EA Sports officially announced NHL 16’s features and game modes today, along with the fact that it is an Xbox One & Playstation 4 exclusive.
To the fans who have not made the jump to the next generation of consoles just yet, never fear; EA has also announced NHL Legacy, an Xbox 360 & Playstation 4 version of the game. As for NHL 16, we breakdown the new features and game modes below:
The Return of the EASHL
The mega popular EASHL makes its return to the franchise, debuting on Xbox One and PS4. NHL 15 suffered a massive dent in sales and reviewed poorly on the next-gen systems due to its lack of many game modes, specifically the EASHL. The brand’s reputation took a hit, but we all knew EA was setting itself up for a PR comeback, right?
Regardless, I can’t wait to get my hands on this. One of the taglines for the press release is “New Ways To Compete As A Team,” which is vague but seems to imply that certain aspects of the EASHL will be revamped.
6v6 Online Team Play
The other big segment that was missing from the online community was Online Team Play, or OTP. It was frustrating to see that I couldn’t jump online with or against more than one of my friends at NHL 15’s launch, seeing that just days earlier I was able to in NHL 14. If you can’t quite get a full roster together to play in the EASHL, this is the mode for you. I spent many late nights competing with my friends, saying “just one more” more often than not.
One facet listed in the description at easports.com is the mention of “drop-in” play. This is exciting, as it implies that a player doesn’t have to be there from the initial puck drop to join with his friends.
Be A GM: Player Morale Added
I call this the “Evander Kane Factor.” Okay not really, but I like this approach. Be A GM Mode was a mess last year after being fairly consistent over the years previous. It has a long way to go before being as deep NBA 2K’s career mode, but I appreciate this stride. An excerpt from the website:
“Being a GM is about more than just getting the best players, it’s about getting the right players to play well together. Each player on your NHL and AHL team has a different personality that you will have to manage. Deal with trade demands, teammate relationships, and much more by calling team meetings or adjusting your roster to directly affect your team’s on-ice performance.”
BE A PRO
The broken Be A Pro Mode looks to be returning to some of the basics that made it fantastic and so well received, such as the ability to work your way up from the CHL to the NHL and the painfully-missed option of simulating to your next shift.
A nice addition is the progression system, where your on-ice actions determine what kind of player you’ll become and which attributes your player earns. Do you play physically below the goal line? You’ll lean towards becoming a power forward. Always looking to set someone up? You’ll be a playmaker. I’m totally down with this.
Hockey Ultimate Team: Single Player Seasons
EA lists this as the “most played mode in the NHL series.” It’s felt forced for years, as if someone upstairs thought it was a great idea and the rest of the team is pushing it to appease him. Now I enjoy HUT; I grew up opening packs of hockey cards and obsessing over collecting them. It’s a solid concept to open virtual packs of hockey cards and to be able to use them as your roster players. But something always feels lacking for me. Maybe this is the year it sinks its grip into me. By the way, it was only the most played because there was no OTP or EASHL. Just saying.
Seamless Puck Pickups
We will have to see this dynamic play out in real time, but it sounds promising. As a lifelong hockey lover, I truly appreciate when EA adds little things to the game that make it more authentic. The website lists being able to control or corral the puck as the difference between getting a scoring chance and getting leveled, and this couldn’t be more true.
Will a player bobble a pass and get crushed? Will a player stretch out for a pass just out of range? I look forward to seeing more on this.
Not making this up. You know what? I love it. I can’t wait to see Sabretooth running around the arena between whistles.
EA also lists specific arena effects, celebrations, chants, and props to go along with making each arena feel unique. They did a solid job in NHL 15 in creating the layouts of all 30 arenas for the first time, this only adds to that foundation.
The description is very vague and mentions certain updates and more emotion from the returning cast of Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Ray Ferraro. They aren’t as much fun as Gary Thorne and Bill Clement (or Jim Hughson for that matter), but I enjoyed the change of pace. I only ask that EA updates the dialogue less than every 8 seasons.
NHL 15 added green-screen intro videos for each game and EA promises that NHL 16 will feature updated versions along with more “story-driven commentary.”
A subtle, small change to the average video game but to a hockey lifer, a big deal. I legitimately can’t wait to run through the playoffs with my team. From the website:
“With accurate representations of beard patterns, length, thickness, and growth rates for individual players, the road to the Stanley Cup just got hairier.”
This means 20 year old Zemgus Girgensons shouldn’t be able to grow the same beard that say, 36 year old Henrik Zetterberg can. There’s going to be another cover vote in which the winning player will don this year’s cover. Look out if Zemgus is nominated (he was voted into this year’s NHL All-Star game).
I like this news from EA Sports and I am excited for NHL 16. To be fair, I’m always excited for the annual release, but I still call a spade a spade. EA opted to go with a solid new-generational foundation in place of simply up-rezzing the Xbox 360/PS3 version with a new paint coat. I supported this, as I’d rather have a superb, on-ice product and add in the game modes later on. Would I have maybe taken a year off? Yes (money dictates otherwise). Would I have sold it for $40 instead of $60, knowing that many common game modes were left out? Yes (again, money). Regardless, I am optimistic that the franchise is moving in the right direction and I impatiently wait to find more out about it.
NHL 16 is slated for a September 2015 release window, along with the Xbox 360/PS3 exclusive NHL Legacy. For the full description of each mode and feature for both games, head to easports.com/nhl.
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s resident hockey guru, or so he says. The only thing stopping him from getting a Jack Eichel jersey is not knowing which number he’ll wear.