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NHL 22 Review – Superstar Letdown

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Each team depends on its star players to make a difference. These are the ones fans turn to when the pressure is on to play and win. The problem is, star players don’t always keep their promises, and when there isn’t enough extra talent around them, a team can quickly fall to the bottom of the leaderboards. NHL 22 makes the serious mistake of investing everything in the league’s elite talent to elevate the game across all modes, creating a whole system of abilities around them to showcase their most dangerous assets on the ice. The problem? These top players don’t have a huge impact on the game, and without any other significant additions fans have little to cheer on.

Inspired by EA’s Madden, EA Vancouver introduced this year’s Superstar X-Factors, which provides special skills to the best of the best. For example, Alexander Ovechkin has the “One Tee” ability, which not only gives him exceptional power and precision for one-time puck, but also increases his ability at less than ideal single passes. The X-Factors are a welcome effort to turn the metagame upside down, which hasn’t changed for some time, and I love the thought process behind them: raising awareness among players when these elite talents enter the world. ice cream and make them feel different. However, I never felt the defensive tension or the offensive power that X-Factors should provide. All the players – all-star or fourth in a row – still feel pretty similar on the ice, and that’s a big deal. The X-Factors, like the star players, should make a difference, but instead they’re just a little bit there, and I rarely felt like they were contributing to an awesome game destined for the reel. highlight. Where’s the fun in that?

Unfortunately, EA Vancouver has moved all in with X-Factors, adding them to most major modes as another big change and not much else to go along with them. Again, they’re not a major upset of the experience, which left me feeling like I played more of the same way. Sure, in franchise mode you want to target players with X-Factors in the draft, but the mode still has the boring trade deadline minigame, confusing player demands, and no way to really communicate direction. for the team to the coach.

Be a Pro, where you create your own rookie and get drafted into an NHL team, got a new coat of paint last year, and it looked like a promising start. Imagine my disappointment when the bland dialogue, half-baked salary benefits and lackluster events returned. You can gain X-Factor abilities by playing games and hitting certain milestones, but even after unlocking a few I didn’t feel like they made a huge difference in my game. I’ve also been frustrated that the conversation system always makes you choose between being a ‘star’ or a ‘team’ player, and your responses to being a star are something any real coach would question. player to say it. Plus, the mode still lacks meaningful events to keep the NHL season exciting for the long haul.

The only place I felt X-Factors had improved the game was in the EASHL of World of CHEL, as they allowed me to build a player more suited to my style. I play powerful forward and have the “Unstoppable Force” X factor, which makes it hard to knock me off the puck, even when I’m off balance. I also like that when you pick a position you can redistribute some of your stat points. I hate how slow forward power is, so I was happy to sacrifice some of my slap accuracy for extra speed. EA has balanced this out, so some valuable skills like speed cost more points than others, but I like that it encourages you to experiment with a version that works best for you. The only possible negative is that it seems much easier to score this year in EASHL. Most of the games I played ended up getting high scores and my stats felt padded from previous years. I don’t mind feeling the euphoria of scoring more, but I’ve seen a lot of questionable goals like weak wrists come in.

The overall gameplay looks a bit different from last year, with a more realistic and slower pace. Body controls seem well balanced; there were only a few occasions where I felt knocked down too easily. However, the poke check remains overkill, especially since it is easy to spam without incurring penalties, even when playing online. Hockey players certainly check, but it’s not used to that degree in the real NHL. Also, the puck can be difficult to follow, especially around the corners, which has been a problem in the past but is even worse this year.

I also encountered some technical shortcomings, such as the disappearance of my player indicator, the appearance of star NHL players on my minor league roster, and glitchy animations. PS5 users are treated with haptic feedback, along with goal songs, coach controls, and puck sounds going through the controller. At first, it’s a neat little feature, but it quickly wears out its welcome. Worse yet, it can’t be turned off unless you exit the game and into the PS5’s settings, which is a huge oversight.

Sports teams are built around their main players, rarely making radical changes until the inevitable rebuilding must occur. Sports games are no different; each year offers a chance to improve a mode or feature, but at some point more significant changes need to be made to the foundations before things get stale. The Superstar X-Factors were one attempt in that direction, but EA Vancouver ultimately failed to make them impact the game in an exciting and meaningful way. The lack of a critical eye on the different modes doesn’t help either. Truth be told, playing NHL 22 is like watching a predictable team. On the one hand, it’s heartwarming to know what to expect. On the other hand, it’s not fun to see the same pieces over and over again.

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