NHL 22: Release Date, Top Player Ratings, New Features, Preview and More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIOctober 10, 2021

TORONTO, ON - MAY 31:  Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens during Game Seven of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 31, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Map[le Leafs 3-1 to win series 4 games to 3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

When the first puck drops Tuesday night, the 2021-22 NHL season will be underway. Shortly after, gamers will have the opportunity to drop the virtual puck in NHL 22.

The newest edition of the annual EA Sports hockey title is released Friday. However, those who preordered the X-Factor Edition of NHL 22 can begin playing Tuesday.

This is a big year for the franchise, as NHL 22 marks the first edition of the game available to play on the new generation of consoles (PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X). So this has the potential to be the most realistic virtual hockey experience that's been created.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is on the cover for the second time. He was also on the front of NHL 20.

Here's everything else you need to know before jumping in and playing NHL 22.


Top Player Ratings

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid: 95

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon: 93

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby: 93

Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl: 93

Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane: 92

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman: 92

Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov: 92

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin: 92

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews: 92

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy: 92

Boston Bruins right winger David Pastrnak: 91

Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand: 91

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron: 91

New York Rangers left winger Artemi Panarin: 91

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel: 91

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck: 91

Full player ratings available at EASports.com.


New Features

For those seeking new game modes in NHL 22, you are not going to find them. There haven't been any monumental changes made to the franchise from last year's game, so there's going to be a sense of familiarity when you load the latest edition on to your console.

However, EA Sports has announced improvements and upgrades made to the game's existing modes.

The biggest addition to NHL 22 is the introduction of X-Factors, which are now part of various modes, including Ultimate Team, World of Chel, Be a Pro and Franchise. In Ultimate Team, you can add these power-up items to player cards and move them up through upgrade tiers, while you will also get to add X-Factor abilities to your customizable player in World of Chel.


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That will also be the case in Be a Pro, the career mode in which you will need to complete challenges to acquire new abilities, and Franchise, where X-Factor scouting reports will add even more to the mode.

World of Chel got an overhaul in its appearance, as the mode will have a redesigned hub, a new social widget and changing hub visuals. It's a fresh look for one of the game's most popular features.

In Franchise, it's worth noting that you can still begin with an expansion team, even though the Seattle Kraken have been added to this year's game. That means if you choose to jump in with an expansion draft, you'll be leading a 33rd NHL franchise.

While these are all welcomes additions and upgrades, the largest changes come with the gameplay.

NHL 22 will be the first game in the series to feature the Frostbite engine, which will take visuals and the playing experience to another level. The engine has been implemented in the Madden football series for numerous years, and now it will be utilized in this franchise as well.

There are also enhanced stick physics and augmented reality UI, so this virtual version of hockey is going to be the most realistic yet. It's another step toward an experience similar to the one that NHL fans enjoy while watching on TV.

So with EA Sports' NHL franchise heading into a new generation, this year's game should lay the groundwork for even more improvements and upgrades in the future. NHL 22 seems like it's going to be enjoyable to play, especially when you're on the ice.


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