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NHL 2004

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
NHL 2004
NHL 2004 cover
EA Black Box
EA Sports
Release dates
Windows September 22, 2003
Metacritic 87
Monetization One-time game purchase
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives Bird's-eye view
Controls Direct control, Multiple select
Genres Sports
Sports Hockey
Themes Contemporary
Series NHL
NHL 2004 on HowLongToBeat
NHL 2004 guide on StrategyWiki
NHL 2004 on MobyGames
NHL 2004 on Wikipedia
NHL Hockey (NHL '94) 1993
NHL 95 1994
NHL 96 1995
NHL 97 1996
NHL 98 1997
NHL 99 1998
NHL 2000 1999
NHL 2001 2000
NHL 2002 2001
NHL 2003 2002
NHL 2004 2003
NHL 2005 2004
NHL 06 2005
NHL 07 2006
NHL 08 2007
NHL 09 2008


SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows Vista and later (see Availability for affected versions).

NHL 2004 is a singleplayer and multiplayer bird's-eye view sports game in the NHL series.

The game requires unofficial modifications to run properly on modern systems, as it relies on obsolete integration with Microsoft Internet Explorer to display the menus, and all community projects include workarounds.

General information

NHL04 Rebuilt - the game's modding community


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD key
SafeDisc v2 DRM[Note 1].
SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows Vista and later (see above for affected versions).

Essential improvements

Official patch

The latest official patch is 1.04, but was only distributed on the EA Sports Online (EASO) server that has been shut down. The full official distribution has been lost - only an RTP library was preserved.
All community mods include a modified 1.04 executable.

Unofficial patches and mods

On modern systems, it is impossible to run the game without significant modifications due to the reliance of the main menu interface on obsolete Internet Explorer hooking.
The community is actively working on modifications which work around the compatibility problems.
04 Launcher v2 - unofficial launcher which provides multiple compatibility tweaks, various quality-of-life improvements, and new features for modders. Many of its features are modular and open to community contributions.

It has to be used with either the Vanilla Rebuilt mod (North American rosters from the game's "native" 2003/2004 season) or one of the other various roster mods (vary from historical to present rosters).

All modifications include modified menu interfaces which work better with the 04 Launcher's compatibility tweaks.
The 04 Launcher is open-source: main repository, scripts, mods, download repository.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\NHL 2004

Save game data location

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\NHL 2004


Graphics settings
Graphics settings
Gameplay settings
Gameplay settings

Graphics feature State Notes
Widescreen resolution
Using any community-made mods will incorporate widescreen options. Menus are still in a hardcoded resolution.
4K Ultra HD
Use the 04 Launcher
Field of view (FOV)
Use the 04 Launcher and download the 'Cutscene FOV' mod.
Use the 04 Launcher
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Use the 04 Launcher
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
High-fidelity upscaling
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
Use the 04 Launcher
60 FPS and 120+ FPS
High dynamic range display (HDR)


Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
Full controller support
Main menu can only be accessed with the mouse.
Controller remapping
Controller sensitivity
Controller Y-axis inversion
Controller types
XInput-compatible controllers
Use the 04 Launcher and download the XInput mod.
Xbox button prompts
Generic prompts only.
Impulse Trigger vibration
PlayStation controllers
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Generic/other controllers
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Additional information
Controller hotplugging
Haptic feedback
Digital movement supported
Simultaneous controller+KB/M
Each peripheral (including the keyboard) belongs to a different player.


Audio settings
Audio settings

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Music, sound effects, crowd, commentary, rink speech.
Surround sound
2 and 4 speaker settings.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
Royalty free audio
All music is licensed (various artists)


Language UI Audio Sub Notes


Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
Local play
LAN play
Online play
12 Official servers have been shut down.

Connection types

Issues unresolved

Crash related to wireless peripherals

The game crashes on startup if the user has wireless peripherals (headsets, mice...), either with a white screen or with an error message reporting the process stopping. Before the game is run, the USB dongle needs to be unplugged, and only plugged back in when the game's intro/menu is shown.[3]

Other information


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 8.1
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes


Middleware Notes
Interface Internet Explorer The main menu explicitly requires Internet Explorer 5-8. See Essential improvements.

System requirements

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 98, ME, 2000
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium III 700 MHz
System memory (RAM) 128 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 750 MB
Video card (GPU) 3D accelerator
32 MB of VRAM
DirectX 8.1 compatible


  1. SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows 10[1] or Windows 11 and is disabled by default on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 when the KB3086255 update is installed.[2]


  1. Not Loading in Windows 10; this will break thousands of - Microsoft Community - last accessed on 2017-01-16
  2. Microsoft - MS15-097: Description of the security update for the graphics component in Windows: September 8, 2015 - last accessed on 2018-02-16
  3. Verified by User:Plok on 2022-11-20
    Confirmed with the Logitech G533 wireless headset.