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  • EA Sports looks for bounce back year in NHL 16


    EA Sports looks for bounce back year in NHL 16

    Tim Rosenthal August 27, 2015

    During the seventh generation of gaming consoles, EA Sports released their NHL series to rave reviews on the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. After consistently producing one of the best sports games each year, the critically acclaimed hockey series was set for a smooth transition to the eighth generation of gaming consoles, on the Playstation 4 and XBOX One, with NHL 15.

    Unfortunately for NHL series developer Sean Ramjagnsingh and the rest of the crew at the EA Canada studios, those expectations were not met. While the overall gameplay was still solid, the popular EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL) and other popular game modes were missing in hockey’s first installment of the eighth-generation gaming consoles. And the career modes that did carry over from the previous generation, like Be a Pro and Be a GM, were underwhelming and as a result, NHL 15 got less than stellar reviews from critics.

    This year, NHL 16 will look to write the wrongs from the previous installment. And so far, they’re off to a good start.

    EASHL is back for online gamers, and a patch was made available for those still playing NHL 15 for a few weeks from late July to early August. This year’s version has been updated to let users customize their teams from the roster to their jersey’s and more. In addition, online play includes 6 vs. 6 team play, with the users choice of controlling forwards, defensemen or goaltending, and couch co-play.

    On top of EASHL, Be a Pro and Be a GM mode return.

    In Be a GM mode, the main addition is based on Player Morale. Gone are the days where users can have their lineup consist of four scoring lines, top defensemen and elite goaltenders. Instead, the mode puts an emphasis on bringing 20 guys together — regardless of skill — and getting the best out of each player.

    The players’ morale can sway both ways depending on circumstances. For example, if Brad Marchand gets traded to the Canucks, Canadiens, Rangers or any other team, a guy like Patrice Bergeron might see his confidence drop because the two have gelled together for quite some time. On the flip side, if a GM adds an elite scorer like Alex Ovechkin to their team, then the entire roster can see a boost in morale. On top of that, dealing with trade demands, lineup changes, call-ups and calling for team meetings will have an impact, one way or another, on the team’s on-ice performance.

    Be a Pro returns with an all-new progression system. Users can select a range of players from the Canadian Hockey League to the AHL and NHL, or they can create their own. Every action on the ice will have an impact on a players attribute. Score two goals in a game? Their shooting attributes will go up. Allow a soft goal as a goalie? Expect their skill to diminish slightly. Another good thing about this? Users can sim their game to the next shift and get to kill some much needed waiting time, which was a sore spot in NHL 15.

    The final career mode, Hockey Ultimate Team, returns with single season seasons and improved player management.

    The career modes seem like a step up from last year. The one thing that is still consistent about EA is their attention spent on their gameplay. That is no different for NHL 16.

    This year, Ramjagnsingh and company put an emphasis on refining the already stellar gaming engine with features like precision skating, seamless puck pickups, and user controlled goaltenders controlling the crease. From defenders jumping into the passing lane to wingers joining their fellow linemates on an odd-man rush, the gameplay improvements will look to mimic what you see in a real-life game.

    The commentating team of Doc Emerick and Ed Olczyk return with authentic NBCSN presentation. They’ll be joined again by TSN’s Ray Ferraro between the glass.

    Superstar Authenticity is also included. Every superstar has their own attention to detail looks from tinted visors, to skates and even stick tape.

    The new additions to this year’s presentation are fan favorites for everyone. Playoff beards finally make their debut in virtual gaming with attention to detail on each players beard patterns, length and growth. In other words, don’t expect Sidney Crosby to have a longer playoff beard than Henrik Zetterberg.

    Also making their debut are the lovable mascots. From Blades to Bailey (Kings) and Youppi (Habs), NHL 16 includes each mascot from the league to add to the game day atmosphere.

    Bruins mascot Blades will make his virtual hockey debut in NHL 16 (Photo credit: Electronic Arts)

    Bruins mascot Blades will make his virtual hockey debut in NHL 16 (Photo credit: Electronic Arts)

    Finally, the games presentation puts a great focus on distinct arena atmosphere, which will especially come in handy during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Be a GM, Be a Pro and season mode. From the cannon going off at Nationwide Arena when the Blue Jackets score a goal to Zombie Nation blasting after a Bruins goal and whiteouts, rally towels and the “C” of Red during playoff time, each rink will mimic it’s real-life counterpart.

    NHL 16, which features three-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews as its cover athlete, will be released on September 15th for the XBOX One and Playstation 4, and is available to pre-order now through major retailers.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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