What hockey fans need from EA Sports’ NHL 16

After so much promise from their new generation iteration of the NHL series, EA Sports ultimately failed to meet the expectations of NHL 15 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

With major game modes like EA Sports Hockey League and GM Connected (Online Franchise) omitted from the game, EA produced an excellent game based on the gameplay, but left out the variety that kept NHL an exciting game for hockey fans.

Before the official reveal of the game modes just weeks before NHL 15’s release, this year’s game was shown to be incredibly promising after winning the E3 Critic Awards’ Sports Game of the Year.

The award to EA was certainly not understandable. The base of the game is fantastic as the visuals took an incredible jump from the previous generation games. Along with fantastic new commentary and smooth gameplay, it seemed NHL 15 was going to be the best upgrade to the series in a very long time.

But now that the core of the game is set, and the resources allocated to development should be able to handle the addition of the game modes and fine-tuning the rest of the game to make NHL 16 a worth-while product.

Here’s what needs to happen for NHL 16:

  • The return of EASHL and GM Connected. A club mode with all the features present in the last NHL game’s rendition present. EA Sports Hockey League and GM Connected are crucial components of the NHL series since their launches in NHL 09 and NHL 13 (respectively). The removal of these modes in NHL 15 was unacceptable for the majority of fans.
  • Implementation of EA’s “Game Face” technology with the NHL series would be greatly appreciated. The FIFA and Madden series have long incorporated the more personalized touch to their online game modes and its certainly time for NHL to do the same. While there was some customization to faces with scars, complexion modifications, and eye color offered to be edited and changed, NHL 15 removed the bulk of this customization and left players with a single list of preset faces.
  • More detailed customization of EASHL team logo and jersey designs. Since EASHL’s advent in 2008, virtually zero upgrades to team personalization have been added. Coming up on the seventh year later, there is little reason for such a meager assortment. With other games like GTA, and Call of Duty promoting very customizable (albeit small) options for gang symbols, weapon decals, and logos, NHL currently offers nothing that can be compared to the level of detail permitted in these other games.
  • Tune down the jersey flutter. Adding the layered player models to the game looks fantastic upon first glance, but after repeated play, many gamers will notice the absurd amount that the jerseys dance with the nonexistent wind.
  • Slow down the dekes. The one-touch deking system is another great addition to the game to create smoother looking movement on the ice, but when players like Zac Rinaldo can seemingly cut and maneuver in the same vein as Vladimir Tarasenko there is a definite problem. Greater variation in how the “deking” stat is attributed to players is needed.

While there are certainly other issues and problems that fans can gripe about like there is every year, EA must take an intrinsic focus to ensure that the continuation of NHL on the new generation not only optimizes the bugs and minor issues, but also deliver on the players’ expectations for fleshed out variety of game modes and immediately noticeable improvements.

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