Also on: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Vancouver
Even though I wasn’t super high on NHL 23 last year, I eventually came to appreciate it more fully after I ended up playing a tonne of it while I was waiting for a new job to start. It didn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but it still became my go-to game for a little while back in the late winter/early spring just because of how much fun I had in Create a Pro mode.
And now NHL 24 is here, and…well, it’s basically the exact same game as NHL 23. There are a few changes, but by and large, this is the same game.
While that makes it hard to argue you need to buy NHL 24 if you already have NHL 23 (or, really, NHL 22, or NHL 21, or…let’s just say it’s been a while since they’ve done a full-on revamp of the game), at the very least it means that you know what you’re getting if you pick this up. It’s a faithful representation of one of Canada’s national sports, which means you get all the fast-paced action you could ask for, with a wealth of modes available whether you want to play solo or online.
That said, there are a few changes here worth mentioning. Most noticeably, NHL 24 brings in Cheryl Pounder as one of the commentators, replacing Ray Ferraro, and it’s a nice change of pace to finally have a new voice alongside series mainstay James Cybulski. It’s a tough slot to fill, given how easy it can be for changes like that to go poorly (I’m looking in your direction, MLB The Show), so the fact you barely even notice Pounder here is a sign she’s doing something right.
The other welcome addition is something called the “Exhaust Engine.” The longer a team spends inside their opponent’s blue line, the louder and more intense the game gets, and the more the opposing goalie starts to get tired. It’s a neat way to capture the feeling of hockey at its best, and it adds a nice level of intensity to the games.
Not all the changes are as positive, though. NHL 24 introduces a new set of controls called “Total Control,” and while it’s certainly better than the “Skill Stick” controls, both feel clunky compared to whatever controls the game used last year. In a similar vein, this year’s game is trumpeting new game physics, and the end result would appear to be a game where it’s almost impossible to nail opposing players with satisfyingly crunchy body checks. Given that one of my favourite things to do in NHL 23 was flying around the ice and leaving a trail of woozy opponents in my wake, you can see why I’d be a little down on these changes.
Nonetheless, NHL 24 remains a pretty solid game if all you’re after is an in-depth hockey game that can be enjoyed no matter your skill level. It may not be worth upgrading if you have last year’s game, but if you’ve taken a couple of years off from the franchise, now might be a good time to jump back in.
Electronic Arts provided us with an NHL 24 PS5 code for review purposes.