Review of NHL ’20 — Once again rockin’ the rink

Ever since lacing up the skates back in 1991, EA Sports has been dominating the NHL videogame market.  Despite facing tough competition in the past, the publishing powerhouse has buried many slapshots with its laundry list of modes, accessible controls, and hard-hitting gameplay.  With that being said, what does NHL ’20, the 29th game in EA’s iconic hockey series, bring to the table (Or to the rink, rather)? No highly-drastic changes per se, but it has indeed done a noticeable amount of juggling to the lines.

Is it October yet?

With the help of RPM Tech, the skating is even tighter, and the shooting has been revamped for the purpose of recreating the shots you see from big names like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, P.K. Subban, etc. But even if your player is highly adept at shooting, scoring is more difficult thanks to the heavily-improved goalie intelligence.  In terms of additions to the existing game modes, Ultimate Team now has Squad Battles, and the Ones mode is set up as an 81-player bracketed tournament (Which is basically the NHL version of your typical battle-royale shooter).

The graphics haven’t changed much except for the retooled broadcast package, which includes new scoreboards and a heavily-tweaked highlight reel system.  We also get a new commentary team in James Cybulski and Ray Ferraro, who are occasionally joined by celebrities such as Drake.  Music-wise, this isn’t one of my favorite NHL game soundtracks, but it does have popular artists like Silversun Pickups and Motionless in White.

I AM a hockey player

I definitely wouldn’t consider NHL ’20 to be a completely different game from its predecessor, but the longtime hockey fan in me is more than satisfied with the refinements that the folks at EA Sports have implemented.  Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or you’ve been along for the ride since the Genesis days, this game won’t disappoint you.  Ready to rock-y? Let’s play some hockey!

Puck yeah! — EA Sports announces NHL ’20

Summer’s approaching, and you know what that means — The annual sports simulations are being announced one after another. And for those of you to love to play some puck, today is a day to be happy because the folks at EA Sports are cleaning up the ice and gearing up for NHL ’20.

On the rink itself, this new iteration of EA’s hockey franchise promises more than 45 new shot animations, new goaltender AI, and a new animation system that aims to make the skaters’ actions more seamless. Whether you think these improvements are very subtle or very noticable is entirely your call.

It’s been since the NHL series has drastically changed the broadcast package, but they’re doing so this year with a new HUD, commentary team, and highlights system. It doesn’t look like the NBC license has been renewed, but I could very well be wrong.

Hockey Ultimate Team this year features many new players as well as the Squad Battles from the FIFA franchise. In these offline matches, you’ll be facing not only current NHL players, but also musicians, athletes from other sports, etc. Sounds like HUT will be just as fun as ever, provided you can handle its microtransaction system.

World of CHEL is receiving tons of new content like new weekly challenges, equipment, clothing, and even new outdoor rinks set in a wide variety of environments. The Ones mode will now be playable in local multiplayer, which will make for some fun parties if you’ve got a couple of friends willing to lace ’em up (Hope you’ve got pizza and Pepsi on standby!). There’s one more update to CHEL this year, and probably the most controversial one so far…A battle royale mode for 81 players. Yes, a battle royale in a sports game…What a bandwagon this has become.

NHL ’20 may not be hitting the ice for another three months, but it seems they’ve already got a loaded locker room of new features (Yes, that includes the battle royale mode). EA may hit the crossbar sometimes, but I have full confidence that this new hockey game will be a one-timer worthy of the highlight reel.