NHL 18, A New Type of NHL

NHL 18 Adds New Elements That Are Welcome Additions


courtesy of: nhl.com

John Fiorino, Entertainment Editor

EA Sports’ NHL 18 hit the shelves on September 15 with some new additions to the game that will leave veteran and rookie players alike, pleased.

Coming to NHL 18 is a major change to the overall rating system where most of the player’s overall ratings are lowered. The 85-86 player that gamers knew from NHL 17 are now 83 or 84. Interestingly, some of the player’s individual statistics like wrist shot power and slap shot accuracy may have not necessarily decreased. Perhaps it is the weighting of the other statistics that are bringing the overalls down.

One might remember in the game mode, “Be A Pro,” where the gamer would create their own NHL player. If the created player’s role was a sniper, they could be a 95 overall but have a 3.5 out of 5 physical rating. How can a player’s overall be so high with such a low physical rating? After all, “overall” stands for how the player preforms in every aspect of the game.

Another addition is something that the EA series hasn’t done since 2009 when they released the standalone game, “3-on-3 NHL Arcade.” “NHL Threes” is a new, arcade style game more where the player can choose three players from their favorite NHL team and play against friends, the computer or online against others.  The solo play is a campaign style format that is reminiscent of the GameCube/PlayStation 2/Xbox game “NHL HITZ 2003” where you play in different “circuits.” Doing these circuits gets the player improvements such as jerseys, players and logos. The fast paced game mode has no offside calls or icings so there are virtually no whistles unless a goal is scored.

What’s important to know is that if you’re playing in a “first to…” game mode where the winner is determined by a specific goal number is that no one is ever out of it. Regular pucks are worth one goal, but money pucks can be any number of things. There is a -2 puck where if you score, you get one goal but the other team is deducted two goals, making the game closer than ever.

For “Be A GM” mode that had a major change in NHL 17 to expand the player’s control to an owner, it gets yet another change for the most recent installment. In NHL 18, you can now add the 32 team to the NHL. The Vegas Golden Knights are the 31 expansion team and the first since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000, but now due to the imbalance in the divisions you can immediately add the 32 team as far away as Helinski, Finland or as local as Houston. Once added, you can then do division realignment if it were to make sense. In addition, if you disagree with what Vegas did at the expansion draft back in June, you can re-draft the team with your picks and play as them in their inaugural season.

Yet another update to the gameplay is the advanced deking and the defensive skill stick. Advanced deking makes it possible to pull off the classic Forsberg deke, separation moves like tapping the puck around a defenseman and a between the legs shot or pass. The defensive skill stick is the answer to this advanced deking with perfectly timed poke checks and cutting off the passing or shooting lanes. Each one of these and more can be learned in “Training Camp,” a mode that will teach you the ins and outs of all the new additions.

Two aspects of the game that still drastically need an update are the “Be A Pro” modes and “Draft Champions” in the “Hockey Ultimate Team” mode. Be A Pro has been largely the same for a number of years now with minor adjustments that make it feel like EA Sports Vancouver is settling when they develop the annual game. The biggest addition is the fact that the player can now request to be traded, which is welcome and could potentially be useful.

Draft Champions, which is involved with one of the most popular modes in the game in HUT, is essentially untouched in that the drafts that the player can choose to go through did not update from the previous installment of NHL 17. The main issue with both of these is the repetition. If EA Vancouver can make it feel like you’re not running in circles doing the same thing after about two months, then the NHL series will be on a much better path.

Finally, is the game worth $65? Overall, the game itself is a fun, fast paced game that is catered to both new and die-hard fans. The aspect that most shows that is the training camp mode because it gives the newer players the opportunity to improve their games to the level of the gamers that have been playing for years. The NHL Threes arcade mode is a sight that hasn’t been seen in almost a decade and is a welcome, relaxed arcade addition to a game that is serious among the die-hard community. NHL 18 has enough new elements that justify buying it and it looks to be headed in the right direction for the future.