NHL 24 Review
I’ve been a hockey fan my entire life, and no matter where I have moved and lived, I’ve always worn my love for the Toronto Maple Leafs on my sleeves. NHL has always been a franchise I have loved, and still today it’s a fantastic simulation sports experience. With the new upgrades for the 2023-2024 season, I think NHL is as good as its ever been, but there are still a few issues I see.
Updating the game
Most sports games get a bad rap for updating rosters, tweaking one or two things, and pushing out a new experience for full price year after year. Not a lot is changing in NHL 24, but I do think there is enough to warrant a new purchase. Tweaks have been made to various game modes to make them just a tad more enjoyable, but the biggest changes are brand new animations, and a new control scheme.
Animations in sports games are much more important than you might think, as they are what give the game flow as you play. Disjointed animations equals a disjointed experience, so I’m happy to see the development team continue to work on making these games feel more and more realistic. From crowd animations to goal celebrations, to just the eb-and-flow of the game, the NHL has never looked so real in video games.
What’s better to me is the brand new control scheme that maps a few key deke moves to button presses as opposed to the more complex skill stick + bumper system. Pulling of trick moves for me was always really tough in past experiences, and while only 4 specific moves get mapped to the controller face buttons, they are some of the more useful tricks that will help your most skilled players put on a show.
For me, this update is all about accessibility of the game, and making it so more people can enjoy cooler moves. Prior to NHL 24, I was a very vanilla NHL players, which is why I never played online. With these new button combinations, I can pull of some sweet dekes without worrying about the sequence of buttons I needed to use as in the past.
Where My Time is Spent – HUT
Hockey Ultimate Team is where I spend the bulk of my time in NHL, and it’s where my biggest criticism of the game lies. Playing the other modes is better than ever, so if you enjoy building your own franchise, or steering a player through their career, I think that is better than it ever has been! When it comes to HUT, however, I think the slog of menus and load screens is beginning to kill that experience for me.
In EAFC 24, getting into games, through games, and through the various menus is easy and fast. I can knock out 3 games of soccer in under an hour, with a bunch of menu work in between. With NHL 24, I struggled with how long it took to load into games, load between periods, load after goals, etc. etc.
It was long, and doing anything felt a bit like slog to me. I never could earn coins fast enough, earn free packs and players fast enough. My team was dead in the water for a long time before I began pulling 80+ NHL players which again, took too long. I think there is a lot to learn from EAFC 24, and I hope to see some of that implemented in future HUT modes.
Honestly, I think this has been a problem for the game for a few years now, so again, if you’ve really enjoyed HUT in the past, it’s back and better than ever.
Overall, NHL 24 is a great hockey experience. It is more lifelike and real than ever before, and the new control scheme means less advanced players can pull of some of the show stopping moves that were previously locked behind a solid knowledge of the skill stick. While there is still lots to master, it does open the game up to a new audience, and I love that.