When EA Sports started to advertise the upcoming technical test for NHL 23, that meant the game's arrival is finally getting closer.
It's expected to come out in August, and we should get more information on the game in due time. For NHL video gamers, the excitement over even the smallest information on the next game is about to ramp up.
But, as always, it's easy to be cautiously optimistic for the next offering. The EA NHL video game series has been criticized for its lack of true additions and improvements to the game, with the same bugs being abused for years and years and nothing truly game-changing coming to the series in quite some time.
If there is a major feature this year, we're not aware of it yet. So, let's just look at some simple fixes that would make the playing experience so much better:
Crossplay, or at least CrossGen
With every new console video game generation, you'll get people lagging back and waiting a few years to pick up the newest system.
This time around, though, it's a much bigger issue. Due to chip shortages preventing more PS5s from flooding the market, it's been an extremely difficult two years for people looking to snag one. It's been a bit easier the past few months, but if you weren't actively seeking one consistently, you had a tough time getting what you wanted.
So, on both the Playstation and Xbox side of things, the game was split into four versions representing the past two console generations. That meant, unlike in NHL 21 where it was the same game on both generations, allowing people from the same console family to play together regardless of system, you couldn't do that in 22. If you had a team of six people you typically play with, and one didn't have the latest hardware, they were essentially relegated to the AHL.
I can't explain how frustrating it is a month or two after the game to have to wait 2-3 minutes for a game of 3s Eliminator, a fun, arcade-style mode that should have no issue finding available teams to play. And then half the time after you'd get into the match, there'd be a server issue and you'd have to start all over again.
Crossplay -- or in the case of this specific example, crossmarket -- would also be a huge boost for the HUT community, allowing you to buy and sell cards with people on other
FIFA 23 and F1 22 both have crossplay enabled, so there's hope that, maybe, just maybe, fans of the NHL franchise will get it. But I wouldn't get your hopes up, either. If we can't get crossplay enabled, could we just get a year of cross-generation, at least?
Be A Pro Revamp
EA revamped Be a Pro back in NHL 21, supposedly breathing new life into the mode that makes your created player the center of attention.
Oh man, they fumbled that big time.
If I have to have another dang conversation with my captain about buying hot dogs at a baseball game or going bowling, I'll lose it. None of the conversations were worth reading, and none of them felt natural, either.
It's no fun being the team good guy, but being a Sean Avery doesn't do much for the experience. And once you max everything out, there's no real point in paying attention to any of the story mode.
Speaking of that, building a compelling story for a sports game is a challenge. Some have tried, and most have failed. So what's the solution? I truly don't know. NHL 22's career mode felt outdated the minute it came out, and 22 did very little to change that. MLB 22's Road to the Show mode is highly regarded, but NHL's offering just feels like a first attempt that never really made it out of beta. So while I don't have a
NHL 22's biggest selling feature were the new X-Factors, allowing players to add new abilities to their character to allow them to excel in certain aspects of the game. For example, if you're more of a Datsyukian-style dangler, using Puck on a String would be a huge help.
But unfortunately, the idea didn't work the way they hoped it would. In regular club play, players would just abuse the living dingus out of Close Quarters, allowing players to score wonky goals from weird angles as long as they were close to the crease. That led to so many unrealistic situations, and if you were a small, speedy forward with it attached, it was essentially a freebie every game.
In 3s eliminator, what's the point in running anything but Truculence? In a game dominated by big hits and no rules, the easiest path to diamond or elite status was just being a 6-foot-5 bruiser that sends everyone flying, and then letting your teammates finish the play off with everyone trying to pick their teeth off the ice.
The idea was to make X-Factors balanced, and they didn't come close to achieving that for true competitive play.
In World of Chel, being able only to change attributes by plus-or-minus-five for each trait takes away true customization. It's a good start, especially when strategically taking away from other traits to focus on the ones you care about the most, but having a truly unique build would make for more creativity and diversity. This feels like an easy fix, but keeping things balanced is still important.
Better WOC Customization
How hard could it be to have color sliders for different parts of a helmet design? There are so many great masks that I'd love to try out, but don't match my team's color scheme, so I never end up using it. My team is green and black -- you can see our jersey in the photo at the very top -- and it took me 10 months to get the mask that matches our uniform.
Is it my favorite mask? No. But because I can't change the colors of any of the custom designs, my options are limited.
And that goes far beyond goalie equipment. Players run into the same issues too, whether it's sticks, helmets or the casual clothing word during drop-in games. It's great having so many options, but it still doesn't feel unique enough when you can't customize what you have to your liking.
And please, for the love of God, allow us to open all hockey bags at once. God forbid you forget to open them after a few days.
Improved goalie controls
My team regards me as the Andrei Vasilevskiy of NHL 22. OK, I received some laugh reacts in our team group chat when I sent that.
But seriously, it's become all too common for goals to bounce off the goalie, or for the goalie's autosave to completely miss an otherwise saveable goal. It's a hard position to play in the game, no doubt. The hardest, arguably. But when it feels like the goalie is fighting your general instincts on goals, it can be a challenge.
This is another one of those "I want changes, but not sure what I want implemented" type things. Sometimes I'm angrily shouting at my screen because my glove hand didn't move, and I wish I could do it manually. But I know you can't just add that without adding another thumbstick on the controller, and even then I couldn't imagine that working well. If anything, I just want the autosaving to be improved, and more realistic. I get it bad goals happen, but it's so frustrating to see even elite competitive goalies just completely miss point-blank shots that trickle in somehow. Give the goalies the benefit of the doubt more often.
- Tripping seemed fixed early in the game's lifespan, only to get ruined back to NHL 21 levels after early updates. Come on!
- Server issues are way too common. I get multiplayer online games can be a rough thing to deal with, but how is it that playing another team in your own city can sometimes result in a disconnect when both parties have good connection?
- Pass reception is still a mess. Passing was different in NHL 22, and while some people loved it, many hated it. When simple, easy passes are missed at no fault of the player, it can be so frustrating, especially when the puck just rolls underneath a player's stick despite being in good position. That's more of a 3-on-3 issue, but a bad one at that.
- I'm not totally convinced GM Connected would be a success, as it wasn't that great the first time around, but I'd like to see it return with a more eSports-focused aspect. It's continuously one of the most requested features, and something I could see happening at some point.
- Seems like people want to see more player celebrations. Honestly, why not?