by Matthew Rondina
Get ready to lace em’ up and hit the ice this year with NHL 20, the series returns with some big gameplay upgrades that will have a big impact on the pro scene. Let’s hop the boards and see what’s in store for puck heads this fall, giving you an edge on the competition.
Speed and Shooting
Last year it was all about the Connor McDavid powered RPM tech to help with perfecting player movement with a new skating engine. NHL 20 continues to build on player control focusing on speed and shooting giving players a greater range of movement and fluidity with the puck. In NHL 19, players were pulled out of natural puck movement and skating stride by certain animations, getting hamstrung in crucial plays. EA is looking to improve on the pace the game is played by integrating animation movements more naturally with the action on the ice.
Speaking of animations, one of my favourite additions this year is the players’ new signature shooting styles which have been added to bring a new level of realism to the game. Iconic follow throughs like P.K. Subban’s wild wind-up slapshot or Ovechkin’s down on one knee blast are now all in the game. In addition to this, contextual shots have been added to help remedy player misfires, or awkward movements around the puck. EA has added 45 new shooting animations, which really have made the gameplay not only look more lifelike, but give forwards more tools to get creative with the puck. The placement of your passes makes a big difference too, giving you more or less power and accuracy depending on the origin of the pass. Get ready this season for more dekes, and odd angle shots, there are more ways to shoot the puck, don’t get caught by surprise.
Lightening Quick Transitions
Hockey is one of the fastest sports on Earth, it takes only a second to score a goal and rapidly swing the game’s momentum. NHL 20 looks to capture more of this speed through finding efficiencies in how players handle puck transitions. Plays in transition will be more seamless, players can now pick up the puck and turn to anticipate a pass without a break in speed. Passing locations have also been modified, taking into account angles that will allow players to receive the pass on their fore or backhand and not constantly into their skates. I personally have found this to be a massive gameplay improvement, as I’m not always losing speed on an offensive rush when outletting the puck. From what I have seen and played, this creates a more true-to-life experience on the ice, things just look and feel much smoother.
A Brick Wall
The skaters aren’t the only ones who have seen some big upgrades, goaltenders have also had their AI reworked allowing them to have more control in their positioning and movement. Last season goalies tended to over commit with sprawling saves no matter how soft or hard the shot. NHL 20 looks to offer goalies a far larger toolset of movements allowing them to deflect shots in a controlled manner using their stick, leg pads and blocker. The puck can even be pinned against the net or against the keeper’s chest, adding a new level of realism. Goalies also have better shooter threat awareness, coming out aggressively to challenge shooters and cutdown shooting angles.
Tape up that stick, NHL 20 launches on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this September. Depending on which version you opt for, you could be hitting the ice early. Deluxe or Ultimate editions get you on the ice September 10th with a full worldwide launch on September 13th.
About the Author: Matthew Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Follow Matthew’s gaming adventures on twitter and join in on the fun!