NHL 21 Delayed Next-Gen Versions Not Happening This Year
EA has announced that the release date for NHL 21 has been pushed back to October, as opposed to its normal September launch window. While EA Vancouver transitioned to developing the game from home this year, the developer stressed that the game will not be compromised in any way. However, NHL 21 will not feature upgrades on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Overall, fans are not too happy with delay or the fact that the game will not see a next-gen version this year. Following the announcement, fans took to social media to air their grievances with the publisher.
In a post on the game’s website, the community team has promised that we’ll get a definite release date, a first look, and “plans for the next-gen consoles” in August, and NHL 21 has been confirmed for PS4 and Xbox One. PS5 and Xbox Series X will not receive their own versions, but the game will be playable on those systems through backwards compatibility.
The delay has come due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed work on the game.
“We’re happy to say that the game is on track and feature-complete against our original vision, we just need a few extra weeks to do the polish, fine tuning, and bug fixing,”
“We know some of you will be disappointed by this news, but our goal with NHL 21 is to deliver an experience that will be worth the wait.”
— EA SPORTS NHL (@EASPORTSNHL) July 20, 2020
For the unfamiliar, or those that want a refresher, NHL missing out on the next-gen launch has been the routine for the past two cycles.
After lackluster versions of Madden NFL 06, FIFA 06, and NBA Live 06 stumbled their way into the Xbox 360’s November 2005 launch line-up, NHL 07 arrived a year later, and while bare-bones, came to the table with a revamped Skill Stick control system that set the franchise up for its best years ever.
EA put a similar strategy into effect eight years later for the 2013 launches of the PS4 and Xbox One, having Madden NFL 25 and FIFA 14 there day one this time with much safer and conservative ports (NBA Live wasn’t so lucky) while NHL had an extra year to make the transition away from the 360 and PS3.
With limited resources and the dev team struggling to adapt to the EA Sports-branded Ignite engine, NHL 15 made its PS4 and Xbox One debut in September 2014 as a shell of what the franchise had built itself up to be on the previous gen. The game looked incredible, but favourite modes like EASHL, GM Connected, Online Shoot-out, and the ’94 Anniversary mode were cut, while the ones that did remain Be A Pro and Be A GM were heavily scaled back, save for Hockey Ultimate Team. And gameplay-wise, nearly everything was either broken or glitchy aside from when the puck was on your stick.
NHL 20 players will also find that free HUT packs have been added to the in-game store, while some WOC bags are now available in inventories, to make up for the longer wait.
No official news on the demo/beta yet for NHL 21. Last year, everyone was given a chance to check out the new game from July 26-31, so be on the lookout for sometime around then too.