NHL 23 Review

NHL 23 Baby, nice ice.

To be more generic, NHL23 scores and rebounds. This is the first major, wide-ranging push forward for the series since the launch of the Xbox One in 2014 and the PlayStation 4. Although it is long overdue, it’s a good thing to finally see. It’s often the little things that make a difference. NHL 23 has enhanced graphics and audio, which brings a new level of freshness. While not all things get the same makeovers, developers focus on what is most important.

NHL 23 uses the hardware power of the PlayStation 5 (and Xbox Series X) to make ice look like ice, unlike last year. Although it doesn’t sound too extravagant, the stunning effect of an overhead scoreboard reflecting on the playing surface in the first few seconds of a period is breathtaking. Reflections fade as skaters tear up the surface leaving behind new, convincing ice piles. Some teams offer custom light shows before their players go out on the ice. These are also very impressive, with the entire crowd waving glow sticks and beaming laser light onto the ice.

NHL 23 Review

The players are also meticulously crafted, down to freckles, precise jersey stitching and visors that sparkle in the sunlight. NHL 23 appears completely broadcast-like from a distance, provided that the animations are not too fast (necessary transitions can break the immersion).
NHL 23 looks completely and completely like a broadcast.

Revamps on the audio side make strides too, creating one of the most authentic in-arena soundscapes in sports gaming. More than varied cheers and boos, there are intensities, like the crowd’s volume rapidly rising during a tense face-off, or giving up – even booing – when down by an insurmountable goal count. Home teams have individualized chants to push them on, all newly recorded. That sounds typical on paper, but in execution, the authenticity is unreal. Commentary remains the same, however, which means the too-game-ified X-Factor chat returns from last year, but those are the only breaks from NHL 23’s sublime audio-visual reality.Which of these top-ranked teams is the most likely to win the Cup this year.

NHL 23 brings new drama to the table with a host of desperate plays like diving for a puck in front, which would otherwise be impossible. Defense is the same, with the goal of balancing strategy and fun by trying to sweep the puck from their zone. These are easy to do with a quick double tap on your pass button or quick swipe on the analog stick. This is a natural reaction when you’re excited close to the net. Other controls are unchanged, including fluid dekes and elegant stick handling.

What we have to say about NHL 23

NHL 22 invests a lot of energy in Superstar X-Factors promotion, but even big-name players aren’t able to use their unique abilities with the same level of gameplay impact you would expect. The year is strong for out-of the-box balancing. However, arcade modes still have their charms even though they are only sidebars. It’s a slow jump to a new generation visually. It’s also harder to get lost in the game than at its peak. – Matt Paprocki, October 19, 2021

Score: 6

NHL 22 Review

Star players are provided with X-Factors, a cross-brand touch that – just like HUT – is available to the entire EA Sports roster. They receive tuning updates each year and new abilities, but in hockey’s fast pace, their viability is rarely obvious. They are a passive function that rarely comes into play. Sarah Nurse’s X-Factor increases her shot and passes accuracy after taking a hit. However, it is unclear what the actual effect is. This is what the color commentary believes makes a difference, but those snippets sound more like marketing than information.

Participation in interactive Stanley Cup celebrations is possible for winning teams. It’s fun to hold the Cup, pass it around, and see names inscribed on the trophy. It doesn’t really have any meaning, as the choice of who holds the Cup is merely a menu selection. This adds very little drama. It’s a great idea and EA could expand on it down to give us more control over the festivities. That sounds like fun.

If Be a Pro is your primary mode, NHL 23 is not worth buying.

Aside from the visual boosts and new on-ice moves that apply, Be a Pro mode is untouched. The single-player career rolls out exactly like NHL 22, from the cinematics to the storyline. To be clear, it’s the exact same. All of it. NHL 23 isn’t worth purchasing if this is your primary mode, unless updated rosters mean that much to you. The same goes for side modes like NHL Threes and One-on-One, which seem to show up in this annual hockey game only because taking them out doesn’t make sense.

EA decided to focus on the franchise mode rather than focusing there. Although it’s not a complete overhaul, the cleverly redesigned setup phase can make a significant difference in how seasons progress. You can reorder entire divisions, and you can also change the number of teams. This allows international teams to join the fray. The playoff terms depend on how many teams are cut and how the standings are arranged.

According to EA’s marketing materials, it is now possible for a franchise to be run with the original six teams. Unlucky timing allowed NBA 2K23 to allow for a similar idea last month but also provided the actual players of those legacy teams. NHL 23 allows fantasy rosters to be included in the mix. Gordie Howe, although he will be there with current stars, won’t be part of the action . [Correction: Gordie Howe Is Available, together with a selection of Hall of Famer, but not all classic teams.

NHL 23 is hockey’s first video game. It includes the full IIHF women’s team, tournaments, and custom players. In the microtransaction-based Ultimate Team, EA’s clearly profitable card-trading team-building mode, those women from IIHF teams make their first appearance. The move, which is sure to ignite nonsense discussions about inter-gender hockey and Canada’s Sarah Nurse cover star debut, is the right choice. Plus, those who are playing legacy editions on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 of NHL 23 can transfer their HUT team to a new console if/when they upgrade to the Series X/PS5. This is a rare occurrence in these real-world dollar-based annual modes.

Online play in HUT also offers cross-platform play between Xbox Series X/PS5 and Xbox One/PS4 users. Although it is not an integration, this only allows for versus (no cooperative play) and only applies to World of Chel and HUT competitions, it is a useful move. It’s Ultimate Team, which is predatory in its execution, to keep us all buying and digging through packs for the best players, who are artificially rare by design.


NHL 23 finally feels and looks like it belongs on these bigger consoles. The visual tech upgrade brings a new dimension to on-ice play. It also benefits players who are willing and able to jump for the puck in desperate attempts to score or save. The crowds’ reaction to the action gives it new energy. This creates an audio design that is best-in-class for stadium effects. The franchise mode customization expands greatly, and it feels right to see women join the fold. At the same time there are several modes that are outright ignored, including the Be a Pro single-player campaign, and its microtransaction-driven Ultimate Team mode comes with the usual caveats about its predatory, profit-driven nature.


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