Last year, EA Sports introduced a feature called “Hockey IQ” for its ‘NHL 13′ game. It was a feature that, while helpful to the quality of the gameplay, had its fair share of issues.
The AI was supposed to be smarter than years past, but instead there was many a time where, instead of trying to put on pressure, the AI would simply cycle the puck before losing possession; with a teammate clearly offside, the AI would still skate the puck into the zone at full speed, and cause a whistle.
The team at EA Vancouver took the issues — and there were plenty — that plagued the so-called “Hockey IQ”, and fixed them up in a way that should make games much more competitive.
♦Player Facing: Players will do a much better job opening up for passes/shooting opportunities. You will notice that they will better position themselves to let their own team’s shots through, and get ready for deflections and/or resulting rebounds.
♦Keeping the Puck In: Players are now more aware when they are close to the blueline and will take the extra care needed in ensuring they keep the puck in the offensive zone.
♦Avoiding Offsides: Players will do a better job of adjusting their route to ensure they remain onside as the play enters the zone.
♦Shooting Analysis: Smarter decision making based on where the goalie is and the situation. Affects the types of shots they take and the location of the shot. For example: If they see someone on their team driving the net on an odd-man rush, they’re more likely to shoot low at the pads to produce a rebound.
♦Gap Control: Defenders will be more aware of the gap between themselves and the forwards as they breakout, progress through the neutral zone and into the defensive end. They will also make smarter decisions in selecting whether they should play loose or to tighten the gap by recognizing their opponent’s offensive ability versus their own defensive capabilities.
♦Blueline Entry: A.I.defenders do a better job of recognizing the approach of an incoming offensive attack and will pick their moments to step up and lay a hit at the blueline, get a stick towards the puck or in the passing lane, or drop back into a more controlled gap. This will result in the need to read the defense when entering the zone and to vary the approach accordingly.
♦Player Facing: A.I.defenders will do a better job of ensuring they’re facing the proper direction and are aware of where the puck is when covering point-men and forwards in front of the net.
♦Power play logic has been improved to ensure that a team on the Power Play isn’t overly committed to attacking. This ensures that the PP team can still be defensive minded when they need to be.
Line Change Logic
♦Players now have more awareness of the right time to change. They’ll do a better job of understanding the risks and rewards when determining whether they should come off or stay on for a critical situation, based on the opportunity vs. pressure and/or time of game.