After a long awaited update, EA sports’ NHL 22 has finally introduced all female rosters. As of late January 2022, the game’s latest version now includes several International Ice Hockey Federation teams with some of the world’s biggest stars.
This is not the first time a female player has made an appearance in the NHL franchise. Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser and the USA’s Angela Ruggiero were featured as individuals back in NHL 13. It is, however, the first time that gamers have access to entirely female rosters.
As of right now players have access to 10 IIHF teams: Canada, Czechia (Czech Republic), Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and the USA. While the North American teams are a known powerhouse in the hockey world, each team has something special to offer the game.
Featured are some of the world’s leading female players such as Marie-Philip Poulin of Canada, Hilary Knight of the United States, Jenni Hiirikoski of Finland and many more.
Just as fans have come to expect from the game series, the overall gameplay is very fluid. While the women’s play realistically differs from the men’s, the adjustments that were made keep the game fun. If you’re used to blowing people up along the boards, this mode will be a change of pace. The gameplay relies more heavily on defense which is a fantastic representation of women’s hockey.
The immediate impression of the new players is that they are incredibly skilled. The variety of players feel true to their skillset with the top female players feeling like top players as you play.
The overall player ratings are adjusted with the top female players ranking highly. Opposed to male players which seem to all be ranked against Connor McDavid, the female rosters are ranked amongst their peers in international women’s hockey. Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin comes in at 94 overall which is a perfect translation of her skill.
Visually, it is a treat to see all the IIHF jerseys true to design. The official partnership between EA and the IIHF brings the whole experience together. While the graphics of the NHL games have always been top tier, the realistic jerseys truly make gamers feel connected to their teams.
In addition, the inclusion of 10 international teams is a fantastic decision by EA to embrace the diverse world of hockey. This is a great step toward representation for everyone and another way to make hockey more inclusive.
As individuals, the diversity of players is a great opportunity for hockey fans to get to know the female stars of the world on a new level. As their talents are on full display, gamers get the opportunity to discover up and coming international players as well as learn more about women’s style of hockey in general.
This new game mode opens the door to many future possibilities and is a perfect way for the female demographic to have its own representation.
Areas for improvement
The most noticeable mistake is that the goalies currently do not have masks. While this is obviously a glitch and should be fixed shortly, it adds a funny little something extra.
In terms of gameplay, Canada and the USA are very clearly top tier of the sport on the women’s side and therefore dominant in the game.
However, the few true stars on other teams are well done and can be hard to play against. Going forward, it would be ideal to see equal focus to the players on teams outside of North America and better recognize the talent pool throughout the globe.
While no game is perfect, the IIHF women’s mode does not have many faults. As a new beginning for the franchise, the possibilities are endless to improve every detail.
Overall, the women’s IIHF World Championship is a solid game mode that offers something new to all fans of the franchise.