NHL 19: Release Date, Top Player Ratings, New Features, Preview and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2018

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) takes a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres Monday, March 19, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

EA Sports' NHL series took a step forward one year ago, innovating in the gameplay department and adding some fun side modes like NHL Threes. 

These forward-looking moves, including the implementation of an expansion draft themed around the Las Vegas Knights, keyed a well-reviewed game (77 Metacritic rating) that has created a windfall of hype for NHL 19. 

Available Friday, September 14, NHL 19 looks to innovate further with out-of-stadium ventures and a heavy emphasis on online modes, including cooperative, as well as a progression system that tracks a user's gameplay regardless of mode. 

Built atop a strong base game already, NHL 19 looks to be another big step forward for the long-running series. 


Top Player Ratings

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers: 94

2. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins: 93

3. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals: 92

4. Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings: 92

5. Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens: 92

6. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning: 91

7. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning: 91

8. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks: 91

9. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins: 91

10. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: 91

Full player ratings available at EASports.com.


New Features

A year ago, new deke moves and the Defensive Skill Stick helped redefine the on-ice gameplay. 

That was just the beginning. 

Real Player Motion is now making its way to EA Sports' NHL offering, which promises more control in the hands of users and an improved ability to make more sudden stops and cuts on the ice. This is a game-wide change, so it should improve the feel at all levels, even if players don't have the puck. 

Alongside this anticipated arrival in the gameplay department comes another: revamped collision physics. EA Sports explained what goes into deciding the outcome of each collision in this year's offering: 

"In addition to a players' size, strength and hitting skill, Collision Physics will require you to think about details like angles, speed, and positioning when deciding whether to commit to a check or not. Hit tracking has undergone improvements that produce realistic collisions and give you more directional control over your hitting."

Of course, users expect gameplay and graphical enhancements—like last year, the fun comes via innovation in other departments. 

The big talking point this year is dubbed World of CHEL. A new game hub combining all game modes old and new, it serves as a way to unify rewards across all game modes. A user's created character can now earn skills and rewards across all modes. 

This new hub and the unity it brings to the game itself walks side by side with a new suite of customization features. Not only does this apply to gear and looks, but weaves in player skill details such as traits and specialties. Mixing and matching these gives users new-feeling ways to play the game and roles to unearth and sound useful not only in traditional game modes but in some of the more arcade-esque situations. 

Of course, when it comes to gear, this is a nod to cover star P.K. Subban

"P.K. Subban really embodies what we love about what’s going on in the NHL with all these young stars who are more expressive, more creative on the ice and also off the ice," creative director William Ho said, according to Steven Loung of SportsNet. "I think they’re capturing the spirit that is really bringing new fans into NHL the league and NHL the game."

As mentioned, NHL Threes was a fun addition a year ago. EA Sports has seen the praise, if not requests for more things outside of traditional modes like this, and come up with NHL Ones, which is exactly what it sounds like. A one-on-one-on-one showdown between friends, the new mode promises no rules or stoppages and a daily leaderboard to track progress. 

The personality and arcade feel EA Sports seeks here also comes up in the locales department with the franchise-first arrival of the great outdoors. Scenic backdrops instead of roaring crowds and arena announcers should offer a welcoming fresh take on the sport. 

As if all this wasn't enough, NHL 19 weaves in legends for the first time after an agreement with the NHL Alumni Association, meaning the biggest names from the prestigious sport's history will now be available for use across all game modes. 

Notice the trend? This one is all about the players and breaking free of stale shackles. Customization at seemingly every level makes NHL 19 an intriguing option for fans, especially if the new physics bring the game closer to its real-life counterpart. 


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