Big changes are coming to EA’s hockey sim with NHL 24‘s updated gameplay, goalies AI, presentation, and expressive World of Chel mode. In fact, it might all coalesce into something that might make this year’s installment the best time for hockey fans to get back onto the ice. Last year’s NHL 23 was praised for its updated visuals and bombastic crowds, the latter of which helped capture the excitement of being at a real hockey game. However, EA’s NHL 24 improves on those aspects even further while also updating its presentation and gameplay with an impressive Exhaust Engine to help the hockey simulator series reach new levels of intensity.

Although NHL 24 will be released on current- and last-generation consoles on October 6, 2023, that isn’t holding EA Vancouver back from delivering a visually stunning hockey game. Hockey player information, including stats, number of assists, and even stamina meters can now all be seen laid over the ice to keep users informed in ways that watching a live game doesn’t always do. However, new NHL 24 gameplay mechanics are what the developers are most confident will attract players who haven’t played a hockey sim in the last few years.

Exhausted Players Can Perform Fist Pumping Miracles Like No Other

Screenshot from NHL 24 shows player Matthew Tkachuk standing ready with his hockey stick at the ready. Lighting the game reflects off his helmet's visor, and the stands are packed with screaming fans.

The new Exhaust Engine is a mechanic that adds another layer of intensity to the hard-hitting sport. Goalie Fatigue and Sustained Pressure bonuses make NHL 24 feel more realistic and fair than ever before. Like a real-life hockey game, NHL 24′s mechanic makes it so when a team on the offensive remains in the attack zone for an extended time, the team on defense will begin to grow stressed. This in turn lowers the defensive team’s attributes and allows the offense more opportunities to set up attempted shots on the goalie, which is a position that is also getting a dramatic update.

Screenshot from NHL 24 shows a hockey Goalie making a dramatic save by blocking the puck by laying on his left side while the puck bounces off his bicep.

Besides providing more tools for offense, NHL 24 is also revamping goalie controls – and the crucial position’s AI behavior. Upgraded animations combined with the Exhaust Engine’s Goalie Fatigue System will tire out the goalkeeper, especially during long moments of Sustained Pressure. Advanced goalie AI operates outside the game’s chosen difficulty; however, keeping pressure in the attack zone will slow the goalie’s reaction times the longer they have to defend shot attempts. This immediately helped NHL 24 feel more fair to play for non-veteran players while simultaneously adding extra thrills when a tired goalie made an epic save in a period’s final seconds.

Crowds Make Every Match Feel Like The NHL Playoffs

Screen shot from NHL 24 shows a player shoving an opposing player into their teams bench filled with teammates.

One significant improvement that feels instantly apparent when playing NHL 24 is that every match a player takes part in feels as exciting as a playoff game. Anthems like Darude’s “Sandstorm” amp up the entire arena between plays, while crowd reactions adapt to the game and even yell at players to shoot for a goal, especially when the period’s timer draws to a close. Ads for businesses over the loudspeaker and improved game commentary further help improve the immersion of this year’s hockey installment.

The new Hockey Ultimate Team mode surpasses those moments by tasking players with recreating historic hockey moments and plays with HUT Moments. Completing legendary plays earn rewards, and given how much more the game’s highly customizable World of Chel mode has been expanded, players will have a lot of customization options to unlock.

World of Chel returns in NHL 24 and allows players to create their own players and customize their appearance with unlockable outfits, accessories, and even mascot costumes. The mode’s improved UI, matchmaking, and cross-play amongst same-generation consoles will allow players to show off their powered-up hockey team – or their silly team – in the online mode.

NHL 24 Drastically Improves On Previous Installments

This year’s cover athlete, Colorado Avalanche star player Cale Makar, was also impressed during the hands-on preview by how realistic the Exhaust Engine makes NHL 24‘s feel. With Makar’s professional experience as a defenseman, his word is to be trusted. New exhaustion and goalie mechanics, Hockey Ultimate Team mode, and drastic improvements to presentation make this year’s hockey sim feel like a significant improvement over last year’s installment. Players who enjoy hockey games but don’t like to buy every yearly installment should seriously consider slapping some pucks around in NHL 24 when it releases October 6th, 2023.

Source: NHL 24/YouTube

EA Sports NHL 24 releases October 6, 2023 on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Screen Rant was invited to EA Vancouver for the purposes of previewing NHL 24.

Source link