NHL 23

What We Learned About NHL 23

So we’ve seen EA Vancouver attempt to make history with the franchise’s first two-person cover, but what will the game bring to move things forward this year? Here’s what we know so far.

After completing a rookie season on EA’s Frostbite engine, where the goal was to see if utilizing a new engine could improve player motion, Frostbite is back for a second season to show that the NHL development team has learned some new tricks.

NHL 23’s Animations Get A Refresh

Let’s start where it all matters most: the celly! Last year’s developments in character animations have been improved even more to offer hundreds of unique celebrations for achieving some of hockey’s toughest accomplishments. Experience electrifying new OT winners, a hat trick, and shootout celebrations that capitalize on a crowd that’s more aware of what you’re doing than ever before.

In the same vein of being more aware of what you do, Frostbite’s AI is tweaked this year to offer greater control of the puck. There are 500 new animations known as “Last Chance Puck Movements” that are broken down into categories on the shooter and the stopper side of the puck.

Find your way to the highlight reel by mastering making the most of your stumbles. For those looking to score, you can now attempt a pass or shot after taking any level of contact. Turn any loose puck into an opportunity by double-tapping the pass or shoot button to put the puck on the net as you fall. If you’re on defence, do the same: clear the puck and be a hero in front of the net.

And for goalies — AI or otherwise — there are now over 350 new save animations with 50 incredible moves deemed “Desperation Saves.”

Hockey Ultimate Team adds IIHF women’s national team members

Now to the big changes to Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT), IIHF women’s national team members can now play alongside men in a HUT lineup. There are also new base and master items to earn through season events for both men and women. HUT Rivals rewards also now feature three exclusive tiers of rewards tied to wins or win streaks.

HUT Rivals will also get a refresh with a number of new rotating game themes. At the time of writing, we haven’t seen any of these. 

For those looking for news on this being the year where “Franchise” and other single-player content gets a facelift, it won’t come in the form of “Be A Pro.” However, EA Vancouver has teased a new “Franchise” with infinite customization. Including adjustments to the numbers of teams, games played, divisions, conferences, playoff rounds, league salary cap, and more. I can see this being an addition welcomed by league historians and newcomers alike. It was sold to us as the ultimate level of ability to build the NHL of yesterday or imagine yourself as the commissioner of a future NHL number of teams, and salary cap, are all up to you. 

Lastly, as part of an update planned for November, players will have access to stronger cross-platform matchmaking. When playing “World of Chel” and “Hut,” players will be part of a pool of players on the same system, thus speeding up the matchmaking process. The team at EA Vancouver said in the presentation that this is a feature fan have been asking about for quite a few years now, and the team is excited to deliver.

NHL 23 skates onto Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on October 14, 2022.