When EA Sports NHL 22 launches this year it’ll be the first game in the series to be available on the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 (PS5). Last year’s NHL 21, while able to be played on the new consoles, was released exclusively for last-gen due to development changes with the Covid-19 pandemic.
NHL 21 saw a completely overhauled Be-A-Pro that gave the mode the shot in the arm that it needed for so many years. On top of that, modes like EASHL and Franchise also got some nice improvements. That said, NHL 21 still left a bit to be desired across all of its offerings.
NHL 22 is the start of a new generation for the franchise, and there are ways to make sure it starts with a roar instead of a whimper. I’m Mike from Sports Gamers Online and here are 10 things we want to see from NHL 22.
NHL 22 Wishlist
A New Engine
We know this is likely going to happen with this year’s game, but until it’s confirmed it makes the list. After seven years on the Ignite Engine, it’s time for NHL 22 to bring the series forward with a new engine.
Sure, the Frostbite Engine might not be the greatest for sports games — which we’ve documented often — but it’s still better than what the series has been using. The game is looking and feeling stale after a subpar showing on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s time to start things anew, and the best way to do that is to bring the game to a new engine.
More Player Likenesses
I feel like a broken record with this one, but more player likenesses are a must. With each game, we have been getting more and more likenesses added, but it’s just not enough.
It’s ok if a guy who spent most of the time in the AHL or somewhere else doesn’t have a face scan. What’s not ok is when EA has either been using the same exact face scan for years for long-time veterans or just never scanned a player to begin with. Last year was a pass because of the pandemic, but this year should have newly scanned players into the game.
Winter Classic/Outdoor Games
Another that appeared on the list last year, bringing back the Winter Classic and other outdoor games would be a great addition. They haven’t been a part of the game since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era, and fans have continued to beg for their return.
Many of the venues are already available thanks to games like FIFA and Madden NFL. If NHL 22 ends up on the same version of Frostbite, it seems like a no-brainer to bring the feature back. Should that happen, it would be nice if they could somehow get four or five of the past outdoor venues in the game. Besides, how cool would it be to see the Winter Classic integrated into Franchise Mode?
Deeper Creation Suite
The creation suite in NHL isn’t the worst, but it could be better. Let players create an arena in more detail for their franchise. Give more hair and facial hair options, and add new and interesting equipment to use.
For goalies, allow us to create our own mask designs. Enough with these boring masks that no one even wants to use. Make the game fun, and let the creative juices flow. Sure, it’s the best suite in all of the EA Sports titles, but it still needs to be improved on.
Oh, and also work better on keeping the trash team and player names out of the game. Ok?
Before you even ask, no the KHL is likely to never be in an EA Sports NHL video game. That said, there are other leagues that could make their way. The USHL (with generic players) could be added.
With the new NIL policies from the NCAA, maybe fans finally get college teams into the game for an added twist. Of course, however, my big hope is that women’s teams finally get their rightful place in the game. The NWHL continues to grow, and having it make its way to the NHL series would be a great step towards building a younger fan base.
A New EASHL Playoff System
They tried, but the EASHL playoff format introduced in NHL 21 was a complete failure and a mess. Some things were nice like not knowing who your opponent was until you got into a game, but that was really it.
It lasted far too long compared to the regular season while it felt that you had to play the game endlessly to even have a chance to be a “champion”. At least with the old system, a team of friends that didn’t have the time to play 100 games a day could still win a division championship.
All-Star Weekend/Skills Competition
A feature that falls more into the “nice to have” category, adding All-Star Weekend and the Skills Competition to the series would be a nice touch to give fans something different.
Seeing a full weekend of events in Franchise Mode would add a new wrinkle to a mode that has continuously gotten better over the years. Getting that alert that a player on your team was selected to take part in the Accuracy event makes the mode feel more authentic.
Now, take it out of franchise mode. Just imagine killing time with friends locally or online by setting up a custom set of competitions for bragging rights. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty fun.
NHL 2K5 had a fun skills mode, and NHL 22 should try to catch up to the game from 17 years ago.
Why this still hasn’t happened yet is beyond me. I don’t want to hear about the amateurism of NHL prospects and draft picks because that hasn’t mattered for NBA 2K or Madden. Besides, it’s not just rookies and prospects fans care about.
What if you want to create 32 classic rosters? What about a full league of just random superhero characters that you can share with the world? The feature is in almost every other major sports title, so it’s about time that the NHL series gets with the times.
With roster sharing, the developers can put the burden of roster updates on the players. Now, that doesn’t mean eliminate the official roster updates entirely, because that would just be ridiculous. But trade updates and signings could be addressed by fans quicker while waiting for the official update to come.
Online Franchise/GM Connected
See this dead horse? Well, it’s going to continue to get beat until this request is finally answered. It may seem like it’ll eventually go away, but it’s something that will be asked for every year, including the NHL 22 wishlist you are reading today.
There’s nothing more to say other than bring back Online Franchise, GM Connected, or whatever you want to call it. Just give fans a way to enjoy the improved franchise mode with their friends. The demand is there. The only reason it wasn’t popular on the Xbox 360 and PS3 is because the servers and menus were so slow and terrible, that the mode was unplayable.
Another dead horse special, it’s been 13 years since an NHL game was released on PC. That’s long enough. Madden came back when it switched to Frostbite, so it only makes sense that NHL does the same.
Piracy is nowhere near as big of a concern as it used to be, and adding the game to a service like Xbox Game Pass could be a great way to get more new players into it. Besides, think of the mods that would be done to make the game even better? I mean, it’s not unheard of to see EA hire modders based on the work they did on a product of theirs.
What’s on your NHL 22 Wishlist?
What features, updates or modes are on your NHL 22 wishlist that you want to see when it’s released? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stick with Sports Gamers Online for everything NHL 22.