NHL 21 review: A series skating on thin ice - Dexerto

NHL 21 review: A series skating on thin ice

Published: 22/Oct/2020 16:04

by Michael Gwilliam


EA’s flagship ice hockey game is back once again with NHL 21 and while there are a handful of overhauls to Be A Pro Mode, the wait for groundbreaking updates looks to be rolling on for another year. 

If you’ve played any NHL game in the past five years, you’ve probably accustomed to the controls, presentation, and general style of the game.

NHL 21 isn’t much different, offering up more of the same from what you’ve come to expect, with very little in the way of franchise-altering changes.

However, for new players, it serves up one of the best experiences to be had in a sports game.

NHL 21 Review

  • Copy: NHL 21 (PS4)
  • Price: $59.88 – on Amazon
  • Developer: EA SPORTS
  • Release date: October 16
  • Platforms: Xbox One, PS4

NHL 21 cover


Despite very few noticeable changes from previous entries in this generation, NHL 21 does manage to improve upon what already works.

There are more dekes at the player’s disposal, better AI, and improved goalie mechanics this time around, which do make the game feel better. They just do little to push the game fully forward.

To be frank, it doesn’t really deliver a true evolution for the series, nor does it offer anything to be considered revolutionary.

Behind the new pass
NHL 21 features improved AI.

It’s not necessarily expected that yearly sports titles reinvent the wheel every 12 months, but to go back in time, look at NHL 2005 from 16 years ago.

NHL 2005 brought in “Open Ice Control” which let players in possession of the puck take control of another teammate to set up for breakaway passes. Even though it may have been overpowered, it was a clear sign that EA wanted to change up the formula.

Nothing as drastic exists in NHL 21. It just feels like a carbon copy of the previous title with some slight improvements that only the most hardcore of players will notice.

Carey Price makes a great save
The goalies in NHL 21 are better than ever.

Perhaps this is because the developers feel comfortable with what it has going for it. While it works, it’s arguably gotten stale. Skating, passing, hitting, and shooting feels tiresome and remains a tad too arcadey.

Hockey is perhaps the most arcadey of all sports (what with its fighting and brutality), so it’s no surprise that it’s translated well to video game form for all these years. But, in a world where 2K gets its NBA series to feel like a genuine simulation, NHL still finds itself playing a bit offside when it comes to being a legitimate recreation of the sport with its HUT Rush and outdoor arenas.

Going into next-gen, it would be wise to go back to the drawing board and implement significant changes to core gameplay mechanics. They likely will at some point, but we still don’t have a coach’s challenge for some reason. It’s far too easy to enter through the neutral zone. These issues have plagued the series for too long.

Custom player winning trophy
Be A Pro has been extremely revamped.

Be A Pro

While the gameplay brings nothing really new, the Be A Pro mode has received the most attention and is by far the standout of the year – similar to that of UFC, which focused heavily on the adventure and customization elements.

EA have morphed Be A Pro into more of a journey. Talking to the media, expectations from teammates and coaches – there is quite a lot to unpack.

Even though the mode doesn’t have a set story like we’ve seen in Madden and FIFA in the past, it instead tailors the experience to a pro’s whole career beginning with a rookie season.

NHL locker room
Be A Pro mixes RPG elements with hockey.

Leveling up, gaining skill points, and selecting specific dialogues tree make the mode feel like an RPG at times. Saying the right things to certain teammates may trigger events where a set of tasks need to be accomplished such as getting three assists in a game.

You can choose to simulate a season leading up to these larger events, which lets players decide how much of an 82-game season they want to play without missing out on any key career moments.

I often found myself simulating one or two periods of big games not part of these larger event matches before taking the reins to speed up what could have potentially been a slow, tiresome mode.

Be A Pro feels like DLC and not worth the full price.

Sadly, there is a lot of repetition in Be A Pro that significantly breaks the immersion. There is also a serious lack of consequences for failing a task. Again, this mode feels like something that could have been released a few years ago. It’s a nice, welcomed inclusion. But for some people it might not warrant the purchase of a new game if they bought NHL 20.

Once more, the revamped Be A Pro gives something new for EA to build upon and perfect, but it alone isn’t enough to recommend NHL 21 to anyone familiar with the last few installments.

NHL 21 review | Verdict: 6.5/10

Really, your enjoyment of NHL 21 will ultimately come down to whether or not you played NHL 20, 19, or 18 (possibly even farther back). Be A Pro would work as a glorified $15 DLC to last year’s game, but not for the full price of admission.

If you’re new to these games or haven’t played in a few years, then you will probably have a lot of fun, because it is still fun. But it’s also extremely stale.

Serious changes need to be made to gameplay going forward. Until then, the series is skating on very thin ice.

Call of Duty

Best Black Ops Cold War weapons to use in Warzone

Published: 26/Nov/2020 14:42

by James Busby


While Warzone currently shares its loadouts with Modern Warfare, it won’t be long until Black Ops Cold War’s guns are integrated into the game. Here are seven guns that you should be leveling up ahead of the cross-progression update. 

Black Ops Cold War features plenty of deadly weapons that will drastically shake up the Warzone meta, giving players even more choice when it comes to crafting the perfect loadout. Warzone will also share weapon progression with both Black Ops Cold War and Modern Warfare, so you’ll be able to level up your guns in either game. This integration will likely have a huge impact on Warzone’s current meta, especially when Treyarch adds new weapons to Black Ops Cold War.

