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First Look: NHL 20’s small changes make a big difference

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The main changes in this year’s edition are evident quickly.

EA Sports

It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes to feel the difference when playing NHL 20.

The big point of emphasis of this year’s edition of the annual game is powered by RPM Tech. While its main talking point are 45 new shot animations tailored after NHL superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Patrik Laine, cover athlete Auston Matthews, and more the new passing and puck pick-ups create faster, fluid gameplay at full speed.

The differences are noticeable. The actual gameplay has not been sped up but because of the improved animations, it feels more authentic. Players are always a threat to shoot and no longer trapped by animations.

The build of the game I played is the version that will be released in September. The public beta that came out in the Summer was actually locked in July so many improvements had been made even before the public feedback. I also had the opportunity to discuss and play the game with William Ho, who has been the creative director for the last two years.

Another major change that you will notice is the commentary. It is revamped and all new. Gone is the NHL on NBC branding and it gave producers full reign to make it an experience made for the next generation.

James Cybulski will be the new play by play announcer and Ray Ferraro the colour commentator. Both live in Vancouver, near the EA Sports office, allowing them to not only record together and create real chemistry but it will allow them to add commentary throughout the year similar to what EA Sports does with its Madden NFL franchise.

The first game I played was 0-0 going into overtime (there was a disallowed goal because the puck was kicked in) but with the commentary and fluid gameplay I was always on the edge of my seat.

Online play and the World of CHEL has also been revamped with all new gameplay modes and a refresh to NHL Threes and Ones.

Franchise mode also has new features led by the addition of coaches which affect ratings and gameplay on the ice, as well as new contract logic. The changes ensure that every franchise will be different based on the results and nothing is pre-determined.

I didn’t get a chance to test out the new Franchise mode, but stay tuned for our full review for details on that.

NHL 20 will be released worldwide on September 13, with pre-order Early Access for Deluxe and Ultimate Editions on September 10.