NHL 22 Review: No Need to Fix What Isn't Broken

The NHL game series from EA Sports has been the strongest sports game franchise on the market for the past couple of years, at least. A consistently smooth experience that caters to experienced players and newcomers alike, with enough different game modes to keep folks entertained for the long haul, NHL has been a few steps ahead of the competition. That remains mostly true with the debut of NHL 22. The move to next gen consoles has allowed other franchises to gain a little ground on NHL, seeing as how it took the smallest step forward this year, but the hockey experience from EA continues to be the best around.

The graphic improvement from NHL 21 to NHL 22 is easily noticeable, but that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Everything got a graphics upgrade thanks to the introduction of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. The haptic feedback in the PS5 controller is a nice touch for next gen and the gameplay is cleaner than before. Really, that's where you'll find most of the differences between 21 and 22

Outside of changes that come from a new console generation, not a lot is different in NHL 22. Usually that's a big complaint with sports video games, as many stay the same year after year. Most of those games that people complain about, however, are mediocre entries that don't fix problems from one installment to the next. NHL 20 and NHL 21 are great games, so very little change was needed going into NHL 22. EA really stuck to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra here, which was clearly the right decision. 

The major new element in NHL 22 is the emphasis on X-Factor abilities, allowing players' skills to be more focused in very specific areas. It's a nice tough, and it helps those new to the series better understand what different NHL stars are good at, but it doesn't make a ton of difference on the ice. Your build for a created player is important, and the skills you choose do matter, but the addition of X-Factor feels minimal at best. It would be hard to notice if the menus and announcers didn't bring it up so often.

There are some improvements that could be made in NHL 22, though they're all fairly minimal. Making changes to your team in HUT — swapping jerseys, etc. — is needlessly complicated. Everything in that menu requires the long way around. The vibrations in the PS5 controllers are more aggressive than some players will like, causing more of a distraction than a realistic experience. It's all nitpicky stuff, really.

NHL 22 didn't do a whole lot to improve on its predecessor, but it didn't have to. The important part is that the development team didn't do anything to change the game for the worse. The franchise was already a ship sailing smoothly, all anyone needed to do was keep it steady. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

A copy of NHL 22 on PlayStation 5 was provided for the purpose of this review.