By @StefanKubus –
EA SPORTS NHL 19 is set to hit stores on Friday (and digital stores slightly sooner).
For those of you who haven’t seen or heard much about this year’s entry, there are a handful of new additions that breathed new life into a series I’ve long loved and have admittedly been a bit burned out on.
I had seen the trailers introducing the World of Chel and some of the gameplay tweaks, but you can never truly judge the game until you have it in your hands.
For the first time ever, the World of Chel allows fans to play outdoors on a pond for the first time ever. After trying a bit of everything and primarily being a Franchise Mode fan, World of Chel quickly became my focus for how quick and fun each game can be, specifically NHL ONES, one of four World of Chel game modes. This one pits you in a 1-on-1-on-1 half-ice, free-for-all matchup that makes for a quick, fun game, but also an incredibly competitive one for veterans of the series. Each game becomes a tactical defensive battle with the opportunity to strike quickly on offense looming and available at any given time. It’s reminiscent of the Free-For-All mode EA SPORTS introduced in NHL 2005.
Check out a full game of NHL ONES below, as well as a brief overview and sample of the World of Chel player customization:
And because you’re playing outdoors, customizing your player in the World of Chel allows for the same, winter clothes you’d bundle up in before playing pond hockey in real life. This means beanies, hoodies, jackets and of course your favorite stick, skates and gloves. EA SPORTS has also introduced saveable player loadouts, so you can easily switch between your “two-way forward” or “puck-moving defenseman” set-ups with the click of a button. It’s quite helpful in keeping your player ready for all positions and situations depending on how you want to play.
In addition to the cosmetics, you can also unlock things like sounds for custom goal horns and performance-based player traits, such as a passing power-up, which you can apply to your player loadouts. As you level up, you unlock “hockey bags,” which are similar to loot boxes and include a randomized handful of the aforementioned items. Rest assured: these hockey bags are unlocked only through in-game progression and cannot be purchased with real money.
As a side note because it’s a real neat addition this year, EA SPORTS has added over 200 NHL legends thanks to a new agreement with the NHL Alumni Association, with names ranging from Wayne Gretzky to Bob Probert to Garth Butcher. The legends are available for single-player play and also come as collectible cards in Hockey Ultimate Team, as well.
All in all, combined with the most fluid gameplay in years, the arcade-like pond hockey aspect of this year’s entry has me most excited for the rest of the season and also seasons to come.