‘NHL 21’ Franchise Mode is kind of busted, but gets the job done

When it comes to judging “NHL 21” in general and its Franchise Mode in specific, it’s crucial to consider expectations.

Judging by how some react to the mere mention of EA Sports’ NHL games online, we can get this out of the way. If you didn’t like recent EA Sports NHL games, you’re probably not going to like “NHL 21.” (Go ahead and rehash those “glorified roster update” takes now.)

But, for those who find some level of enjoyment out of the games — or haven’t bought one in a while –what about “NHL 21,” and its Franchise Mode to be specific?

Well, it depends.

Will you like Franchise Mode in “NHL 21?” Did you like previous ones?
Look, there are a lot of reasons — some fair, some frustrating — why “NHL 21” didn’t make a giant leap with its updated Franchise Mode. Rolling all of those out would probably be about as tedious as scrolling through the menus of “NHL 21,” which sometimes respond about as quickly as Hal Gill slogging through the third minute of a nightmare shift.

But, the bottom line is that not a whole lot has changed.
Actually, some of the stuff worked better in “NHL 20.” While a patch is likely coming, scouting can be really janky. I, for one, have mostly given up trying to manually scout goalies. Good thing goalies aren’t very important, right? (Laughs nervously.)

When you see holdover modes have new mistakes, it’s clear that something’s creaky. It sort of feels like someone needs to take the code for Franchise Mode in “NHL 21” and blow its dust out, like an old Nintendo cartridge.

So, “NHL 21” and its Franchise Mode can be good, with caveats
To summarize: no, “NHL 21” doesn’t innovate with its Franchise Mode. Some of the shortcomings are glaring. I wouldn’t recommend spending full price for it … or frankly many video games. (Maybe just the shooters where, if you wait too long, you’ll be humiliated against those wily teenagers rather than more modestly outclassed?)

But, if you don’t pay full price to play Franchise mode in “NHL 21?” That’s where I can recommend it.

Again, it’s crucial to actually like the game. That’s where that 10 hour trial could come in handy. If you’re gritting your teeth at the wonky A.I. (understandable) or outdated graphics (fair)? Then divest, and sure, vent online.

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