With next gen getting such focus in Madden 22, EA Sports could borrow innovations like Dynamic Gameday to spice up NHL 22.
NHL 22 needs to make an impact on next gen
Last year, EA Sports chose not to develop NHL 21 as a next gen title or take advantage of next gen technology.
With resources likely already spread thin at the time due to the global pandemic and the pressure of releasing a next gen version of Madden 21 four months after the initial game launch, it's not that surprising.
Their NHL series remains a huge staple for fans, but likely wasn't the priority as Madden has a significantly larger player base by comparison.
With a full development cycle for NHL 22 that includes access to next gen hardware, we should see them finally capitalize on next gen this year.
To get an idea of how they might do that, we can look to what we've learned so far about the release of Madden 22 this August.
Madden 22 introduces Dynamic Gameday for next gen only
Madden 22 has a plethora of upgrades and new features this year, but none stands out quite as much as the brand new Dynamic Gameday mechanic.
Each team gets a unique home field advantage based on their team history, fan base, and at times based on the environment and construction of the stadium itself.
While it would need to be adapted, a similar mechanic could see major success in NHL 22, and EA Sports needs to make it happen.
What would Dynamic Gameday look like in NHL 22?
One of the biggest factors in Dynamic Gameday is a new Gameday Momentum meter which measures the impact of big plays on the flow of the game.
With hockey being a particularly low-scoring game when compared to football, that meter would need some adjustments for sure, but it's something that could fit well in NHL 22.
Whereas Madden 22 at times takes cues from the location like the outdoor environments in Denver and Chicago or the massive jumbotron in Dallas, NHL 22 would need to lean more heavily on team history and the power of the crowd.
Weather is less likely to be a factor with the NHL operating almost exclusively indoors, but that indoor environment can make crowd noise even more impactful.
Momentum can lead to a variety of bonuses in Madden 22 that are unique to specific stadiums, such as interfering with audibles or improved catching.
NHL 22 would need their own versions of these boosts, but choosing ways to augment play shouldn't be too difficult.
Next Gen Stats is likely to make an appearance
While Dynamic Gameday would definitely be the best way that NHL 22 can make an immediate impact on next gen, the most likely thing it'll take from Madden 22 is Next Gen Stats.
That feature took an upgrade this year with Next Gen Stats: Star-Driven AI, which uses real-world data about the personalities and playing tendencies of both teams and individual players to adjust how the AI will play as the season goes on.
It's a concept that's great on paper, but doesn't have quite the same impact when playing the game.
However, the addition of some form of Next Gen Stats could still be a solid first step as NHL 22 starts to make their way into the next gen era.