fun trying to build a team to beat.
The World of Chel: Gonna be honest. Haven’t even opened this mode yet because I’m having too much fun in franchise and HUT. This is basically be a pro mode only it’s online. At least that’s what it seemed like last year. I’ve watched people play on Twitch and things like that and it seems like a good time.
NHL Threes: If actual hockey isn’t your thing then this is the mode for you. Arcade style hockey with big hits and crazy mascot antics. Yes, you can play as mascots in this mode. It’s good for a break from the five on five style that the other modes have. Penalties are few and far between if at all. When they do happen a penalty shot is awarded. You can earn different players and mascots by earning stars. Playing at a higher difficulty nets you more points. It also earns you better players. A fun mode for the more casual fan. I only wish they would go back to the original way it was set up. You’d play against minor league clubs and then you’d play against the NHL team. Now you just play against the NHL clubs and it isn’t as fun.
Overall there are enough tweaks in the game that it’s not just a $60 roster update. It’ll be interesting to see what is going to happen when roster sharing hits the game in December(?) Play as the 95 Blues in franchise mode? Maybe. It’s an exciting thought. I recommend this title to anyone that is a video game/hockey fan. If you are still on the fence about it the game does go on sale every so often. But for real check it out.