NHL 22 looks and plays pucking brilliant in Frostbite!

Ice Hockey is a fun sport to watch but it also works really well as a video game.

If you didn’t already know that by playing the early 16 bit variations, then more recently EA have been doing a pretty fine job with the franchise.

The NHL series doesn’t tend to get the level of praise as FIFA or Madden, but for me, it’s often more enjoyable and this years might be my favourite for some long time.

It’s certainly one of the more exciting editions because for the first time the game is making use of the Frostbite engine. To me, that seems strange in of itself, seeing as pretty much every EA game is already on it. Yet, here we are, and the results are, for the most part, pretty great.

Some of the character models look a bit rough at times – particularly managers – and audience members are quite clearly identifiable as background fare, but the look of the arenas, the skidding ice effects, eye movement, the dazzling lights and celebrations are simply stunning.

Frankly, the NHL series should have been on this engine a long time ago because the look, style and feel fits it like a glove. It gives the franchise new-found energy, it adds a big-time feel to matches, and everything just feels a whole lot more big budget and high profile. The game’s presentation with fresh overlays also feels closer to watching a live broadcast than any game in the franchise before it.

The game is also just incredibly good fun, with rapid responsiveness on the righ stick for slapshots and chip ins. Unlike some other sports games, I actually felt in solid control of the puck. Sliding it over to my teammates, rebounding it around the arena, blocking it from going into the back of my own net.

And on PS5, through the DualSense, I got a real feeling of being live at an arena with music blaring out of the speakers and the haptics drumming in my hands as I skated around. It gives this incredible surround effect that makes you feel like you’re inside, roof closed, shoulder to shoulder with fans and teammates.

EA are describing this as breakthrough hockey and it’s easy to see why. Especially with the other new implementation, Superstar X-Factors. In NHL 22 you’ll often be competing against – sometimes with – extraordinary established players with unique attributes.

These legends of the ice have their own signature style, moves and mannerisms they’re known for. Some go a little faster around the ice, some have lightning quick reflexes, others are ridiculously accurate, and some will even curve the puck or offer a little bit of showmanship before taking control.

The point is these Superstar players have something no one else can claim and it seperates them on the ice. It’s actually really neat because you may be dominating a game but all it takes is for that one star to break away and they can quickly even up the odds.

Of course, a team can only have a certain amount of stars, which is a good thing really as it could quickly get out of balance, and if you’re building your own Pro you can add your own perks and abilities through a skill-tree.

Be a Pro does feel a bit limited and stunted, though, especially when compared to the bigger budget offerings you’ll find in FIFA or indeed NBA 2K. You pick a team and a league, play a few games, answer tons of questions in a semi-monotonous way, which determines your star quality and team mentality, and keep playing games in-between. It’s fine, and certainly can be enjoyable to progress but it definitely feels like it’s missing the ‘X-Factor’.

For the most part, NHL 22 is much the same game as it always has been with the same modes you found in previous years, little different about them. From lifting the Stanley Cup to the Franchise Mode and Chel League, there’s variety here and plenty to digest for newer players, less so for series regulars.

The experience still feels fast, fluid, responsive, and enjoyable on the ice, which, honestly, is all that matters, and Frostbite is certainly going to prove to be a great addition to the franchise. A few random hardcrashes, lens flickering and camera issues aside, you feel like the current gen journey for this franchise is only just getting started.

NHL 22 may be finding its feet a little bit with its new engine and mechanics, but it’s the one sports-game I’ll definitely keep going back to this year!


+ Frostbite feels like a natural fit for NHL
+ On ice action controls and flows incredibly well
+ Great soundtrack, surround and environmental effects with DualSense
+ X-Factor Superstars means a game is never over until its over


– Be a Pro mode can get dull quite quickly
– Some hard crashes and bugs affect performance
– Mode variety isn’t a huge evolution from previous years

NHL 22 is now available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox

Played on PlayStation 5

Code Kindly Provided by EA

About the author

Jay Jones

Jay is a massive football fan - Manchester Utd in case you were wondering - and lover of gaming. He'll play just about anything, but his vice is definitely Ultimate Team.
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