NHL 20 – Review (PS4)
It’s finally here, hockey season. As with most sports, the season comes once a year. Many will fight for the top spot and their coveted trophy, others fail miserably with no chance. So where does that leave NHL 20, currently the only contender for the title? It doesn’t necessarily make it a shoo-in.
If you follow me on twitter, @Klutzleo, you’ll see that I love hockey. I mean I love all sports, but hockey has a special place in my heart. Grew up playing Ice Hockey for NES, moved onto NHL ’94 which was a game-changer for not only hockey but for all sports titles. Then something happened. I fell off the NHL bandwagon and fell in love with NHL 2K from 2K games. At this point, I couldn’t tell you why, but I owned a couple of those titles. Pushing forward to now, NHL 20 is the supreme leader as 2K doesn’t have an NHL game and the other hockey games are more arcade-like…What sets NHL 20 off as the number one and only NHL licensed game out there?
The gameplay is simple to figure out but has the incredible depth for advanced players to get the jump on their opponents with raw skill. Every aspect, from the offense, to defense, to the goalie, every player controls differently and can be maximized with the use of the sticks on the controller. Want to deke slap the stick to the right, want to deke again, bring that bad boy back to the left. Slap shot? Pull back and slap it forward. Windmill deke? Now you need to use both sticks to pull something like that off. That’s where the advanced players will separate from the casual players. Is it necessary to use all these advanced tricks? Nope, and that’s fantastic.
There is a slew of game modes for you to choose from. From a regular-season mode to GM mode where you call the shots, to Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT), to the popular CHEL mode. There’s enough for every hockey fan to enjoy. I really loved Be a Pro mode (where you control only the player you created and CHEL. HUT is fun, you open packs of card and you try to form the best team to compete against other HUT teams. The only problem I have with that is it’s really close to Pay to Win. If you’re willing to drop real cash on opening packs of cards, you will benefit greatly.
CHEL is a blast as you get to create a character from scratch. The creation mode is unreal. You can not only choose what they look like, size, right or left-handed etc, but as you play you unlock hockey bags to unzip and you will be rewarded with new clothes, new celebrations, goal horn customizations, or accessories. It’s really fun being rewarded for playing, you don’t even need to be an amazing player to get hockey bags to unlock. Within CHEL you have a few modes, Pro-Am where you get to play against CPU pros, 3v3 mode, you can join a team and play with friends against others, or you can play the new ‘battle royal’ ONES Eliminator. I did get lost in the ONES Eliminator for a bit. It’s 1v1v1 and a CPU controlled goalie. You just try to get to the puck to the net and score more than anyone else in the short time frame you have. There are also no rules so you can check whenever or dive like your stopping a puck and knock everyone down. The idea is if you can win your round, you move to the next and so on until there is a winner. Like most battle royals, you need skill, but a little bit of luck can get you into the later rounds. This mode was a blast to play and unlock more cosmetic features for my player.
The Be a Pro mode, is usually my go-to in the recent NHL games, especially when sometimes my playing time is limited. Only control the player you created and you can simulate the times you’re on the bench (or penality box) until you’re back on the ice again. There is a mini RPG system built-in, so the more you play and listen to your coach, you will level up your stats and become better. Unfortunately after playing NBA 2K20, I felt very…cheated in this mode. NBA 2K20 had a fun storyline, then an open-world Neighborhood. NHL 20 had nothing. No story, no real connection to your player. I can see this in a year or so (or hope to) combine both CHEL and Be a Pro mode and make something truly magical.
I don’t have any complaints about any bugs or anything functionality-wise, but I have seen some of the bugs and glitches from the game from others. I did receive some disconnections while attempting to play ONES. But usually, it was the other players that were dropping out.
Any NHL fans know that the latest NHL game is a must by. There are some tweaks from 19, but maybe not enough to satisfy the hardcore player. CHEL and Be a Pro fans should be satisfied, unless they play other sports games and see the lack of story or depth that characters can have. Even with these gripes, NHL 20 still stands as an amazing sports game that will continue to have no competition.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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+ NHL hockey for all play styles
+ New features in older modes add some gameplay
+ ONES Elimination (Battle Royal) is a neat challenge
+ Tons of customization for CHEL created players
- HUT is very Pay-to-Win
- Be a Pro mode needs a great story to grab you
- Some connectivity issues (that may have been other players though. Was inconsistent)