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NHL 24 Review

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A code was provided for review purposes

Reviewing NHL games has become an annual event for me and one I look forward to each year. NHL 24 is the newest edition in a long-running sports game franchise. How does this iteration compare to its predecessors? Stick with us through this Rapid Review to find out. 

Opening game face off in NHL 24
Higher skill baby!

Fits Like a Glove

NHL 24, much like any new installment in a sports franchise, fits like a glove, or rather like a pair of your favourite slippers. Not because slippers are better than gloves, but because I prefer slippers, and I feel it would be harder to play the game with gloves on, while footwear has barely any impact at all on gameplay or performance. Often, when reviewing annual titles for sports games, the differences are negligible. My review for NHL 23 mentioned this very fact. However, for NHL 24, things are a little different. 

Now, I don’t mean that the concept of ice hockey has been wholly revolutionized or that there are numerous new game modes to play. That would be a lie. But gameplay-wise, the whole thing feels different. The gameplay seems more robust and more realistic.  Even in easier modes, the game seems to be more of a challenge. It might just be that I hadn’t played NHL 23 for a while before diving into this title, and I’m just rusty, but I don’t believe it. I found myself having to think about my passes and look ahead of the play in order to be successful. Brute force was no longer enough for me to butcher my way through challenges. 

HUT objective screen showing active objectives and progress in NHL 24
NHL 24 is objective heaven for those that like chasing targets.

Small Changes Make Big Differences

Aside from the standard graphical enhancements and new animations, there are some very nice features added to NHL 24 that helped push the game into the ‘worth buying’ category of sports games. 

Firstly, the new mechanic for being able to end a challenge game as soon as you have completed all of the necessary objectives was a welcome addition. It’s a minor change because the games are generally not very long, and it could be deep in the third quarter before you hit that final achievement. But it’s a feature I didn’t realize I needed. As a gamer who often picks up NHL to play in those short moments of peace and quiet during an otherwise hectic day, I found I could get three challenge games completed instead of two in the same period of time. I could stay invested because I was no longer playing through a game for the hell of it. These challenge games have no consequence outside of the three targets. So, in hindsight, stopping it after hitting them is a wonderful addition. 

Secondly, NHL 24 has introduced extra control options that enhance gameplay and bring a fresh dynamic to everything. The introduction of hip and shoulder checks on top of the standard body check has been revolutionary for my defensive play. I play a physical style of hockey, and these new controls have helped me no end. There is something eternally satisfying about crashing into another player and seeing them fly up and into the bench. Passing is also enhanced in this year’s NHL offering, with player-specific passes possible thanks to their new Vision Control mechanic. It surprises me that it took so long to arrive, as I believe this has existed in FIFA for many years already. 

End game sumamry screen for NHL24
Complete domination!

No New Game Modes, But Noticeable Changes

Another thing that feels different in NHL 24 is the overall pace of the game. Everything feels faster and crisper, which you would expect with the new graphics and enhanced technical bits in the background. I also felt that individual players had more weight to them. By this, I mean smaller players felt lighter to skate with, and I could feel the power of the heavier players as they moved in for a hit. Subtle differences from last year, but when totaled, make for a nearly unexplainable improvement on many fronts. Everything from new animations and celebrations to better commentary and the continued inclusion of female players, staff and commentary team members help make NHL 24 a fantastic installment to a long-running franchise.

As I already mentioned, there are no new game modes in NHL 24. The bases are all already covered, and to tinker with them would seem redundant anyway. My previous reviews focused on a single module, either Franchise Mode, Be a Pro, or Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT). This time around, I’ve tried every mode for a well-rounded impression. Honestly, there is nothing new to say about them. I really liked them then, and I really like them now. With the exception of World of Chel, which, for personal reasons, I can never get into, everything plays well. I tend to play most of my games in either HUT or Be a Pro. It’s a personal preference, and no slight the other modes.

Outside of that, everything I have loved in previous years made the cut this time around. Collecting sets and trading in collections for rewards, the need to grind in HUT – which I find to be part of the fun rather than a chore – and the plethora of offline options, including different leagues, cups, and tournaments.

An Enjoyable and Realistic Hockey Experience

I always find it challenging to write a review for sports games. I love playing them and look forward to each new installment. However, I appreciate that with limited changes, you can only say so much about them before you sound like a broken record. My personal opinion is that NHL 24 has been the best installment in recent years and is definitely worth the cost. As always, this is under the assumption you love these styles of games. It takes a certain gamer mentality to play and enjoy the unique longevity of sports games.

Team statistics at the end of a game of hockey in NHL 24 Franchise Mode.
Good game kid, good game!

So, with that all said and done, I’m off to get back to my Yokohama Ice Gremlins franchise and see if I can’t lift the Stanley Cup this season.

Rapid Reviews Rating

gold score

You can get your copy of NHL 24 from the Microsoft Store today.

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