While Modern Warfare’s ever-popular Kilo 141 and MP5 loadouts will still likely remain popular picks among players, there are a number of new and returning guns that could dethrone the current kings. As a result, we’ve put together a list of the seven best Black Ops Cold War guns you’ll want to use in Warzone. 


AK-47 Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
Black Ops Cold War’s AK-47 will be a force to be reckoned with when it drops into Verdansk.

Best AK-47 loadout

While this Russian rifle struggled to compete in Modern Warfare’s, it has come back with a vengeance in Treyarch’s latest title. In fact, the AK-47 is the best gun in the entire game thanks to its high-damage and incredible versatility. Whether you prefer to run and gun your way to victory, or methodically pick off targets from afar, there is a loadout that caters to every kind of playstyle. 

This reliable rifle has proven so lethal that it has dominated the pro and casual CoD scene since launch. One of the most potent AK-47 builds literally has no recoil, so this could rival the new Kilo 141 when it drops. The difference between both Modern Warfare’s AK-47 and the current Black Ops Variant is night and day.

Krig 6

Krig 6
Activision / Treyarch
The Krig 6 is one of the most accurate AR’s in the game.

Best Krig 6 loadout

The Krig 6 has been making a name for itself thanks to its low recoil and methodical fire rate. While it doesn’t deal as much damage as the AK-47, it makes up for this with its fantastic precision. Warzone is dominated by assault rifles like the Kilo 141, Grau 5.56, and M13 as these weapons enable the user to beam opponents without the need to wrestle with any finicky recoil patterns.

After all, being able to effortlessly hit players from across all ranges is a huge bonus to any Warzone player looking to increase their kill count. The Krig 6 also boasts excellent weapon control and quick reloads, making it a great pick for those that prefer to seek out those all-important headshots. 


M16 Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
Only time will tell whether this classic assault rifle has what it takes to wreak havoc across Verdansk.

Best M16 loadout

Modern Warfare’s FAMAS demonstrated just how bad burst rifles could be in Warzone, but the M16 could change this notion completely. Unlike the FAMAS, Black Ops Cold War’s M16 can dish out highly accurate rounds in a matter of seconds. In fact, the iconic burst rifle was recently nerfed as it was overperforming.

Despite Treyarch toning down its damage range and slightly increasing its delay between bursts, this AR still absolutely melts opponents. Any gun that can accurately drop an enemy in a couple of bursts is always going to pique the interest of Warzone players. As proven by gameplay in Fireteam: Dirty Bomb, the M16 can quickly down even the most well-armored of enemies. 


MP5 Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
The MP5 still continues to dominate the SMG competition.

Best MP5 loadout

A lot of Call of Duty fans were left disappointed when they found that the MP5 still remained at the top of the SMG rankings. Multiplayer lobbies were dominated by this lightning-fast SMG during Black Ops Cold War’s launch week, and it’s not hard to see why. Despite the recent nerf, the MP5 still boasts high rates of fire, great mobility, and decent close-quarters damage.

Whether this variant will prove as lethal as the Warzone’s current MP5 remains to be seen, but we expect the new attachments will certainly allow it to rival its predecessor. 

Type 63

Type 63 Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
The Type 63 is one Tactical Rifle that is worth adding to your arsenal.

Best Type 63 loadout

While the Type 63 shares a few similarities to Modern Warfare’s EBR-14, it is better in every single way. Not only does it have a significantly lower recoil pattern, it can also unleash some incredibly fast two shot kills. Equipping the 18.3” Strike Team barrel will not only speed up this semi-auto rifle’s fire rate, but it will also increase its damage. 

While most semi-auto rifles are often plagued by sluggish fire rates, high recoil, and lackluster magazine sizes, the Type 63 doesn’t fall victim to these negatives. Just like Warzone’s Marksman Rifles, the Type 63 offers sniper-like precision and damage with the added bonus of mobility. 


AUG Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
The AUG’s highly accurate burst fire makes it lethal across all ranges.

Best AUG loadout

Unlike Modern Warfare’s full-auto AUG SMG, Black Ops Cold War’s variant offers greater accuracy and range. This burst-fire tactical rifle is capable of dealing even more damage than the M16, especially when it’s equipped with the 19.6” Match Grade Barrel. This increases its effective damage range by 100%, making it hit even harder across mid to long-range distances. 

Burst fire weapons have obviously been lacking in Warzone, but Black Ops’ AUG could quickly change that. 

Stoner 63

Stoner 63 Black Ops Cold War
Activision / Treyarch
The Stoner 63 could rival the popular Bruen and PKM loadouts.

LMGs have been somewhat lacking in Black Ops Cold War due to their overall bulk and slower ADS times. However, this isn’t the case in Warzone. After all, the Bruen, PKM, and the FiNN are prime examples of how LMGs can dominate the competition. 

The Stoner 63 is arguably the best suited LMG for Warzone. This is partly down to a combination of speed and accuracy. While both the RPD and M60 offer better damage, their poor accuracy makes them difficult to recommend. Simply attach the SALVO 125 RND Fast Mag and the Airborne Elastic Wrap to begin getting those game-winning squad wipes. 

So there you have it, seven of the best Black Ops Cold War guns you should be using in Warzone. If you want to keep updated with all the latest Call of Duty news and updates, then follow us over on @DexertoIntel.