As with any annual sports franchise, EA SportsNHL is working hard to step up its game (literally). The first trailer for NHL 14 has just been released, which teases some of the new features that are headed hockey fans’ way.

While the big changes in NHL‘s future might have to wait until the next-gen, EA Sports still has a few tricks up their sleeve. Specifically, EA sports is introducing some new tech, and improving on old tech, in order to make the most realistic hockey experience yet.

It starts with NHL 14‘s new collision physics engine, which is built on the same foundation as the FIFA Player Impact engine. In a sport that is all about cross checks and slamming players into the boards, what better way to highlight that then with one of the best collision engines around. Collisions will now be executed using a new left-stick control scheme, but EA Sports didn’t explain exactly how that would work.

Yes, FIFA‘s Impact Engine is a little problematic sometimes (check out a funny video of the engine gone wrong), but now it’s being used in a lot of Electronic Arts games. Battlefield 3, for example, uses it for collision.

Right alongside a new engine for collisions, NHL 14 also includes a new Enforcer Engine, which will improve those fan-favorite hockey fights. NHL 14‘s Enforcer Engine is powered by the same technology as EA Sports’ Fight Night franchise, which does fights and nothing else. As you can see, EA Sports is cross-pollinating in the best ways.

Some other new features for NHL 14 include:

  • 1,000 new skating animations introduced alongside the second year of the True Performance Skating feature. Explosive first strides, acceleration, quicker pivots, and enhanced lateral skating improve player responsiveness and increase control.
  • A new, more responsive deking system that is controlled with the left stick and a single button. EA boasts the new system allows for quicker reactive dekes, which creates more moves than ever before.
  • Live the Life — a new version of the Be a Pro Career mode that lets gamers craft their player’s relationships inside and outside of the hockey rink.
  • General improvements to Hockey Ultimate Team and the Hockey League modes.

Although it’s hard to recommend annualized sports franchises, those gamers that like to pick up NHL every yearshould find some solid improvements for this year’s iteration. We only have this first trailer for NHL 14 to judge, however, so stick tuned for more details on the game’s new features.

NHL 14 Trailer

And if you want to participate in the game’s cover athlete vote — similar to how Madden selects its cover athlete now — head here.

Will you be picking up NHL 14 or will you wait for the next-gen sports titles? What other aspects of the franchise would you like to see EA Sports work on?

NHL 14 launches September 10, 2013 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.