Insiders Review – NHL 21

Going into the Arena to Give an Insider’s Look and Review of The Latest Electronic Arts Debut, NHL 21

Is NHL 21 worth the money? Is NHL 21 worth the time and effort? Gamer Ninja answers those equations and more.


Electronic Sports NHL 21 Horizontal Banner Logo Gamer Ninja

Electronic Sports NHL 21 Horizontal Banner Logo


Are Sports Video Games in 2020 Even a Thing Anymore?

Short of the most popular sports video game ever, Madden NFL of course, sports games, in general, the past few years have not been making much of an impact on the video game circuit as they once had. The only time recently I can recall even watching a streamer play a sports video gamer was when Dr DisRespect and Snoop Dogg joined forces a few weeks back on YouTube and went head to head playing Madden. Although it was clear the “Doc” was having fun, but you could see. It was just as apparent on his face as it is in the heart and minds of so many today. Action and Battle Royal style games bring adrenalin fun-filled moments, and even with a game like Madden, sports games, in general, have that “stop and pause” mentality. For a person such as the mega rapper turned video game streamer, Snoop Dog, the lull between plays is perfect as it gives him time to puff on a blunt or two.

Is NHL 21 Worth the Money, Effort, and Grind?

Right now, it is not easy being a newly released video game. Especially a sports game, double especially if the sport in the video game is hockey. Hockey, in general, is such a niche sport, but amazingly the NHL’s viewership larger than many would expect. If you wrap college hockey into the mix, hockey does have a leg to stand on. The question remains though, how much of the national hockey viewership in America and across the globe are willing to drop $59.99 on a video game?

According to a sports-focused Gallup poll sampled last spring asking Americans which major sports do they prefer and watch, hockey came in fourth in the top five most popular sports in America. So, people do like hockey and if you are one of those people, I am going to drop an early article spoiler and predict that is a 50/50 chance even a die-hard EA MHL fan will come out happy and satisfied with NHL 21.

EA’s NHL Franchise Needs to Orchestrate Releases Better, I Mean Really EA?

This is it for NHL games for now and even after the next generation consoles release just prior to Christmas. Unlike NBA 2K21, FIFA 21, and Madden NFL 21, NHL 21 is not scheduled to be given a root once the PS5 and Xbox Series X become available to purchase. The next NHL 21 season release does not drop until January 2021. So, unless NHL 21 flies in somehow under backwards compatibility wire, which Xbox’s Phil Spencer did say he they have an amazing backwards compatibility team right now who are doing “Wonderful and amazing things” while getting ready for the Xbox Series X launch. For now, Xbox One and PS4 console players are exclusive to NHL 21, and everyone else, do not anticipate playing NHL 21 anytime soon on either PS5 or XSX. 

One Ice Graphics Review of NHL 21 Players Look Real and Area is Awesome

Reviewing the graphics of NHL 21


Off Timing Once Again for a Hockey Video Game

For those EA NHL purists, right now is sluggish time to put out an “authentic” NHL video game that is supposed to provide its players a whopping dose of realism, that more or less should blow them away when compared to NHL 20. I assume EA would have planned an NHL 21 release before the end of the Stanley Cup Final, you know when more than those who really love Hockey are sort of in hockey? Ok, the final game of the Stanley Cup was September 28, 2020, and EA released NHL 21 on October 16, 2020?  So, here we are half a month after the Stanley Cup was hoisted. Just like the Superbowl is for die-hard football fans, the Stanley Cup signals “Ok, enough hockey until next year”. Then, the 2021 NHL roster isn’t even released yet, but here we are playing NHL 21?

EA’s NHL 21 Official Gameplay Trailer from YouTube


How is NHL’s Gameplay?

The real-life sport of hockey is fast, NHL 21 is not. EA still has not come close to perfecting the realism that is playing hockey in an ice arena and using hockey sticks to score goals with a little, solid rubber puck. Put aside that lack of feel and their distance NHL 21 and its previous releases fall short of feeling as you are actually playing a real game, I am talking about the flow between the ice and everything else. Ok, I get it, it is not real-life, but EA has bridged this gap with games such as Madden NFL and FIFA, but when it comes to the NHL games, all one has to do is talk with actual players of the sport, and they will tell. EA and NHL 21 fall way short of a realist game experience.

NHL 21 Xbox One DVD Packaging Featured Game Review on Gamer Ninja

NHL 21 Xbox One Package


When it comes down to it, NHL 21 does have its good points. It is an improvement over NHL 20 as far as graphics and some minor gameplay attributes, but the overall disappointments outweigh any of the new updates and positives. In the end, I was personally disappointed with this game that I almost put it down quicker than I picked it. How EA Sports can make such realistic sports games such as Madden NFL and FIFA, then continuously fall well short of the mark when it comes to NHL, year after year, I have no clue. I could understand if this was the second or third year into this game’s franchise, but this is a video game franchise that released debuted in 1991. It’s been almost thirty years and NHL has progressed so poorly compared to other sports video game franchises. My only conclusion would be NHL is something that EA does not take seriously and has never taken seriously. 


We could sit here and grill down on all that is poor with this game, such as the player rating system, but why? This game was once again a disappointment for me, and although I would not say NHL 21 isn’t even close to the size of a letdown that NHL 15 was, couple this again with its release timing and no consideration with he next-gen c0onsoles being released, I am declaring NHL 21 a “letdown” on its own level.

Gamer Ninja’s recommendation for NHL 21 is to save yourself $60 and use the money to buy another game that the creator puts real effort into.

1/5 (1 Review)