EA Sports dropped a bunch of information regarding NHL 22, including a trailer you can watch above.
Let’s begin with the nuts-and-bolts NHL 22 information, then delve into some other aspects.
NHL 22 release date, Matthews on cover, trailer, and more
EA Sports announced that NHL 22 will release on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series console on Oct. 15.
After gracing the cover of NHL 20, Auston Matthews returns as the cover athlete for NHL 22. Because it’s the Internet, there were complaints about Matthews being on the cover again. There’s precedent for this, however. Alex Ovechkin has been a cover star more than once, and even did so for both the EA NHL and defunct NHL2K series. (Somehow, hockey fans survived such treason.)
Jonathan Toews donned more than one EA NHL cover, too. (Patrick Kane was going to join him as a two-time cover star, until, uh, he did not.)
Again, you can watch the NHL 22 release trailer in the video above this post’s headline.
NHL 22 first EA NHL game to use ‘Frostbite’ engine
For a specific group of hockey video game fans, the lure of the “Frostbite” engine was real. While FIFA and Madden games used the engine, EA NHL did not.
In the jump to the next-generation of consoles, NHL 22 will be the first game in the series to use that “Frostbite” engine. The trailer gives a taste of what that might look like. That said, what really matters is how it actually plays. (We didn’t really get much of a glimpse of how this all affects the typical overhead camera used for moment-to-moment gameplay.)
So, “Frostbite” was something EA NHL fans were clamoring for. It will be interesting to see if it’s a “Be careful what you wish for” situation.
Back in 2019, Mike Williams of US Gamer detailed some of the problems EA developers encountered with the “Frostbite” engine. The short version: it was something designed mostly for first-person shooter games. When development teams tried to do different things with the engine, they struggled.
Now, the company’s been using Frostbite for a long time, so maybe they ironed out the wrinkles. We’ll see around NHL 22’s Oct. 15 release date (and maybe sooner, via early access and other factors).
Either way, if it’s a bumpy ride, people will make plenty of jokes.
First look at NHL 22 pic.twitter.com/QLbjJs9HXH
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) August 13, 2021
‘Superstar X-factors’ aims to make stars feel like real-life counterparts
One common complaint about EA NHL games is that players feel too “samey.” Aside from player ratings, you rarely felt much of a difference between using Auston Matthews, some other superstar, or a player who is merely average.
NHL 22 claims to make superstars “distinctly feel like their real-life counterparts.” That’s another wait-and-see deal, as the series aimed for such improvements before, only for tweaks to feel subtle at most.
(There’s even a potential drawback if the changes really work. After all, would a superstar in the most skilled hands throw off the balance of competition? Making games = complicated.)
Another bumpy jump to the next generation?
Memorably, the EA NHL series struggled when consoles jumped last generation (for example: Playstation 3 to Playstation 4).
With NHL 14, EA NHL didn’t make the jump. Instead, they waited for NHL 15, a game that was slammed for having missing features.
One wouldn’t expect EA Sports to advertise if NHL 22 will miss any features. Some of that might boil down to just how ambitious this jump to a “next generation” really will be. If you played NHL 21 and other recent iterations, you’ll realize that the games are jam-packed with game modes and features.
Perhaps the changes will be mostly gradual, including … whatever this means:
Custom EASHL builds are back for #NHL22. This was one of our most highly requested features and a direct result of your feedback. The addition of X-Factors adds a whole new layer of creativity and customization that you’ve never had before. Will have A LOT more info on this soon.
— Clappy (@TheClapperton) August 19, 2021
Anyway, it’s good to have release date (Oct. 15) and other bits of information about NHL 22. We’ll see if the changes translate to a better, prettier game soon enough.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.