As hockey games go, this franchise is still the best there is. NHL 23 folds in more to the already stellar series thanks to adding female players, new animations, some beefed-up A.I., and cross-platform play coming soon, but don't expect a huge leap over last year's game. If it's been a while since you've bought an "Chel" game from EA Sports, NHL 23 is as good as it gets. When you boot up the game, you'll first notice the slicker broadcast-like presentation. Last year's game introduced EA's Frostbite engine to the series, which continues here, but you'll also see new pre-game, mid-game and post-game flare, including highlights of the big moments, a more responsive crowd, and fancier stat presentations during the game. EA Sports says there are more than 500 new animations, so fans of the game series will notice these right off the bat, too (er, or stick), including many more goalie moves. Get a hat trick and watch what gets thrown onto the ice by fans.
The meaty Franchise now gives you more options, too, to fully customize what you want out of this mode -- from the league you want to number of teams and divisions to length of games, home versus away games, and so on -- but not much has changed in scouting, contracts, trading, front office management, and so on. NHL 23 also marks the first year that the IIHF Women's National Team is in HUT (Hockey Ultimate Team), which is great to see (and control) female players rendered on screen. World of Chel has more customization options, as noted, too. Aside from better goalie A.I. (for the most part), the other modes are largely untouched. Those who created a character and played through the Be A Pro mode in NHL 22 will likely be frustrated it's not possible to import a saved file from last year. Cross-play -- that allows PS4 and Xbox One games to play online together, or PS5 and Xbox Series S/X players -- hasn't been included at launch, so it's unsure if it will be newsworthy. Overall, NHL 23 fuses style with substance, to justify the purchase for hockey fans, but only if it's been a couple of years since you've stepped on the ice in this game.