There are many different ways to choose which NHL team you support. Some people support their local team, others support a team because of a player who made them fall in love with the game, and some support the team their family has been supporting for generations.
When it comes to me, I support a team because of the simple fact that I had a pyjama with their logo on it when I was a kid, GO SHARKS GO! It might sound like a silly way to pick a team, but I was 8 and let's be honest the Sharks logo does look amazing.
It was only a couple of years later that I started getting into ice hockey, as I'm from Portugal and the most popular kind of hockey we play over here doesn't even take place on the ice.
The NHL video game was a big reason that I started to get more interested in the sport. It helped me to learn the rules of the game, and get familiar with the teams, players, and the magic of Ice Hockey.
NHL holds a very special place in my heart, so I got excited when NHL 24 announced they were introducing a plethora of new features. After playing the game for a good amount of time I can safely say that this might not be the best NHL game ever, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
So, let’s dive into our NHL 24 review, and see where the game sinks and swims.
NHL went all in on their new gameplay features, introducing many huge changes that would either make or break the game. Fortunately, NHL 24 got most of it right and delivers a refreshing gameplay experience, that is an almost perfect blend of simulation and arcade.
The new passing system makes it much more intuitive and easy for new players to move the puck around. It's also extremely useful for counterattacks and to quickly get the puck to a desired player.
At the same time, keeping the option to pass by holding the R2 or RT button was a smart choice, as most veteran players are used to this, and it also provides the option to do some unique passes.
The new physics-based contact system allows players to perform new actions, such as throwing opponents over the barriers, or breaking the glass when two players collide into it.
The hit system is also the most realistic it has ever been, and hitting a player with a shove or body check against the barricade feels incredible. However, it's a more high-risk high-reward mechanic, as if you don't connect them, you will be out of position. This can lead to a dangerous counterattack or a scoring opportunity for your opponent.
One of the things that I have mixed thoughts about is the new Exhaust Engine feature. This feature rewards "extended offensive events and attack zone time". By keeping the puck in the attacking zone long enough, players will activate the Sustained Pressure perk, which will decrease the defender's attributes.
In a way, this makes the game more realistic and exciting, providing players with more scoring opportunities, and rewarding an offensive style of play. At the same time, players can just choose to hold the puck in the corner and wait for the Sustained Pressure perk to activate, allowing them to score incredibly easy goals.
NHL 24 also introduced many new goal celebrations and ways to show highlights. These celebrations give a new flair to the game and also help players get more immersed in it.
More intuitve controls
Say goodbye to the Hybrid and the NHL 94 Controls options, and welcome Total Controls. This new control system is catered to new players or the ones that prefer a more arcade experience.
Total Controls allow players to perform skills moves with just the click of a button, which has its advantages and disadvantages. For new players, it's incredible, as it makes it much easier to perform skills that would otherwise take players a long time to learn.
At the same time, it removes some of the skill aspect of the game, making it too easy to perform difficult moves. The Skil Sitck still offers you more control over your player and his actions, but there are certainly some advantages to using the Total Controls, especially if you are new to the game.
New year same mode
Unfortunately, not everything is great in NHL 24 and the Be a Pro mode proves just that. The mode stayed pretty much the same, with the same storyline and dialogues.
Be a Pro shows a gigantic incapability of captivating the player and providing an immersive experience. It doesn't make you feel like you are living the NHL dream, or are experiencing a unique storyline. It's a stale mode, that despite one or two new features, it delivers the same experience it has for years.
The dialogue scenes are something that EA Sports should have addressed a long time ago. It makes no sense for you to be talking with your coach, choosing the answers to the dialogue, and only after the dialogue ends do you see the two characters interact.
For all of its problems, this is something that NBA 2K24 does very well and makes the mode feel much more realistic and immersive. The characters are actually talking to you, and you can hear them and see how they express themselves.
EA Sports is full of talented developers, so I'm sure they can make this happen. I just wonder why they still haven't addressed such a glaring issue. Solving this would easily make the Be a Pro mode more immersive, captivating, and authentic.
Changes make HUT interesting
HUT introduced some great changes this year, such as the market being cross-platform now, the brand new HUT moments game mode, and the revamped objective feature, which allows you to track objectives progress in real-time.
However, HUT continues to be a "pay-to-win" mode, where if you don't have the best cards it will be hard to compete. Despite that, the mode still offers players many ways to earn coins, packs, or good cards that they can use to build their squad around.
Veteran NHL players are already used to how HUT works, and they know that for "free-to-play" users it's an uphill battle. But the mode is still pretty fun to play, and it definitely has its pros.
For example, HUT Moments does a great job of captivating the essence of some of the most important moments in NHL history. It allows players to relive them and it does so in quite an immersive way. Furthermore, players earn great rewards after completing each moment.
The cross-platform market, and the ability to track the objectives' progress in real-time, are two huge quality-of-life additions. It makes it easier for users to know which objectives they have completed, and the ones they are close to completing while in a game.
HUT still has some problems it needs to address, but the changes it implemented in NHL 24 are mostly positive.
More microtransactions, less fun
World of Chel is arguably the most popular mode in the NHL franchise and EA Sports is well aware of that. So aware that in typical EA Sports fashion, they managed to make the game even more "pay-to-win" by adding some more microtransaction options.
NHL 24 introduced the World of Chel Battle Pass, which includes plenty of rewards, such as sticks, helmets, jerseys, XP, and even a special player class. The Battle Pass will be free for all players in Season 1, but after that, players will have to pay to have access to this type of content.
This means that many users will be locked out of a ton of rewards. The player classes and play styles will still be on the free path of the Battle Pass, but despite that, the introduction of a premium Battle Pass incentivises players to spend more money on the game, which is not something the NHL community likes.
World of Chel is a fun mode to play with friends, but these microtransactions take away that fun. The gameplay is great, the new 3v3 casual mode is quite fun, and the changes to the 3v3 Playoff format were great, making the games feel much more important.
However, it's hard to look past more microtransaction options being put in the game to suck as much money from the players as possible.
NHL 24 is a step in the right direction for the franchise. The gameplay is incredible, being the most realistic and authentic ever, and also quite fun. Revamping the physics-based contact system and introducing a new passing system were two spectacular moves, that added a new layer to the gameplay.
Depending on what side of the fence you sit on, the Exhaust Engine feature can be seen as great or awful for the game. I will say it's definitely an interesting feature that can make games much more exciting.
Be a Pro is a stale mode that needs major changes as fast as possible. Hopefully, the developer's team of NHL 25 is already working on them, because they can't come soon enough.
NHL 24 introduced some good features to Hut, but the mode is still "pay-to-win". Despite that, you can still have fun building your team and testing your skills against other players. The HUT moments mode is something every player should try out, as it delivers an immersive and fun experience.
When it comes to World of Chel, as mentioned above, the mode is the most "pay-to-win" it has ever been, and fans aren't really happy about that. Even with the good changes that were implemented, such as the format change in the playoffs, or the introduction of a 3v3 casual mode, World of Chel doesn't provide users with the most enjoyable experience.
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