The Full Package
NHL 16 has re-introduced a number of modes to the fold and enhanced the existing ones. Additionally, a pre-release update has crammed in a bunch of extra features that weren’t previously advertised, which is a welcome surprise.
Be A Pro is back again, allowing you to take control of a single player throughout their career. For the first time, XP is no longer assigned manually; it tailors itself towards your playing style. If you want to target a specific area of growth, weekly training sessions also allow you to upgrade specific attributes. It’s a smarter and more realistic system than we’ve seen in the past.
For the first time, XP is no longer assigned manually; it tailors itself towards your playing style.
On the ice, sim shifts have finally returned. Coach feedback is provided upon joining the bench, and it’s an important tool to pay attention to. I did encounter a few issues however; scoring a D+ for teamwork despite making four assists doesn’t quite add up, even if I did lack ability in other areas. Be A Pro has been pushed to the forefront of NHL 16’s feature list this year, and you can see why. It serves as one of the highlights of this year’s game.
The biggest new feature in Be A GM comes in the form of player morale, and this can be affected by performance, roster moves, captain changes, team meetings, and more. There’s a range of other additions to the mode this year too, and all of these elements add together to create an in-depth, fun experience. Additional offline modes include Playoff Mode, Season Mode, and an in-depth Practice Mode. Unfortunately, there’s no room for the Winter Classic, and no custom tournament designer either. Be A Legend and Live The Life are missing too (as they were last year), but I can’t say I’m too bothered.
Back To The Future
The game’s online features are spearheaded by the return of the immensely popular EA Sports Hockey League, and there have been some alterations to the system this time, too. Now, it doesn’t matter who you are, what team you’re in, or how often you play EASHL; everyone is on the same level. Players are given a range of different player types to choose from, each providing their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s a fantastic system, and I’m a big supporter of this skill-based approach after growing tired of the mode’s reliance on attributes and unfair advantages in the past. EASHL offers the usual lineup of Online Seasons & Playoff matches, but there’s no team customization this year, so custom jerseys are out.
One of the biggest additions to Hockey Ultimate Team is the addition of Offline Seasons, providing the ability to play season games against the CPU. Aside from this, HUT focuses on refinements rather than an overhaul this year. Drop-In and Online Team Play are back, and Online Versus and Online Shootouts add extra variety to the game’s online features.
Now, it doesn’t matter who you are, what team you’re in, or how often you play EASHL; everyone is on the same level.
Unfortunately, I did encounter input lag across all of the game’s online modes, especially in EASHL and Online Team Play. A quick web search informs me that a few others have experienced this issue in the recent EASHL beta too, and players are still suffering with it since the emergence of the NHL 16 EA Access trial period. Due to the fast-paced nature of hockey, this input delay made for a frustrating experience and one that never allowed me to appreciate fully the game’s range of online modes. The majority aren’t currently affected, but for those who are, I’m hoping that the problem will be identified shortly and a solution can be found.
Other features include the Action Tracker and Instant Replay, which continue to provide a detailed method in which to view your most precious moments. Of course, there’s also a vast number of gameplay settings that can be tailored to your requirements. There’s a lot behind the hub in NHL 16, and it’s a relief to be reunited with a vast array of missing features from last year’s entry.
NHL 16 is the game hockey fans have been waiting for since the series made its jump to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
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Although it’s easy to dismiss last year’s game as a poor effort, it proved to act as an important base for the future of the series. NHL 16 has used this foundation to improve on the series’ authenticity and realism while implementing and enhancing the features that fans have come to expect over the last few years. I’m disappointed that I have been plagued by online input delay issues during my time with the game, and hopefully EA will be able to identify a solution for the small minority who have been affected by it.
On the ice, NHL’s gameplay has never been this smart, this authentic, or this good. Sure, there’s still a few missing features and there’s scope for improvement in some areas, but NHL 16 features a wide range of modes, smartly designed, and with plenty of longevity to last throughout the next year. Hockey fans, this is the real deal.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.