As reported by our Fansided mothership, the first details on NHL 15 are coming on Monday. For me, this is kind of a big deal.
See, I used to be an avid sports gamer. I’d buy football, hockey, baseball and basketball games very year, and sometimes more than one from each sport back when that was actually possible.
It’s different now, as I simply don’t have the time to play most sports games, and I’ve grown to prefer sims like the OOTP and Football Manager series. But I still mess with NHL, partially because I love hockey and partially because its been a consistently good franchise over the years with very few exceptions.
Though it ended up not mattering because I didn’t get a PS4 or Xbox One at launch, I was a little surprised when EA Sports announced that NHL 14 would not make the leap to the new consoles. That means there’s even more anticipation for NHL 15, as anyone who cares wants to see what tricks the people at EA Sports Vancouver have up the sleeves of their hockey sweaters.
My colleague Mike Straw thinks we might get an initial list of features in this first announcement tomorrow, and I hope that’s the case. That being said, I figured I’d approach this from the opposite direction than people usually take and list a few things I don’t want to see from the new game:
More emphasis on the graphics than the gameplay
This could just be dismissed as a matter of personal preference, and I’ll readily admit I’m not one to place too much emphasis on graphics. For me, the NHL games already looked plenty good on seventh-gen consoles, so I’m sure the PS4 and Xbox One versions will shine in that department.
What makes me nervous is that during previous console transitions, we ended up with pretty games that simply didn’t play all that well. Madden had problems making the jump to both PS2 and Ps3, for example.
The extra time that EA Sports Vancouver had makes me optimistic this won’t be the case with NHL 15, but I dread seeing visuals and animations listed as the first thing on the feature list. Give me the steak, please, because I already know the amount of sizzle will be acceptable.
A complicated control scheme
We all like more precision and realism in our sports games, but it’s definitely possible to go overboard. In other words, just because you can make the controls really complicated in order to model every possible way a person could move a hockey stick doesn’t mean you should.
There’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck between detail and playability, and NHL games don’t always get it exactly right. I live in fear of a day when each skate is controlled by a separate analog stick. Crap … I hope I didn’t give any of the developers any ideas.
Too many fights
Hockey fights are great as long as both people in them are willing participants and no one is seriously hurt. Good fight experiences are always welcome in NHL games as far as I’m concerned, but they can get old fast if the brawls happen too frequently.
I’m well aware that the chances of a fight starting can almost always be modified with a slider or something similar, but I shouldn’t have to tinker with the settings. Fights don’t happen in all real pro hockey games and they shouldn’t be breaking out all the time in virtual rinks.
Delay of game penalties
This one is sort of tongue in cheek, but while I understand why the NHL wants to penalize players looking to escape forechecking pressure by hurling the puck into the stands, this is one of the cheapest possible ways to gain an advantage in any professional sport. No one will be sad if this isn’t “in the game,” so please EA, just make it impossible for a puck to leave the ice unless it’s deflected. We’ll be glad you did.