A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NHL 19 is the latest installment in the hockey simulation franchise for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Gameplay can be mildly violent at times, with hockey players body-checking opponents, crushing them against the boards, or engaging in a fistfight on the ice, although no blood is shown. While there's no other inappropriate content to be found in the game, there's a ton of advertising in stadiums, on players, on the ice, and during the game presentation. Players can also spend real money to unlock additional content for some game modes.
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What's it about?
NHL 19 lets hockey fans hit the ice in the latest hockey simulation from EA Sports. As with previous years, NHL 19 lets you play as or against your favorite hockey players and teams from the National Hockey League in real-world arenas and now, on outdoor rinks, like how the sport was born. There are multiple modes to play outside in the EA Sports Hockey League, such as NHL Threes mode, Play Now, and brand-new modes like Pro-Am and NHL Ones. In NHL Ones, you and two other players compete in a 1-versus-1-versus-1 ("1v1v1") free-for-all. Also new to the series is the ability to play as more than 200 of the greatest hockey legends of all time, including Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky (who graces the cover in a special edition version of the game), Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, and others. NHL 19 also introduces World of CHEL, a brand-new game hub featuring new and returning "Create-a-Character" modes that let you design your character and progress to earn custom gear, equipment, and more than 900 new apparel customization options -- including lifestyle clothing like hoodies, beanies, and jackets to wear on the frozen pond.
Is it any good?
While there are a few slips here and there on the ice, this is easily worth the price of admission for hockey fanatics. The first thing fans of NHL 19 will notice are the sheer number of game modes you can choose from. This isn't a game you can bore of easily, because of the numerous ways to play -- whether you want a quick pickup game by yourself, with a friend beside you, or online. Playing outside on frozen ponds and other rinks looks and feels great, and kicks it up a notch when you start spending virtual currency on unlocking new street apparel for your players. Along with the deep Be a Pro career mode, the engaging Franchise mode is a blast for those looking for more content. It adds in GM considerations, including new scouting options, trades, salary cap considerations, and many more decisions you need to make on and off the ice. If you want more of an arcade experience, Threes is super fun as a fast-paced 3-versus-3 game.
A special treat for serious hockey fans, inclusion of the hockey legends in the game will be enough to justify the new disc or download, since there are so many you can play as or against in the new Pro-Am mode, which features a series of challenges. Of course, all the existing teams are here too (even the Las Vegas Golden Knights), along with the option to play as other leagues, such as the AHL (American Hockey League), national teams, and several international leagues from Europe and elsewhere. The presentation quality is top-notch, with broadcast-like graphics and bone-crushing sound effects. More importantly, the controls are fast and responsive. One minor disappointment is with the new CHEL hub tied to the fun, over-the-top Ones mode, played on ponds. What's the issue? This 1v1v1 game is online-only -- so you can't play with someone beside you. Apart from this, and the lack of a Switch version, NHL 19 is great, delivering many different modes, players, and locations and improved controls and production values. Hockey lovers will no doubt want to lace up and play this one for many months to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing in games. Is the pursuit of realistic gameplay in sports games like NHL 19 worth the in-game commercials, ad placement, and messages that are constantly bombarding players? Is that just part of sports today?
If the developers release a free downloadable update to account for changing team rosters, do you really need to buy one every year? Can you skip a year or two, or do the new features and better graphics justify the purchase?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.