As we near September and the start of NHL training camps, EA Sports has released a trailer for NHL 24, its latest instalment of the franchise. EA has been making NHL video games since 1991. Back then, the console of play was the Sega Genesis, and cover athlete was Glenn Healy. 32 years later, EA didn’t really shock anyone with the announcement for NHL 24, but there are still some cool new features and details that we should get into. Let’s start with the cover athlete.
NHL 24 cover athlete
Calgary’s very own Cale Makar is the cover athlete for NHL 24. This marks the first time a defenceman has been on the cover since P.K. Subban for NHL 19. Before that, Dion Phaneuf was featured on the cover of NHL 09. Other defenceman to grace the cover are Chris Pronger and Scott Stevens.
Cale Makar is the first Calgary-born player to find himself on the cover of an NHL game. I like the choice of Makar as cover athlete, and the action shot is really nice. Makar has had such a successful career in such a short time, being a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, and Norris Trophy winner already.
Available platforms for NHL 24
NHL 24 will once again be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Many fans were clamouring for NHL to return to PC for the first time since the late 2000s, but EA is sticking with the four usual consoles. However, cross-play is now fully available for all four consoles, which is a major step. Players will be able to play with other same-generation consoles in all online modes. This means players on PS5 and Xbox Series X can play together, which PS4 and Xbox One players can play together.
New features and gameplay in NHL 24
Cross-play marketplaces in HUT
HUT (Hockey Ultimate Team) gets a big change with cross-platformed marketplaces. Previously, there was one market for Xbox Series X, one for PS4, and so on. This made it frustrating for HUT players. This year, cross-play will also come into effect for the HUT marketplace. This means there will be only be two HUT marketplaces (one for Xbox Series X and PS5, another for PS4 and Xbox One) instead of four different marketplaces. This will make the overall amount of cards and items available for purchase larger.
World of Chel re-work
The World of Chel gets a re-work, with a battle-pass style system taking over for the cosmetic “hockey bags” you could purchase in previous games. These hockey bags contained things like helmets, jerseys, visors, etc., that you could add to your created player to customize and make them look cooler. Now, a battle-pass gives players the ability to work through a pass and gain rewards. Some aren’t fans of battle-pass systems, because it can promote a ‘pay-to-win’ system with a free tier and paid tier. For things like consumables, I don’t think there’s much downside, given one player having a cool tinted visor wouldn’t make them any better at the game.
A new aspect to gameplay is the exhaust engine. Just as we see in the actual NHL, teams begin to tire in the defensive end if the other team is working circles around them. This will be brought into NHL 24, where extensive pressure and zone time will benefit the attacking team. The defensive team will begin to wear down the longer the attacking team has the puck and is making plays in the offensive zone. Similarly, goalies will also start to wear out if they start to face a high amount of shot volume or offensive pressure. A goalie’s save ability will decrease with the amount of shot volume and offensive zone pressure thrown towards him.
There’s really nothing better than inviting your little cousin to play NHL with you, and you spend 30 minutes winding up and crushing them every time they touch the puck. With new physics-based hitting, animations for hitting and body checks are more realistic. Other new features added are the ability to hit an opposing player into the bench, and really big hits near the boards breaking the glass. Look out little cousins, your big cousins are going to wind up even further for hits.
New controls/passing systems
Passing also got a re-work in NHL 24. With the new vision passing system, mapping passes is more effective, leading to more direct passes and flexibility to pass around the ice faster than before. Controls for gameplay have also been updated, so you can choose to remain with the “skill stick” or try some new controls.
There are also new goal celebrations, new dynamic boards, and Cheryl Pounder is joining the booth as a colour commentator.
New year, new gameplay improvements
This wasn’t the biggest announcement by any means, as fans still seek improvements to Franchise Mode with GM Connected. Fans were also looking for NHL 24 to be available on PC. However, it seems that NHL 24 will see improved gameplay and increased incorporation of cross platform play, which will only improve the NHL fanbase and market. NHL 24 is set to release on October 6th, which is five days before the Flames begin their regular season with a game against the Winnipeg Jets. Ordering the X-Factor Edition will allow you to start playing NHL 24 on October 3, three days of early access.
Image courtesy of EA Sports