Tanner breaks down and reviews EA Sports NHL 20

It’s time for another NHL! This installment showcases Maple Leafs star, Austin Matthews, on the cover. The NHL games are some of my favorite and I was anxiously awaiting to play this one, as I am for any of the previous year installments. This time around we saw a new skating mechanic that hasn’t been seen before in previous years, while also adding some new game modes and cosmetic items to the World of Chel game mode, that hardly anyone plays.

NHL has been one of my favorite games for many years, but at the same time, I have been disappointed with the development team throughout maybe the past 5 years or so. This year is no different in that regard. The game itself plays and feels smoother than it has since maybe NHL 13, but I’m left thinking the development team could have done more. There aren’t many options when it comes to NHL games, so you sit around each year and hope that EA Sports can come up with a variety of changes and game modes that are better than the years passed. You notice, yet again with NHL 20, that not much has changed to REALLY catch your attention.

The skating mechanics are the biggest change this year, and they have changed for the better. You will notice, almost instantly, that you’re able to change directions and accept passes on the fly way more fluently than you ever have been. This change makes for faster-paced games and more excitement throughout. You’re now able to set up plays and do a variety of different offensive and defensive plays you couldn’t do in years past. The only issue with this is that you’re left thinking this is a change that should have been implemented in previous games, or at least with a patch update in the previous year of EA Sports NHL.

What About World of Chel Changed In NHL 20?

The next big change was with World of Chel. You’re now able to play a game mode called Ones Eliminator, which puts you up against over 80 players in a tournament-style 1v1v1. You’ll play against two other opponents for upwards of 4 rounds before being crowned the champion. This was a fun mode, but again I’m left thinking this to be just a minor change in a game mode they could have done so much more with. This game mode also has an issue with finding players and you’re left waiting for long periods of time to find not only two other players in the game mode, but players also in the same round as you. The majority of players play Hockey Ultimate Team, EASHL, or Versus. Since the fan base focuses more of their time with these game modes, you’re left spending time searching for players in the Ones game mode, than actually playing it.

An issue I ran into was that if you get tired of waiting around to find two other players and you leave the tournament to go play something else, you end up forfeiting your spot in that tournament and ultimately end up getting a loss. I understand the reasoning for this, but at the same time, it aggravates me. You can’t expect the game to hold your spot in the tournament when the other 80 or so players are wanting to progress, but you also run into the issue of waiting to find these players sometimes. It’s just an overall disaster and EA Sports NHL needs to find a way to make this game mode more intriguing to players so this doesn’t continue to happen.

Another issue with the changes of World of Chel is with the changes in and of themselves – they’re minor. These changes aren’t anything that motivated me to get the game per say. I get this game because I’m a hockey fan and have no other options when it comes to playing a hockey game. I just think it’s funny that EA Sports would market this game in a way that World of Chel is one of their biggest changes when, for the most part, these changes could have been introduced to us in a patch in NHL 19. The majority of changes were cosmetic and I truly do not care about what my casual attire is when I hardly play the game mode to begin with. It’s all fine and good that there are more options, but don’t go using this as your main selling point. The marketing team at EA Sports are constantly saying that they listen to their fans and that the changes the people are asking for have finally arrived when a very low percentage of players even play the game mode they have focused most of their attention on.

What Fans Want In Upcoming NHL Games

The fans want a GM Connected mode, heavy changes to Franchise mode, or even the Frostbite engine integrated into their game. These are changes other EA titles have done, but for some reason, the NHL franchise has failed to do. It only takes a few minutes of reading forums and comment sections to realize what the fans want and yet, year end and year out, the development team keeps copy and pasting the same content. This franchise has some work to do in the next year if they want to be relevant in the sports gaming world. It’s only a matter of time before another NHL game comes to market and completely takes over EA Sports NHL’s fan base. I’ll be the first person in line to purchase another NHL, but for the time being, I am stuck playing the same cookie-cutter BS that continues to be produced each year.

NHL 20: Final Verdict

I try and be as professional as possible with my reviews, but the one review I feel strongly about is the NHL series. I type these particular reviews with more passion than others because the NHL franchise is what showcased me in the gaming community as a professional. The NHL games have made me want to compete in ways no other game could, so I expect more from this franchise than others. I’m hopeful that in the years to come we will eventually have all the wants addressed and we will get a hockey game we love like in years prior, but for the time being that’s just not happening. The skating mechanics this year will keep my attention long enough to skate into next year, but I’m expecting a lot of changes next year. These changes need to be a complete overhaul of gaming mechanics, graphics, and game modes. If these changes don’t happen, the sales for this game are going to tank heavily. After 10 hours of the EA Access early trial I do believe the game should be purchased because the skating mechanics did get better and that’s enough of a reason to purchase the game in my opinion, but not enough to thoroughly enjoy it. This game should be picked up when prices decline around Black Friday or Christmas 2019. If you’re not willing to wait that long, you’re able to pick up your copy when the Standard Edition launches on Tuesday, September 13. You’re able to play three days earlier (September 10, 2019) if you preorder the Deluxe or Ultimate Editions.

Other Articles

Jon breaks down and gives his thoughts on the first episode of Pennyworth
Gears of War 5