In Depth With NHL 19’s New ONES Mode

I already wrote about NHL 19‘s deep customization options that I discussed with William Ho, creative director of the NHL series during my visit to EA Vancouver at the end of August. Now, let’s take a closer look at the new ONES mode that’s making its series debut in NHL 19.

Welcome to the Great Outdoors

The new NHL ONES mode seeks to bring back the core spirit of hockey by taking a step back from the professional leagues and back onto the ponds of your youth. Many hockey fans, and likely your favorite hockey star, began their time with our favorite pastime on small ponds in the great outdoors.

In NHL ONES, a player will face two other opponents in a 1v1v1 king-of-the-hill style competition. Players compete in this free-for-all event and rise and fall through four distinct tiers. Beginning on the small ice surface of a frozen pond, players advance until they reach the Ring, a full-fledged X-games style arena. Each win promotes a player to the next tier, while two consecutive losses will see you relegated to a lower tier.

As you complete matches, you will be rewarded with Hockey Bags filled with random customization items. The more you win, the rarer the gear will be that you can receive. Every day, one player will be crowned the daily champion and receive super-rare cosmetics. In EA’s early testing, it took players over 150 wins to take home the crown, which is no small feat indeed. William Ho stressed, however, that all players will have a chance at receiving cool loot from their matches, so that not only the players who play non-stop will have the best cosmetics.

No Holds Barred

The gameplay in NHL ONES follows traditional pond hockey rules, in that there are no rules. Players wear parkas, jackets, toques, and more in outrageous looking colors. There’s no referee, and the goalie is controlled by the AI. Big hits, cross-checks to the back, and all the stickwork you can imagine are all fair game. When a player scores, the puck is automatically dropped back onto the ice, and the game continues. Each match takes only a few minutes, and the idea is that you’ll play this on repeat, all while schooling your opponents with your sick dekes and bright green ski pants.

Having played several matches of NHL ONES now, I can safely say that this mode brings an entirely new perspective to your hockey video game playing experience. It’s a significant change of pace from the serious franchise modes or ultra-competitive EASHL experience. NHL 19 will be released on September 14th, with pre-order customers of the NHL 19 Deluxe Edition or NHL 19 Super Deluxe Edition getting the full game three days early on September 11th.