NHL 23 Looks Good So Far…
It’s that time of year for another installment of everybody’s favorite hockey simulation. And I use the word ‘simulation’ lightly, of course, but here’s the thing – NHL 23 has piqued my interest. More so than in the past several years. Animations and arena authenticity are getting a much-needed overhaul, but it’s a pivotal change to the way puck battles are handled that may forever change the way games are played.
Come along as we cover what we did (and didn’t) like from the recent reveal of EA Sports NHL 23.
For the first time in the NHL series, players are going to have the ability to make a last-ditch effort play after being knocked off the puck. This may sound small, but its effects will be felt throughout every game you jump into. Never before have we had the opportunity to maintain an attack after making contact with a defender. This is – without a doubt – the most significant improvement you’ll see to on-ice action in NHL 23, and once you’ve felt the enhanced control, you won’t ever go back.
NHL 23 will see further improvements to the AI’s ability to attack and defend on a power play in two major ways. First, your teammates will look to get set up in open slots as you cycle the puck in the attacking zone. This should create opportunities more akin to what you’d see in an actual game. Furthermore, AI defenders have been tweaked to no longer relentlessly pursue the puck, allowing the player time and space to set up.
NHL 23 is said to feature the most authentic arena experience we’ve seen in a hockey game. While new lighting and animations provide a much-needed coat of paint to the overall aesthetic, it’s the crowd that genuinely shines this year. Now, the fans will react to contextual situations throughout the game, providing a much more engaging experience. Crowds will countdown to big victories, boo players off the ice, and call out refs for making a less-than-favorable call.
But Is It Enough?
Though for all of the improvements EA Vancouver has been eager to show off, the question remains – will it be enough? It’s no secret that the NHL series has floundered for years, primarily due to its developer’s inability to create simulation hockey. All the other sports games feel like their real-life counterparts. Fifa feels like soccer. MLB The Show feels like baseball. On the other hand, EA Sports NHL still feels mired by its archaic, arcadey gameplay.
Will this year be more of the same? Almost certainly.
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