NHL 23 got a reveal trailer recently ahead of its October launch. That has quickly been followed up with a gameplay trailer. A trailer that shows off a number of new and tweaked features that should fill hockey fans with hope for the immediate future of the series.
Most sports sims launch games annually, meaning there's very little time to actually improve the titles from one version to the next. Little more than a slightly better-looking game with updated teams and rosters. There need to be significant changes occasionally though, and this feels like that time for EA's NHL. Big changes to the game's AI, strategies, and perhaps most notably of all, the addition of desperation plays (via Push Square).
The trailer below kicks off with those desperation plays, and rightly so. When body checked by a rival player, you will have the chance to do one last thing with the puck before you lose it as your player stumbles and often hits the ice. Either take a shot or attempt to pass it to a teammate rather than give up possession. Footage of actual people simulating those hits and falls is shown, and they were used to create more than 500 different animations for NHL 23.
Sticking with animations, AI goalies will have more than 300 new ones in NHL 23 compared to last year's game. The animations were previously only available to human-controlled players. That meant AI goalies would often make strange, sometimes downright bizarre decisions. Hopefully, there will be a lot less of that in NHL 23 as goalies will be better positioned more of the time and have a better understanding when it comes to tracking the puck.
The trailer above also takes a deep dive into strategies, something that has been in dire need of an overhaul for a few years, as well as pass assist, something EA acknowledges it has drastically improved following community feedback. Unlike FIFA, EA's hockey games will remain officially affiliated with the sport's governing body. Its football games will be dubbed EA Sports FC starting in 2023.
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