NHL '22 Announcement: What You Need to Know

Auston Matthews, Frostbite, Superstar X Factor, and more

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Latest EA NHL Version Has Some Fancy Upgrades 

Nuts and Bolts: We got a jolt to our August hockey news lull last Thursday when EA announced the release date of its latest puck installment, NHL ‘22. Dropping on October 15 — just three days after the real season kicks off — EA gave us many tidbits to digest. 

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of it:

The trailer: While there wasn’t much in terms of actual game play, the trailer they released looks sharp. Many of the new features (see below) can be seen here. 

Consoles: NHL ‘22 is set for release on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One. Once again, there is no PC release planned, so if you were one of the many fans clamoring for that, you’re out of luck again.

Cover Art: Auston Matthews graces the cover for the second time in his career, first doing so in 2020. For those arguing for more variety, there have been other multi-cover athletes, including Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin, who was on the cover for both EA hockey and the now discontinued NHL 2K series. 

This and that:

  • James Cybulski and Ray Ferraro return as commentators

  • The Seattle Kraken make their inaugural series appearance

  • For the first time ever, EA has added a franchise mode, allowing you to create a 33rd team, if you so choose

Fancy Features: With the basics down, let’s dive into a few new staples of this year’s version — for better or worse. 

Frostbite

For the first time in its NHL series, EA is using DICE’s frostbite engine. This is their exclusive graphics engine, and the same one they use for their FIFA and Madden enterprises. After seeing how well frostbite looked in the soccer and football versions, there was a lot of hope it would be added to NHL. The trailer does give a brief glimpse into how it looks — Frostbite has an emphasis on improved lighting, graphics, and objects — but most will reserve judgement until gameplay is tested. 

A word of warning: When EA first tried frostbite in 2019, there were some kinks — frostbite was originally designed for first person shooter games. But, they’ve had time to work out those kinks, and here’s hoping they have.  

Superstar X Factor

What seems to be the biggest addition to the game is the Superstar X Factor. Some complaints about past versions included that there wasn’t enough differentiation between using a star player and an average player. EA has introduced Superstart X Factor to address that. 

It aims to separate the best players, giving them extra room, space, and pizazz to shine in the biggest moment. Superstar X Factor is also subdivided this into “zone” and “superstar” abilities. Zone is more powerful, and each eligible player is assigned one specific aspect. For Auston Matthews, his is called “shock and awe.”
We’ll have to wait until we play the game, but it sounds promising. There are reportedly 100 players that fall under either of the “X Factor” categories, including some goalies. 

Bumpy Jump to Next Generation? It’s considered a win that EA made the game available on the new and past generations of Playstation and Xbox. But we don’t have to go too far back to recall the slightly bumpy jump the game made from PS3 to PS4. 

The only real way to tell is to play the game. And we can’t do that until October 15 (October 12 with Early Access). Just like with the rest of summer for hockey fans, we can get excited about the new season, but ultimately just need to wait and see. 

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