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I have finally figured out what is up with this game and, perhaps, ways to improve it.

I am an OG NHL veteran. I have had every single game they ever made. Maybe it is because I am 35 years old, maybe not, but this new generation of NHL games does not have "it". I don't think the game is garbage, mind you. I just don't get excited to play it anymore. Playing 3's with my buddies is fun but it is not like it used to be where we couldn't wait to play together (yes, we all have wives, girlfriends, kids, etc. but we are with the right people I suppose and don't have to beg for game time). Playing 6's is cumbersome and limiting. I play a lot of Franchise Mode but still there are a few things that could be addressed without a total overhaul even as I really put effort into my sliders trying to remedy some of this stuff.

What is "it"? "It" is what brings you back. It's the feeling of thinking "I am going to play 6 games of my franchise tonight." At most, I can play 3 games and get bored now. It's the feeling of going to bed thinking you didn't get enough.

Some things I would like to note:

- Being able to feel the crowd.

I remember, back in the day, when star players got booed, goals were scored and the volume of the crowd was actually measured (NHL 94 and prior I believe) and you could set noise records within your arena. The crowd feels empty or hollow now. It is hard to describe but I really don't feel it. You score the go-ahead goal late in the third and 15 seconds later the crowd is silent again. It is really weird. You mount a comeback and the crowd remains "there". You are getting destroyed and, while the stands clear a bit, the noise is the same. No boo's, nothing.

- The satisfaction of really working a hockey-play and finally beating a tough defensive team.

Don't get me wrong, hockey is possible in this game. However, considering you have to take an absurd amount of time to power up a hard pass, for instance, makes quick give-and-go's or tic-tac-toes almost out of the question.

In racing games, if you hold R2 completely depressed you are going "fastest" if you slightly hold it you are "slowest". This should be the passing mechanic. A full, quick depression should be an instantaneous, hard pass while a slight, quick depression should be a tiny touch pass.

Another example is this "hustle button" garbage (sorry, Ben, but this is an atrocious feature and should be removed). If you get beat in the neutral zone flat-footed, I don't care who you are, you are beat and out of the play. End of story. Too many times this "hustle button" is used as a crutch for people who are foolish enough to go for a big hit, miss, and then find their way back into the play. That limits the space and also does not punish people the way it should. The acceleration/top speed mechanic in-game is sufficient.

A final example is the most important. IF YOU ARE NOT FACING THE PLAY YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, INTERCEPT A PASS CLEANLY. Yes, it could hit off your stick and deflect depending on timing and accuracy, but never should it be a clean pick and head the other way especially when a hard pass is thrown. Further, not facing the play should be a death sentence on defense. Seriously, the name of the game in real hockey is facing the play with your head on a swivel. If you are turned from the play, you should be toast.

- Shutting down a high-powered offensive team.

Again, this is do-able but there are certain things that really irritate those who do try and play position.

First example, the S-Cut-Dangler people. So, in similarity to what I wrote above about being beaten and being out of the play, if you have ever seen even an ECHL player skate down the ice with big goofy S-Cuts and not either get ran over or dispossessed, I would pay for this video. If that is your go-to move and you are a success in this game it is not because you are good. It is because you are manipulating a game that is struggling with a few skating mechanics because duplicating skating is quite difficult. To remedy this you can use a few, non-hockey plays. First, turn off auto back skate. This allows better movement. Next, you can just bump into the person with stick almost on stick and they will lose the puck. You don't have to poke check or even stick lift to win the puck. You are basically bypassing hockey to play hockey. The point of those two examples is this...in hockey you have a slew of things to defend against ballerinas. First, lose poke check and stick lift and combine them into the "Stick check" button. This button would try to achieve stick on stick (a poke check) or a tie up (much like the net-front battles and stick lift) depending on circumstance, and allow for less variability in who wins these lose pucks. Plus, you can have several "stick checks" by each player creating a bit of a battle that should be based on positioning/timing. Everyone knows that loose pucks and who wins them is a crap-shoot. I mean, right now, poke check is a penalty and stick lift looks like a samurai trying to slice someone in half.

Next example, dump and chase. High off the glass should be a default dump in as well as having a chip-and-chase mechanic. As things stand currently, using dump and chase is only effective in getting it deep but does very little in winning the puck back OR counter attacking based off of a bad dump. The puck does not ride the dasher. The puck has minimal, odd bouncing tendencies. To slap it in deep is a mystery because sometimes your player shoots it like a 9 year old.

In regards to board play, the only thing I can suggest is limiting the "grab the guy" bubble so you can't hold someone up from 8 feet away.

Basic plays need to be incorporated. 2 on 1 logic, 3 on 1 with a center drive and a trailer logic, cycling like it was implemented 10 years ago, etc. Better defensive strategies, box + 1, Triangle + 2, man to man, etc.

- Franchise/Season, etc.

Why no records? Is that a licensing thing? I mean, a lot of the alumni players are already in the game. The trade logic is wacky. The CPU makes you go 25% above trade value for it to be fair? How about things like a team boost upon hiring a new coach that is the proper fit? A team turning on a bad coaching fit?

- EASHL

I understand but I also don't. A lot of people like the aesthetic stuff. A lot of people also think leveling solely for the purpose of acquiring that stuff is pointless. Why can we not have a system much like FIFA but with a twist? For instance, you get XP per game and that fluctuates depending on performance and the team winning. Certain attributes increase depending on WHAT YOU DO WELL. If you are a good passer, that increases. If your position is awful, it does down. I am not advocating for players becoming 99's. I am simply saying that giving people that grind alone would be enough to bring some people back to the mode itself.

There are more things I could add but this has taken a bit already and my brain is fried. I would like to have a discussion about this with people who may understand what I am saying. I have no interest in debating "get good" stuff or anything like that. This post is created in hopes of having a productive conversation that will help a game we love get better. The facts are as follows: the NHL budget is not big and they don't have a huge team there. So while we can all complain that they are "garbage", the reality is this small group is doing the best they can. It would be extremely helpful for them to have some real, tangible ideas that are actually attainable.

Cheers y'all.

Replies

  • I agree with everything you posted. The other day I plugged in nhl14 on my ps3 and could not believe how much has been taken out of the game to make it seem like an actual hockey game. The crowd is one, the things the players did on ice was another. The commentary was so much better also as was the presentation. The goalies also. Even the AI played better offensively and defensively. They didn't swarmover you like a horde of locusts. I would like to know who was the guy at Ea that put out the nhl19 beta. Best 2 weeks of this game on this gen of cosoles I ever had. No word of a lie, one night I was doing a play now game and fell asleep in the second period with the controller in my hand! Lol, I think I won!! Lol. Kinda wish they'd just make it a hockey game again. Best wishes for a happy holiday season everyone.
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