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EA Sports reveals content release plan for NHL 15

NHL 15 Online Team-Play to return in a planned October update.
NHL 15 Online Team-Play to return in a planned October update.

After having a hefty backlash from the lack of game modes that will be included in the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of NHL 15, EA Sports now has a plan of action to bring some key features and game modes back in two monthly updates.

While most all the features being added in the next few months for NHL 15 have been in previous games, there will be two new components to the series as well — “Playoff Mode” and “GM Draft.” (Some small improvements will also be coming to Hockey Ultimate Team.)

Playoff Mode, due to come in the September update, will allow for custom tournaments with up to 16 teams from any league in game. While this mode seems perfect for online play, it will only be available offline. Minor layout changes and new animations will also be coming to the Hockey Ultimate Team U.I. in the September Update.

Coming in the October update, GM Draft adds some more immersion to the NHL draft experience. General Managers will be able to trade players while the draft is occuring and will have the pressure of a time-limit to get their picks in in-time. The mode will likely resemble that of Madden’s drafting gameplay.

Returning Features

(September Update)

  • Coach Feedback – Coaches will once again give players insight on their play in Be A Pro.
  • 3 Stars – It seems like a given that this would have been included in the initial release, but you’ll have to wait a few more weeks before you’ll be able to see the three stars after each game.

(October Update)

  • Online Team Play – This was a massive omission for fans of the popular EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL), but don’t expect it to be the same as it has been in the past. Gamers will be able to play on the ice with up to nine others as they each control one individual player, but the ability to play as their own custom character is still not incorporated.Among the other handicaps to the mode
    – Goalie mode will not be included. (5 v 5 only available)
    – Lobbies are not yet available. Random matches will be the only way to play this mode.

EA is clearly responding to the backlash, but it’s unclear whether these efforts will be enough to appease their fans.

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Madden 15 brings football to life in the new-generation | Review

EA Sports brings the football field and more to life in Madden 15.
EA Sports brings the football field and more to life in Madden 15.

The 26th year of Madden Football has found an excellent transition to the next generation of consoles.

Madden has never been known for noticeably significant improvements. It’s almost always been a slow transition with each game, each year adding a collection of small features to enhance the gameplay experience. While it would have been nice to see Madden take a more significant jump regarding the aesthetics (like the NHL series seems to be doing with NHL 15), the improvements to the franchise will certainly not go unappreciated.

Visually the game looks great and the improvements to the player models and presentation make the game look fitting for the graphical power the Playstation 4 and Xbox One provide.

The player models look much slimmer when compared to the last few Madden games.
The player models look much slimmer when compared to the last few Madden games.

The updated player models look slimmer and more realistic, the coaches show more expressions, and the refs move much more fluently, but some minor outstanding surroundings still hold back the true immersion of a football simulation.

The fans still look bland like the previous iterations of the franchise, and their character models are plagued by identical animations throughout the games. EA has shown efforts to improve the aesthetics though. The sidelines are now a bit more active, with actual characters that are solid entities with enhanced reactions and animations.

The presentation overall is much better than that of Madden 25. New segue scenes to the opening kick-off and second half bring a more detailed overview of the players involved and how each team is doing. With player comparisons occurring in a grander style during the long breaks, smaller updates are shown more often at the top score-bar as you play with stats like yards allowed, yards gained, and individual player stats giving you some extra info on how the game is progressing.

While the visuals of the game are improved, the gameplay itself is where the true positives come into play. With plenty new defense-oriented additions and a variety of new camera views and animations, the game itself is just more fun. Defense has undergone the most significant change they’ve received in years with a the new “tackle-cone” and a more in-depth timing aspect that gives players a boost when rushing the QB.

The tackle cone gives a more visual understanding of your player’s tackling capabilities as it highlights the best areas to position their player and the most fitting tackle to perform on the ball carrier.

When you’re not the one controlling the players themselves, the players also behave more appropriately due to Madden 15’s “Player Sense 2.0” and the improved A.I.

Madden 15 introduces a whole new perspective to the defensive side of the ball.
Madden 15 introduces a whole new perspective to the defensive side of the ball.

