The first full uncut NHL 22 gameplay footage is here.
The game is the first NHL iteration using the Frostbite engine, a game platform used for many of EA's top game properties. The initial reactions to the game have been mixed, with some praising for the overall graphic improvements, while others have been frustrated with the lack of overall changes to the game.
From a visual gameplay standpoint, the game doesn't look much different from previous iterations. The pace is fine, the goalies react well to shots, but the overall animations look directly imported from NHL 21. If you liked that game, that's great. But it doesn't feel like an overly fresh visual experience when actually playing the game of hockey.
In the overhead camera view, the ice looks a bit flat at times, similar to what we've seen in previous iterations. The lighting and reflections are noticeable, but it definitely doesn't look like the water-filled bonanza we saw in the original trailer. It feels a bit more realistic in that way, and that's a positive.
The new stick physics are noticeable. The puck bounces off them differently than in the past, poke checks aren't overpowered and tripping isn't the absolute (bleep) show we've witnessed since NHL 13. Sticks still phase through opponents and boards, and they don't break like they used to, but the physics are definitely refined.
As part of the technical test, passing was harder and hitting felt punishing without feeling unrealistic (hip checks look awesome, by the way). It definitely felt like a better game, albeit not a major step up. There's only so much you can change about the game of hockey. Passing still looked like a challenge in the gameplay footage, and that's something people will take time getting used to. But it definitely felt like an improvement from previous years based on the test alone.
Of course, this was just a video of gameplay. Nobody got to play the game themselves. The game is still a few weeks away, but it definitely feels like NHL 22 is a step in the right direction. There aren't any new features worth getting excited about – Superstar X-Factors aren't going to move the game's needle that much – but it feels more refined. Some fans of the series are getting restless, but if the developers can sell people on the idea that this is a transition year to new platforms before coming out big next year, that could help their case.
EA will release more in-depth looks at the game leading up to the release of the game. We'll see where the developers decide to take this game further and, hopefully, it ends up being the success fans have been looking forward to.
Need to Know:
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Platforms: Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Xbox Series X and Xbox One
Version: Standard, X-Factor Edition
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Vancouver
Graphics Engine: Frostbite (all platforms)
Cover Athlete: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Commentary: James Cybulski, Ray Ferraro