Success in the franchise of hockey video games: NHL 17


Photo courtesy of Robert Welsher '17.

Robert Welsher, Staff Writer

The new Electronic Arts (EA) sports video game, NHL 17, is another success in the franchise of hockey video games. This year, NHL 17 took a big step in the right direction, adding new spins and tricks on offline and online gaming modes and took a bigger look on the customization part of the game.

Everyone’s biggest critique of video games is the gameplay. Some of the older games had complaints of it being too easy to score and take the puck away from people. NHL 17 offers great difficulty making the defenders pressure you on offense a ton more, giving less time to make decisions.

Although entering the zone may come easy, when you get in, a defender will automatically latch on to you and make it hard to shake him. Also, when playing the computer, if the user isn’t playing tough defense, the computer will make the user play on any difficulty by scoring, creating much closer games.

A lot of the big features like skating, shooting, deking, passing and hitting are the same, but the little improvements were noticeable in the new game as well. For example, the addition of net front battles was noticeable because whenever someone is around the net, a defender will tie them up and lift their stick. This prevents players to easily make passes across the crease for easy one time goals, and stops tips in front from point shots from being effective, putting a more realistic touch to the game. Also, EA sports put a lot of focus on goalies in this years game, adding new save animations. Goalies in the game are installed to make saves based on how they play in real life. All different goalies have a certain way to be beaten adding another layer to the game.

Continuing on the layers of this masterpiece of a game, the on ice trainer carried over from NHL 16. The on ice trainers are the visual reminders the game gives you either as an icon over your player, on the ice and in the net. The icon over your player will usually say “hustle”, “wrist shot”, “slap shot”, or “saucer pass” explaining what you should do in certain situations. The visual training displayed on the ice, for example, will be which zone a person should be covering, which would turn green if you are in the zone and doing your job and will turn red if you are not and leaving your assignment.

Also, if a person is trying to make a pass off the boards, it will show the user the trajectory of the pass to make it precise. Lastly, when the goalie comes out to contend the players shot, the net will appear shaded in parts that the goalie is leaving exposed, giving the user a better chance of scoring.

The customization part of NHL 17 in offline modes like franchise mode having added more decision making to the users. The users now have the options to control day to day topics that regular owners and GMs would control. Decisions like ticket prices, arena reinforcements, more in depth player contracts, player morals and the user can even relocate the team if desired.

More customization options that gamers will enjoy will be that they can customize a player’s celebration or “celly”, arena and goalie style. The celebration options are diverse and up to date, giving the user a lot of options to pick from. The “cellys” include throwing your glove in the air and shooting it, cooling down your stick as if it’s on fire, rowing a boat across the ice and even “dabbing” is in the game.

The arena is the first in the latest EA sports series and they go in depth in the creation right from the beginning. The user gets to include/create everything in the arena: the ice, boards, scoreboard, glass, stands, seats, stairs and even the music or animations after goals, penalties, power plays and wins. The goalie style creation is also the first in the NHL series, although they didn’t go as in depth into this option. All that is available to the user is the stance of the goalie. Even though it’s not as in depth it’s a start for gamers that favor the goalie position and give them a new view of the position.

Now, for gamers that love the fantasy draft aspect of sports games where you get to pick your own team through a draft, EA sports designed a game mode just for that. The new mode “Draft Champions” gives you the ability to draft a team through 12 rounds of drafting. Another look at the new mode is that the user can select their theme for the draft. For example, the best Canadian players, the up and coming stars, NHL all-stars, etc. Although, the fact that there are a lot of rounds in the draft, make the players selected in the later rounds not valuable, and a non factor when the user is playing the game. This new mode is great and gives gamers another outlet in a wide range of game modes.

Another new game mode in the game is the World Cup of Hockey tournament. This game mode lets you relive and stage the international tournament that takes place every 20 years in a video game. It includes all the rosters, jerseys and logos that the teams had in the real tournament. Besides those three things, the game mode is short lived because once the user plays it once they won’t play it again, since there is no flexibility in the mode. Despite the lack of variety, it’s another fresh game mode that players can experience when they buy the game.

The most popular game mode in all NHL games continues to stay on top and make improvements. The Ultimate team mode is an online and an offline game mode where the user unlocks card packs with points they earn in the games they play. Inside the card packs are players with all different skill levels, arenas, jerseys and contracts to apply to the users team.

In short, the game mode is franchise mode, but your team is always changing due to new card packs. The improvements Ultimate team includes something called “synergy bonuses”, where if the user acquires them in packs, they can use them to disable other players with similar skill sets. This improvement is great for giving gamers an edge in when they play online.

Also, EA sports finally gave gamers a way to dispose of all the unneeded cards they earn in packs in a positive way. Users can trade them in for complete card sets and premium rewards including legend players.

On the other hand, the EA sports hockey league made many improvements as well. The online game mode where the user and friends can join forces to play can select different player classes that can benefit the team. Also, when the users team moves up levels through the league, they receive badges that recognize achievements.

Although some of the new progressions in NHL 17 are massive and others may be subtle, there is no doubt that this game was a success from top to bottom. Minor blemishes in gameplay or in the menus make this game enjoyable for all gamers.