Safeties look to jump routes more, corners recognize the proper maneuver to defend passes more, and greater pursuit to the ball from all defensive players make the computer controlled defense a more competitive foe for the human controlled teams to take on.

With a new camera angle as well, players get a greater look at the game between the trenches and in the secondary as the camera zooms and moves to fit your placement as you defend.

Now when you take down the smarter A.I. defenses it makes it all the more satisfying as the game encourages more realistic plays and pace of game.

For those who pick up Madden that are not quite as informed about the intricacies of the game, EA Sports was sure to make the complex style more approachable with the new “skill games” that teach new players the basics of the game.

Learn the best play-style approach for each defense and the best counter to each offense as the gamemode details information regarding coverages, routes, jukes, and QB ball-placement on throws.

Even if you’re experienced with the franchise, the game modes still offer a good change of pace with some mini-games that are at worst pretty good time-killers.

EA Sports managed to create a more complex, yet more approachable experience to give all users an enjoyable experience in Madden 15.

The more in-depth gamemodes stay at their core the same. The highly popular Ultimate Team operates in about the same way it has in previous games, but some small additions look to streamline the experience. Your best possible line-up can now be activated at the touch of one button to create a quick and easy way to get straight to the action.

Confidence adds a new element to Madden that creates more realistic roller-coaster seasons.
Confidence adds a new element to Madden that creates more realistic roller-coaster seasons.

The most popular gamemode, Connected Franchise (which includes everything from franchises, single player campaigns, and shows some fairly remarkable changes to the pre-game play. Now included, the new “Game Prep” mode eliminates the previous practice mode and instead incorporates a new progression system that has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Game prep allows you to have a greater control over which focus you’d like your team to improve upon by giving you a limited amount of hours to spend on each individual player. You’re able to improve your team or character in two ways this time around — either with the standard experience points or the new confidence statistic.

The new confidence rating influences players’ overalls with the rating changing based on recent games, playbook familiarity, and the game-prep before each game. Teams on a winning streak or coming off a big win will have their entire team riding high with a significant improvement to their overalls and the opposite end of the spectrum occurs with losing streaks.

While the greater control is fantastic as you monitor each player’s development, the limited time per week can obstruct improving the team as a whole. Individual players get the attention, but making general team improvements isn’t quite as simple as there is no way to improve an entire group like all offensive-line starters or all defensive backs. Not a major gripe, but it’s notable nonetheless.


Overall, Madden 15 shows ample improvements that put it in a great place on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. The minor issues regarding the bland fan atmosphere and pedantic in-game issues are entirely eclipsed by the easily-approachable style, improved A.I., and fine-tuned gamemodes that make Madden 15 a must-have game for football fans, and an extremely enjoyable game for gamers in general.

8.9/10

 

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NHL 15 official gamemode list

EA Sports' NHL 15 shows stunning visuals and was honored with the 2014 E3 Critic's Best Sports Game award.
EA Sports’ NHL 15 shows stunning visuals and was honored with the 2014 E3 Critic’s Best Sports Game award.

EA Sports’ NHL 15 certainly boasts impressive visuals, physics, and asthetics, but their newly revealed gamemode list shows the new features come at a cost.

Included gamemodes:

  • Play Now
  • Be A Pro
  • Be A GM
  • Online Versus
  • Hockey Ultimate Team
  • NHL Moments Live

EA’s official release states that they are proud of their work with the Next-Generation Hockey Player, True Hockey Physics, updated arena experience, and the new Broadcast Presentation, but some of the most popular gamemodes will be absent from the new-generation version of the game — EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL) and Online Team Play (OTP).

While EASHL will be entirely removed from the game, a simplified OTP mode is said to return in a free update after the intitial game launch. The gamemode will not entirely resemble that of the previous online team-play iterations. The OTP add-on will not allow players to create and play with their own custom player, but rather the in-game roster players will be used instead. There will be no lobbies to organize any specific games. EA has opted for an easy to implement random-joining process to the OTP games — similar to how joining versus games currently operates.

While the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions will maintain the classic gamemodes, the removal of the fan favorite gamemodes will be a significant blow to EA. An EA developer described the transition they had to under-go while creating the new-generation experience.

