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EA Sports on NHL 23: “We know it didn’t live up to your expectations”

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Woz
By Woz
8 months ago
As fans of the Edmonton Oilers, there’s one thing many of us have in common: Chel. We’ve all picked up a copy of the NHL video games whether it’s every couple of years or year to year. And while there’s no doubt that fans of the franchise have had their frustrations, EA recently revealed what you can expect in future titles to make up for what’s been happening recently.

Community Obsession

When it comes to video games it’s rare to hear a developer or a game director give an honest assessment of their product and that’s what creative director, Mike Inglehart wasn’t afraid to admit that
“When it comes to looking back at the past like NHL 23, we know it didn’t live up to your expectations, we recognize that and that’s something we definitely are going to try and course correct with NHL 24.”
Essentially those at EA and behind the NHL titles want to have a connection with its player base. They want to take and listen to your feedback about the game and hopefully apply it to the future of the franchise.

Cross-Play

One of the major changes coming to NHL 24 from a social aspect is the cross-play mode. This time around it will have FULL cross-play for EASHL, World Of Chel, and Hockey Ultimate Team. You can now play with your friends on other consoles (same gen). This is what essentially sold me on the game as it’ll allow us the opportunity to play Chel with Nation Citizens like yourself and have some fun together as a community.
Cross-play was introduced in NHL 23 however there were a few barriers behind it and didn’t live up to expectations as you weren’t able to invite friends in versus matches.
Mike Inglehart: “Last year we focused on let’s at least get the foundation in place which is allowing people to have cross-platform matchmaking so you weren’t able to team up but at least you could finally compete and then for 24′ it was like, let’s complete the circle. So for 24′ we’re happy that we’re actually bringing true cross-play into World of Chel, so finally you’re going to be able to, if you’re on Sony and I’m on Microsoft we’re finally going to able to link up beyond the same team and close that circle.”
As someone who’s an Xbox guy, I will welcome any challenger that’s on PlayStation.

GM Connected

EA has finally addressed a mode that fans have wanted to return since it last appeared in NHL 14 and that’s the online version of franchise mode known as GM Connected. Where you can take on your friends in franchise mode save and see who’s the better, smarter NHL GM.
Here’s what EA had to say about the mode:
“First of all, I’m glad we got the G word out in the open and on the table. We’ve been exploring numerous different ways to try and figure out how to get this mode revitalized, alive, and bring it back into the franchise. The one challenge though when we look back at what GM Connected was when it first came out is, it was a very big mode and so trying to actually tackle this thing in a single year is really tough for us to do, so it’s not something we can nail in a single cycle the way it was created in the past.”
What fans tend to forget is how slow and sluggish GM Connected was back in NHL 14 and 13 when originally introduced. Simulations would take a good 5-10 minutes within the schedule. It was a mode that was very heavy, I would imagine on the online servers for EA.
Now, eight years later the technology should be there to make Connected Franchise smoother, which is what they plan to name the feature in the future.
“It won’t be in 24′ but we’re gonna continue talking about it. This is sort of opening the conversation and will continue talking about this topic in the future as we go forward”
GM Connected will return one day and I can’t wait to see Liam and Tyler from Oilersnation Everyday take each other on and prove who can an NHL franchise better.

Hockey Ultimate Team

HUT is a polarizing game mode as it’s viewed as pay-to-win by much of the community. EA hasn’t said much about the mode so far but did say something that left fans unhappy.
“Specifically this year I know that we’re focused on HUT and World of Chel, being our two premier modes that we obviously want to have feedback on”
This left a sour taste in the mouths of many as they want the developers to have more focus on Franchise Mode and Be A Pro. Fact is most companies will prioritize what data shows. If EA’s data shows that much of the player base is playing HUT and World of Chel, then it’s going to be a core focus. Yes, they’re money-making modes as well but it’s possible they’re not seeing enough data that shows players playing Be A Pro more compared to HUT.
Franchise Mode right now is already great in my opinion. Could use a little bit of tweaking but it’s come a long way since its early days.
And with a new set of developers working on EA Sports NHL, it’s possible those modes get the love they deserve.

Gameplay

Let’s be honest, the gameplay in the NHL games truly brings out the worst of us.
From creative director, Mike Inglehart on gameplay:
“We’ve come up with a ton of new gameplay changes this year that change the game from the opening faceoff. We’ve revamped the different meta systems in the game. You’re going to feel differences in terms of how you attack, how you defend, and the tactics that go into that. Even how you pass and hit is going to be new and fresh and people are going to really enjoy what’s actually there.”
This is refreshing to hear from EA. Of course, they will try to hype up the new title as much as they can but only by playing the game ourselves will we tell if there’s a difference. I feel this is something hockey fans in general want, to have the game feel different than the last and of course be enjoyable.

Wrap up

Sports games can be very cookie-cutter and repetitive and that’s how the NHL franchise has felt for a while. I’m optimistic about NHL 24 and excited to use cross-play to its full potential. The official reveal for NHL 24 is August 16th, 2023 and that’s when we can expect the cover star. I’m praying we see Leon Draisaitl on the cover but McDavid wouldn’t hurt again.
But there’s a reason to be hopeful for NHL 24. They have new faces in charge of the direction of the game. Chris Haluke is the Senior Producer and Mike Inglehart is the creative director. Fun fact, Mike was a director on the original Super Mario Strikers on the Game Cube. Chris worked on titles such as Halo, Killzone, and Assassins Creed.
For fans of the series, this is a changing of the guard and Mike and Chris taking the lead of the NHL series may be the best thing to happen to the franchise in a decade, as mentioned by Thrash94Gaming on Twitter.
Thrash also mentioned there’s a former NHL2K Dev on the team.
I have to admit, it’s a breath of fresh air to have the developers being open with the community and listening to the community who only want the best for the NHL games. Many developers and publishers throughout the gaming industry can take note of what EA Sports NHL is doing here. Time will only tell if it pays off. And it’s important to remember that not every title will be perfect however all fans want at this point is an improvement as they’ve felt not much has changed for years.

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