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‘NHL 23’ release date, gameplay: Expect smarter AI goalies, new ‘last-chance’ moves, return of X-Factor abilities

Roman Polak #45 of the Dallas Stars moves the puck against the Nashville Predators during the game, part of an annual outdoor NHL series Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / RONALD MARTINEZ

With the “NHL 23” release date just around the corner, fans of EA’s professional ice hockey simulation video game series are understandably excited about what the latest instalment has to offer. Expect exciting changes to gameplay, such as new ‘last-chance’ moves, better AI goalkeepers, and the return of X-Factor abilities from “NHL 22.”

‘NHL 23’ release date and platform

Thankfully, fans won’t have to wait for long before they get their hands on the latest instalment of EA’s professional ice hockey simulation video game series. The “NHL 23” release date will be on October 14, 2022.

The game will be launched for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One. However, it will not be available for PC and Nintendo Switch.

‘NHL 23’ cover athletes

“NHL 23” will feature two cover athletes this year, which is a significant change from the previous games of the series. Sarah Nurse of Team Canada and ace Anaheim Ducks player Trevor Zegras are the two sports stars that will be featured on the cover. Aside from being the first game in the series to feature two cover athletes, “NHL 23” is also the first game to feature a female athlete on the cover, according to GameSpot.

It’s not unusual for EA Sports to have two cover athletes, and the practice is really gaining popularity. For instance, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady graced the cover of Madden “NFL 22,” while Kylian Mbappe and Sam Kerr graced the cover of “FIFA 23.”

‘NHL 23’ gameplay changes

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the gameplay that will be introduced by “NHL 23” are “last-chance” moves, which allow players to make desperate moves such as shooting and passing from their knees after they fall on the ice. This attempts to mimic what happens in the NHL by introducing exciting, highlight-reel goals to the game.

Similarly, “NHL 23” has also been updated to include the “Zegras flip.” As Zegras did in the previous season, this will enable players to alley-oop the puck to a player in front of the goal. The game now includes more than 500 “last-chance” moves, according to EA.

More save animations and smarter goalkeepers

EA claims that AI goalies are also smarter and better. Flashy grabs will appear more realistic this year because of the enlarged library of a desperation save animations that goalies have access to. According to EA, there are roughly 350 new save animations in all, which are more “active” and acrobatic than in previous games.

X-Factor abilities are back

The X-Factor abilities from “NHL 22” are back in “NHL 23,” along with some brand-new ones inspired by the cover athletes. For instance, “Relentless” mimics Nurse’s off-balance shots and passes. “Skilled Up,” a new X-Factor ability, enables players to execute quick moves like Zegras’ lacrosse-inspired goals.

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