“NHL 15 on the new consoles is a fundamentally different gameplay and presentation experience. 
You can still play Be A Pro, Be A GM, NHL Moments Live, Online Vs and HUT. 
We have overhauled every screen within those modes and are continuing to deliver additional content post launch.”

EA is still working to determine whether the online-franchise mode “GM Connected” will be included at this point, but it’s clear the company’s development process regarding new features consumed a lot of their resources.

“Maintaining these modes year on year (even if we don’t add any new features) is very costly and it takes away from us working on other features in the more played modes which is why I say that the future [of GM Connected] is TBD based on current usage.”

While the news may disappoint some fans, EA maintains that NHL 16 will hold massive improvements to EASHL. They ensure that they will be clear regarding the development process of for the 6v6 gamemode.

“We’ll be fully transparent on the development of OTP as we build back towards created players and the EASHL. 
The exact timetable is TBD.”

NHL 15 will be releasing for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4 and Playstation 3 September 9th.

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NHL 15 overhead gameplay trailer

With an NBC Sports style presentation and extremely fluid animations throughout, the new look at the gameplay of NHL 15 shows very good reason for it to be the 2014 E3 Critics Awards’ Best Sports Game.

Now with actual video incorporated into the opening of games, Doc Emrick and Eddie Olzyk not only commentate the plays well, but they also bring the opening of the game some much needed life.

This first full look at NHL 15‘s gameplay trailers shows some major improvements to the flow of action on the ice. Dekes are quick, but reasonable, physical play is more involved, and pucks bounce appropriately when dumped into the zone.

Though it’s difficult to judge the A.I. right now,  they do seem to maneuver a bit quicker to open areas.

One of the most notable changes that NHL fans will notice, is the new commentary. It shows a much greater amount of diversity and detail to the actions on the ice. In previous games the announcer would simply state who received the puck.

Now, we see Doc noting where players are, when plays are heading to high scoring zones, and how players are doing throughout the game.

The additions certainly bring a very next-gen feel to the gameplay. It is by far the most significant jump that the NHL series has undergone since the transition from generation two consoles to generation three.

NHL 15 and all the improvements are coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4 September 9th. The game will also be releasing for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but will be stifled in regards to new features.

(A side note for some NHL fans who believe EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL) and other game modes are not coming to the next-gen consoles — While it isn’t technically confirmed, all game modes from the previous NHL installment will almost certainly be included.
EA’s community manager on the official EA NHL forums stated that the company has been primarily focusing on the new features for the Xbox One and Playstation 4. They have not yet expressed any changes coming to the game modes, but will release more information next week.)
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The crowd comes to life in the new NHL 15 gameplay trailer

NHL 15's new AI promises a greater diversity to offensive play.
NHL 15’s new AI promises a greater diversity to offensive play.

The atmosphere of a hockey game is realized in EA Sports’ most recent iteration of the NHL series.

NHL 15 presents one of the most incredibly immersive sports games ever released. The authentic arenas display oustanding authenticity and the active crowds that include super-fans, taunting opposing crowds, and a great variety of distinct animations, make the feeling of a digital hockey game grow beyond that of arcade hockey.

Beyond the improved atmosphere of the arenas, the gameplay is looking sharp and the visuals look spectacular.

Check out EA Sports’ latest Gamescom trailer below –

NHL 15 will be releasing on Xbox One and Playstation 4 September 9th, this year. It will also be releasing on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but not quite at the same level of visual presentation.

Get an early look at the gameplay as EA will be releasing a demo August 26th.

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NHL 15: True Hockey Physics Trailer

In EA Sports’ 3rd trailer since E3, the NHL series now shows off their overhauled game-engine with entirely new puck physics and 12 player collisions for NHL 15.

The overhauled puck engine will be a massive boost to the series. In previous games, the “puck” actually had the physics of a ball on the ice, but with the new engine pucks can roll, ricochet, and bounce like actual hockey pucks. The 12 player collision will create more realistic bumps and scrums for pucks. Puck control in general is expected to be much improved.

NHL 15 will release on September 7th this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Playstation 3. 

*It should be noted that many of the promoted features of the game will not be included in the 360 and PS3 versions. They will be in-essence a re-hash of NHL 14, but with new commentators.


New trailers are coming soon, so check back here and   to stay up-to-date.