NHL 19 hopes to have players spending plenty of time on the ice in World of CHEL, the game’s brand new hub and ecosystem. It’s here that players will be able to take the action to the pond for the first time ever, and it’s here that customized players will be able to flaunt their flow as they do a handstand as the goal horn blares firetruck noises.
Depending on who you ask that’s either heaven or hell, but those are the differences that injecting personality bring you in a game.
We had the opportunity to check out each new game mode within World of CHEL, an area that NHL 19 creative director William Ho is confident will be a hit with fans. Of course, before players get started they’ll need to make an avatar for themselves. The Create-A-Player system has expanded with more options than NHL 18 had, and that’s largely in part due to the focus on customizable content in World of CHEL.
Once players have designed their avatar – obligatory “sick flow, bro” – the abundance of customizable gear options really becomes apparent: NHL 19 has over 1,000 selections to choose from when it comes to crafting one’s character. Players can pick from a wide variety of branded NHL gear, custom sticks, and street styles clothes that range from serious to silly (expect plaid pajamas, graffiti jackets, and plenty of bright colours). There’s also custom celebrations and audio horn / emote noises for when players score a goal or deliver a big hit. All told, the 900 wardrobe options and 300 audio selections allows players to imprint their own personality into World of CHEL. From what we’ve garnered, players should expect even more gear to be added down the line, too.
NHL Ones was the most exciting prospect for us, as it allows for quick and immediate action: players will go 1v1v1 in a no rules half-rink match. They have 3 minutes to put as many pucks into the back of the net as they can, and players who can skate and check well will absolutely shine here. Veterans of the franchise will be in for a humbling start, as the brand new Real Player Motion system has a huge impact on how skaters accelerate, turn, and deliver hits.
Players will have a chance to progress through four areas at the fictional Carter Lake pond hockey location every single day, starting with Tier 4 (a parking lot full of rinks and small crowds). With a few wins against online opposition, they’ll then progress to Tier 3 and be on the lake itself, then Tier 2 at the docks. Only the best players of the day will make it to top tier (called The Ring), which has much larger crowds and a Crashed Ice-inspired party setup. It’s here that the day’s top players will be rewarded for their efforts in the form of rare hockey bags that contain cosmetic unlocks:
So we have a pool of hockey bags with the casual gear in them. There’s a certain pool that you draw from, but then whoever is the daily champion gets an uber rare bag. We haven’t really nailed down the number, but a certain Top X for each day will also get a different hockey bag. Potentially, you could play every day and keep earning rewards until you complete that pool.
We found that Ones brought the most trash talk and banter, and the half-rink setup lead to some brutal hits happening in the sharp corners of the half-rink. With three players rushing in to get the loose puck, the new RPM physics engine really has its work cut out as the bodies start flying. It handles it well.
NHL Threes has made its grand return, and it allows for fast action that players can quickly hop into through circuit mode or drop-in action. Players unlock new teammates and customization options as they progress through Threes, and these range from NHL players past-and-present all the way to team mascots with pretty good on-ice stats. With decorative rinks and a variety of arcade style rules (for instance, the next goal could be worth 2 and takes away 1 point from your opponent), it’s a pretty fun, stress-free way to enjoy the game.
The NHL Pro-AM mode seems to be targeted towards new players, as it’ll ease them into the process of player locking and implementing strategy beyond just taking the puck and rushing in. It’s fairly tame compared to the other modes, but players will be able to utilize their custom player, pick a position, and learn up the basics of the game through a variety of set challenges featuring a wide variety of past-and-present NHL players.
The EA Sports Hockey League also returns and let’s players drop into matches and clubs, picking between either 3v3 or 6v6 action. Players will pick from 12 classes (e.g. sniper, power forward, butterfly goalie) and take the action into the online league system. This has been around for a few iterations of NHL, and fans should expect more of what they’re used to.
World of CHEL does a great job in bringing a variety of different playing opportunities to the masses. Playing a 1v1v1 game out on the pond is a completely different experience than completing challenges in Pro-AM, which in turn feels completely different than competing online in the EASHL. The World of CHEL is pretty diverse, and we talked away impressed with how much fun the combined experience was.
Of course, that isn’t to say that all of EA Sports’ attention went to World of CHEL. There may not be a cinematic story mode this year, but this cycle of the annual title was a huge one in terms of general gameplay enhancements and Franchise Mode tweaks. When the game comes out in September, fans can be the judge on if NHL 19‘s new physics engine delivers a real hit.
NHL 19 will release on September 14, 2018 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
You can find John on Twitter at @Makelevi, where by now he’s probably posted his favorite custom NHL 19 gear. It’s…it’s pretty dope.