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NHL 20

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
NHL 20 Game Poster Image
Excellent hockey game takes to ice with vast improvements.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Like previous games in this popular hockey video game series, NHL 20 aims to replicate the National Hockey League (NHL) experience. Players can hit the ice as their favorite team and players. While the game showcases team sports, this is a contact sport that allows for fistfights during matches (just like in the real NHL league).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Similar to other team-based sports games, you don’t play as one particular character in NHL 20, so there isn’t one protagonist that serves as a role model. That said, the players look like their real-life counterparts, so if they’re a positive role model in real life, it can be argued the same goes in game – but the opposite is true as well.

Ease of Play

More so than in past years, NHL 20 is easy to pick up and play, thanks to smooth controls that focus heavily on the dual analog sticks: one to control your player’s body, and the other to shoot and pass in a given direction. There's an on-ice trainer who teaches you moves and explains why they’re important, which should be helpful for novice players.

Violence

The action's fast and physical, and directly based on the contact sport of NHL hockey. While the players wear protective gear, gamers can slam into opposing characters, sandwich them against the boards and even engage in a fistfight. When this happens, the camera focuses on the two players and it becomes a brawling mini-game of sorts. But no blood or gore is shown.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

NHL 20's arenas have advertisements just like the real hockey arenas do. It can be on the edges of the rink, on the ice, in the stands, on the Jumbo-tron or worn on the players. Brands include Bauer, Gatorade, EA Sports, Gamestop, STX, Honda, Easton, Rogers, Tim Hortons, and many others. The game also supports optional pay elements, like the card collecting in Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT) mode.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NHL 20 is a hockey simulation game for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. As you might expect from a hockey simulation. gameplay can be mildly violent at times, such as body-checking someone or engaging in a fistfight on the ice (just like the real sport). No blood or gore is shown during these brawls. Players will also see a lot of ads for products like Gatorade, Tim Hortons, and others posted on arenas, on players, and even on the ice. Players will also have the option to pay real money to purchase players, gear, and other items for the Hockey Ultimate Team mode.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

EA Sports has just hit the ice with NHL 20, the latest installment in the ice hockey franchise. Directly based on the National Hockey League (NHL), this new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One title lets you play as or against your favorite hockey stars and teams -- even from yesteryear -- with a handful of solo and multiplayer modes (whether you're beside your adversary or playing against them online). EA Sports is touting several new features for this new game, tied to the 2019-20 season, including more than 45 new shot types (called "Superstar Signature Shots") that look like they were delivered by the real players (as well as many other new animations). There's also enhanced goaltender artificial intelligence (A.I.) including predictive analysis. Along with a new TV-like broadcast treatment (including new play-by-play and color commentary) and Play Of The Game highlights sizzle reel, there are all-new game modes to indulge in. That includes a battle royale-esque Eliminator option in NHL ONES and NHL THREES modes, where you'll play solo or team up with friends to take down the competition, and Squad Battles, a new introduction to the Hockey Ultimate Team mode that lets you compete and earn big rewards in offline battles.

Is it any good?

This year's installment in the popular hockey franchise feels like a massive overhaul that fans will love as soon as they strap on their digital skates. NHL 20 looks, feels and sounds like there were vast improvements made in every feature. The new modes bring a lot to the game, especially with Eliminator, a highly competitive winner-takes-all game inside the beloved NHL ONES and NHL THREES modes. Just like Fortnite: Battle Royale drops you on an island with 99 others, NHL 20 Eliminator pits 81 players against each other in a survival tournament bracket to be crowned the ultimate winner. You can play by yourself in a last-man (or woman) standing game in NHL ONES, or join a squad of three in THREES and try to win four back-to-back elimination rounds against increasingly competitive opponents. Another highlight includes the Squad Battles mode (perhaps borrowed from EA Sports' FIFA games) with refreshed opponents daily, a weekly Featured Squads group consisting of NHL players, musical artists, and athletes from other sports, and up to 400 industry Icons. CHEL Challenges in the socially-driven World of CHEL mode adds weekly in-game events spread across several modes, in order to unlock fun customization rewards, character XP, and more. It's even added local multiplayer support for the ONES mode, offline outdoor pond mode (yes, even with NHL mascots!), and an updated Franchise mode for coaching and trading players.

Just as important as adding new ways to play is the way the game feels. It feels tighter, faster, and complimented by new animations including Signature Shots. The player models may look the same as last year's game, but animations have been improved and the new broadcast package adds new graphics (as well as solid play-by-play and color) to the overall experience. There isn't much to complain about with NHL 20. The developers really seem to have ticked off all the boxes -- and then some. From better controls and new animations to sleek TV-like production quality and additional modes, EA Sports shoots and scores with this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about marketing in games. Is the pursuit of realistic gameplay in sports games like NHL 20 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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