NHL 21: Review in Progress, First Impressions, Early Access, Gameplay, New Features, Release Date, Franchise Mode, Be A Pro, HUT, Trailer & more

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NHL 21 is merely days from launch, and we've got our initial thoughts on the game together for our review in progress!

Players can hop right into NHL 21 thanks to early access from the EA Play trial as well as pre-ordering the Deluxe and Great Eight editions of the game.

Here's all the latest around EA's newest hockey sim.

Latest News - NHL 21 Review In Progress

We haven't yet had enough time with the game for our NHL 21 review to be finalized, but we have broken down how the new features feel in the game so far here!

NHL 21 Stanley Cup
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TOP OF THE LINE: NHL 21 could be EA's Stanley Cup, with many new positive changes

Thus far, our perspective is limited due to servers not yet being up. But this doesn't stop us from experiencing single player HUT content, the massive Be A Pro overhaul, major Franchise mode changes, and more.

And from these game modes, we expect NHL 21 to be a great pickup for hockey fans.

First Impressions

Now that we've had some time to play NHL 21 via early access, we've covered how the new gameplay changes feel.

You can read over our first impressions of the game here, where we break down the new Be A Pro, Franchise Mode, HUT, World of Chel, and gameplay changes.

Early Access

Those with the Early Access editions of NHL 21 can now play the game!

If you want to try it before you buy then you can play NHL 21 now via early access from the EA Play 10-hour trial!

NHL 21 EA Play Trial Early Access
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HIT THE ICE: NHL 21 is now playable through EA Play

You can get this early access by subscribing to EA Play for $4.99 a month, and the trial has no limitations outside of its 10-hour time limit.

That means players can get a head start in HUT, or their careers in Be A Pro and Franchise modes.

Release Date

NHL 21 will release on Friday, 16 October, with the Deluxe and Great Eight Editions offering 3 days of early access.

READ MORE: NHL 21 pre-order now live!

Gameplay Trailer

EA has given us a gameplay trailer, and there is a lot of new things coming.


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For players that didn't get to enjoy the closed beta technical test, this will be the first taste of NHL 21 gameplay, so you won't want to miss it!

Be A Pro Trailer Reveals New Features

The NHL 21 Be A Pro Trailer has arrived, and with it comes several new feature announcements!

NHL 21 Be A Pro Scores Likeability Followers
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CONSEQUENCES: Your choices in NHL 21 Be A Pro will shape your career

The first of these new features includes an all-new conversation system with hundreds of conversations and thousands of choices that will affect relationships with teammates, coaches, and media. These will change things like frequency your teammates pass the puck, play time, and more.

There are also new season stories which will challenge players differently depending on their trajectory.

Franchise Mode Updates Revealed

The latest NHL 21 updates from EA covered some major improvements to Franchise Mode.

NHL 21 Franchise Mode Features
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KNOCK EM DOWN: Franchise Mode changes join a long list of upgrades coming with NHL 21

We expected some big changes in the classic game mode to catch up with the rest of sports gaming, and follow through on EA's promise to focus on current-gen features over next-gen exclusives.

And while we could've gotten more, some important changes are coming.

READ MORE: NHL 21: Alexander Ovechkin is the First Rating Reveal

These changes include trade deadline updates, draft class customization, better trade value assessment, stat record keeping, and more.

Cover Star

For the second time in his illustrious career, Alexander Ovechkin will be the cover star for an NHL game. Ovechkin was also the first NHL 21 rating reveal!

A lot has changed for Ovi since he was last on the cover for NHL 07, including finally bringing a Stanley Cup to Washington.

Price & Editions

NHL 21 is listed with a price of $59.99, however, that is just for the Standard Edition.

The next edition available is the Deluxe Edition, listed at $79.99.

NHL 21 Great Eight Edition
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LEGENDS: The Great Eight Edition honors hockey legends and offers big rewards

The third and final edition is the Great Eight Edition, listed at $99.99.

All of the editions come with some pre-order bonuses.

NHL 94 Rewind

EA has announced a new game mode players can hop into on 30 October by pre-ordering NHL 21, NHL 94 Rewind!

NHL 94 Rewind NHL 21 1
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RETRO: NHL 21 players can take a trip to the past with NHL 94 Rewind

The game mode is a throwback for veteran hockey gamers, pairing the current roster with controls and graphics from 1994.

Ratings Reveals

We've gotten a good amount of important NHL 21 ratings reveals so far!

patrice bergeron nhl 21 rating
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ELITE: Some of the best NHL 21 players have already had their ratings revealed

These include Sydney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeni Malkin, and plenty more.

Rewards for Playing NHL 20

EA have announced a new rewards program that offer NHL 21 points and other rewards for playing NHL 20!

The first cosmetic rewards can be earned simply by logging into NHL 20, but the rest will have to be earned playing HUT.

Feature Reveal Roadmap

Thanks to a roadmap from EA, we know which NHL 21 features are coming next!

nhl 21 update schedule
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With the Be A Pro Trailer coming 1 October, we're down to just the Franchise Mode reveal left!

HUT RUSH Revealed

NHL 21 HUT RUSH is coming to shake HUT, and we now have a full list of features.

These features include new game modes, style point scoring, outdoor arenas, rankings, playable mascots, and more.

You can read our full breakdown here!

No Next-Gen Version

NHL 21 is the first EA sports title not to feature a next-gen edition.

ALL IN ON CURRENT-GEN: EA's focus is on playability this year
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ALL IN ON CURRENT-GEN: EA's focus is on playability this year

This frees up the team to add plenty of new gameplay features for release on Xbox One and PS4.

READ MORE: NHL 21's focus on innovation over next-gen features will be a huge boost

NHL 21 will still be playable on next-gen consoles thanks to forward-compatibility, but it will not be receiving PS5 and Xbox Series X releases with next-gen exclusive features. This should emphasize the game's quality on initial release for current-gen consoles.

World of Chel

The World of Chel game mode is one of the more unique in the NHL series, and allows players to build up their very own created characters.

GROWTH: Build up your created character in World of Chel to dominate the ice in more personal games
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GROWTH: Build up your created character in World of Chel to dominate the ice in more personal games

World of Chel has plenty of different ways to play, most involving small team games like 3v3 - which helps separate gameplay from the other modes.

A new Ranked Seasons will allow players to compete across new modes - ones, threes, drop-in or Clubs - to earn rewards and play in the new EASHL Club Finals.

Chel Notes Released

EA has released their Chel Notes for NHL 21, where you can see some of the awesome improvements they've made to the game.

Take a look at them in full right here.

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