NHL 19 (Xbox One) Review

By Nikola Suprak 08.10.2018

Review for NHL 19 on Xbox One

Benjamin Franklin once said nothing is certain but death and taxes. He didn't know about EA Sports, because if he had he would have thrown yearly sports game releases on that list. EA continues to churn out the latest yearly sports games like clockwork, and if they ever fail to do so, it is time to invest in underground bunkers because clearly humanity is on the verge of a total societal collapse. NHL 19 is the latest title to hit shelves, and it should be no surprise to everyone that it is very, very good. This may be one of those few times when very, very good might not be enough to warrant a purchase.

The controls are just as tight as past instalments of this title, and all three control schemes work incredibly well. The amount of control it gives players over puck handling is incredible, and taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the system here is a must. There are more basic controls for less hardcore players, keeping in the tradition of classic hockey games of old. Once the player gets a hang on deking, stick dragging, and doing crazy in-between the legs movements, though, it is hard to go back to the old way. There is a control scheme here for all levels of players, including an in-between mode that mixes the two together, and the main reason this is so addictive is because of how well the action controls.

Screenshot for NHL 19 on Xbox One

Something else NHL 19 truly excels at is depth. There is almost an embarrassing amount of content here, and it is almost impossible to even envision what else it could have added at this point. There is quick play, online play, and season mode to put together the standard package that exists in every sports game ever in the past ten years or so. Then again, there are modes like Threes, Franchise, World of Chel, and Hockey Ultimate Team, and that isn't even listing all the major modes. To put this in perspective, someone could play Franchise mode every day and still not even come close to scratching the surface of the content. Sure, it is all hockey, but the implementation across the modes is unique enough that it all feels like a slightly different experience and really is going to push people to keep playing.

Chel is probably the biggest addition, and the most interesting. There are a lot of different facets to it, but they are all aimed at giving players the opportunity to open up various cosmetic features or perks to help distinguish between different players. It works as a sort of online hub, with several different modes to choose from and the ability to level up as victories are accrued. Each time you level up, a hockey bag will be earned that is essentially like a loot crate and contains a random assortment as cosmetic goodies to slap on the players. Levelling up also allows for stat customisation, so the player really is creating their team here down to the kind of players they want and how everyone looks. It is a great system, and one that will keep people coming back for more. This is just about the best way the team could integrate online play, and out of all the sports titles out this year, [i]NHL 19[i] feels like it has the most robust online component out of all of them. All these modes can be played offline, too, making it just about perfect for a jump in and play kind of game.

Screenshot for NHL 19 on Xbox One

The best thing here is there is a play style for just about everyone. The franchise mode is incredibly deep and will keep hardcore micro-managers busy for months. There are so many ways to build up a team and so many things to get involved in, that there really isn't much more the developer could do to franchise mode without it feeling like an actual job at this point. Of course, this is probably too daunting for a lot of people who just want to shoot pucks and nets and maybe punch another person on skates in the face for looking at their goalie the wrong way. There are plenty of modes for this style of play, too, and a lot of modes will just let people play as their favourite team for a quick game against the computer or an online opponent. Then there are modes in-between these two extremes that have a little bit of extra stuff but not too much to leave people feeling overwhelmed. It is just a great package, from top to bottom, and will satisfy everyone no matter how deep they want their experience to be.

Screenshot for NHL 19 on Xbox One

The game isn't perfect, but most of the issues are minor. Some of the modes have an overreliance on micro-transactions, something that is especially true in the Hockey Ultimate Team mode. In this mode, you start with a mostly garbage team of no names but can eventually build your team up to a true super team by opening up random packs of cards. Cards can be bundled together and exchanged for higher quality cards, unlocked by obtaining in-game currency from completing certain tasks, and purchased using actual funds. It isn't quite play to win, but it is certainly pay to save a lot of time and be competitive immediately. There are ways around this, but it is a shame more effort wasn't put into organically unlocking packs instead of the clear focus on buying your way to competitiveness quickly. The rest of the game is micro-transaction-free, though, so this is more of a minor complaint about a single mode.

The biggest issue here is that things aren't all that different from last year… or even five years ago. The target audience for this is certainly hockey fans, but hockey fans might also have the least reason to buy it because they have undoubtedly played a recent release in this series. This is an absolute must buy if you have stayed away from the series for any length of time because this is essentially the best hockey game available anywhere. Then again, though, people who played NHL 18 may not have a major incentive to play NHL 19. There are new rosters and a couple of minor upgrades, but there is only so much you can do to a title like this to make it feel new and the developer doesn't really accomplish that. It is thoroughly entertaining, but if someone doesn't want to keep up with the yearly release schedule, that would be totally understandable, as well.

Screenshot for NHL 19 on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

NHL 19 is somehow both great and a bit disappointing. Sure, this is the best hockey game yet, with an almost impossible amount of depth. This is the kind of game you can play all year and still not feel like having even really scratched the surface. It is good sit down and play for a couple of hours or just jump in for one game and then head out to do something else, but at the same time, this barely feels like an upgrade over last year's version or the year before that. It's the same iteration of game over and over again, each slightly superior to the one before it. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but at the same time this might be a hard purchase to justify for new rosters and a couple different modes. It is still a great title, but one that has definitely been seen before.


EA Sports


EA Sports





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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