NHL 21

Rating Summary

Based on 28 critic reviews
Fair Man

OpenCritic Rating

74

Top Critic Average

46%

Critics Recommend

Based on 28 critic reviews
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Oct 27, 2020

NHL 21 is the best hockey game around by default – but it seldom genuinely stands out from this generation's pack.

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8 / 10.0
Oct 25, 2020

Whilst the gameplay changes and additions to the game modes are welcomed, NHL 21 feels more like an update than a brand new game.

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IGN

Top Critic

6 / 10.0
Oct 16, 2020

Arcade goodies are mashed together with NHL 21's legacy issues that span an entire console generation.

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7.5 / 10.0
Oct 16, 2020

NHL 21 doesn't feel like a huge leap from last year, but EA Vancouver makes strides in addressing long-known issues and sets a better foundation for the next generation

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Unscored
Oct 22, 2020

By the start of my second year, I was somehow named the New York Rangers' captain, a rare honor traditionally reserved for a respected veteran and locker-room leader. I had managed to reach a 76 overall rating - appropriate for a sophomore season, though by no means impressive - but apparently hadn't raised my profile enough with the fans to unlock worthwhile perks. (Some are gated only by funds, but others are gated by social media followers; maddeningly, the game doesn't say how many followers you need.) This disconnect makes these ostensible milestones feel arbitrary and meaningless - what's the point of the brand likability rating if these other obstacles exist? - and saps any desire I might've had to bother pursuing impactful perks or the salary necessary to afford them.

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9 / 10
Oct 16, 2020

EA's NHL 21 is a success thanks to its improved story mode, exciting new skill moves, and excellent controls.

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Oct 21, 2020

NHL 21 tries to end the current generation on a high note, but legacy issues continue to hold it back. Its revamped Be a Pro mode is particularly disappointing, proving to be a disjointed, somewhat sloppy experience. It has its usual strengths, with online team play being a definite highlight, but longtime fans of the series will likely find this year's entry eminently skippable.

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8 / 10.0
Oct 17, 2020

NHL 21 is another strong entry into the series’ history. It delivers a new strand of flavor with Be a Pro, maintains quality on the ice, and makes franchise mode more enjoyable. However, the limitations in customization and the subtractions to HUT keep NHL 21 from being the series’ ultimate edition.

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8 / 10
Oct 16, 2020

I’m not old school like the coaches and GMs that still make up a large part of the NHL, but I’m old school in that I grew up in the 80s and 90s and value hard hockey played the right way over flashy dekes you might see once a season. I love dekes as much as the next person, but not at the expense of solid core gameplay. EA Vancouver tried to sell dekes, cosmetics, and the idea of being a superstar, but what resonated with me, an old-school hockey guy, were the core gameplay improvements.

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7 / 10
Oct 22, 2020

NHL 21 is absolutely a step forward. We won't be able to see if this improvement is a one-time thing until next year, but as it stands, this final release of the generation is also its best in that span. With a long-overdue update to the Be a Pro mode, alongside the pretty fun HUT Rush and the changes to Franchise, the series took a bigger step forward than it normally does. Sure, there's a give and take quality to many of the alterations, but the overall product is a net positive. It won't be scooping up an endless stream of awards any time soon, but this series has been in far worse shape in the past.

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