Hockey is a passion of mine and has been since I was old enough to draw breath, my other true love is video gaming and when you combine the two you have a very happy Dino!
NHL 19 was finally unveiled for all to see last night and it looks at first sight that EA has decided to try a different approach in bringing the sport we love to the masses.
It seems that EA has it’s sights firmly set on online play with this year’s offering and I know what you’re thinking;
“Oh no not other human beings”
I have to admit that I was thinking the same thing at first. The thought of being permanently stuck in an online environment is enough to give me a headache but EA looks to have taken a page out of the incredibly successful NBA 2K handbook in this year’s game, especially it’s mycareer layout.
NHL 19 now features a brand new online hub: ‘World of CHEL’, that contains four very different modes of play.
The first being the bread and butter of the online experience EASHL where you and your friends create a club and take on the world, the other three are more pick-up-and-play.
NHL THREES was introduced last year and while nobody I have spoken to has ever bothered with the mode it would seem EA have brought it back for a second season and here’s hoping they’ve made some changes to the formula.
The other two modes are NHL PRO-AM and finally NHL ONES.
The idea behind NHL Ones is to get people playing quickly in a basic online experience that is inspired by playing hockey outdoors on the pond.
Think Gordon Bombay in the Mighty Ducks movie.
The first thing that players are tasked with when entering the World of CHEL is to create a brand new character in one of twelve forward or defenceman classes. Players are then given the choice to add two ‘traits’ and one ‘specialization’ that is revolutionary to the series and will offer a greater deal of customization and creativity.
NHL Ones isn’t exactly that… it’s 1v1v1 and it’s every man for themselves on the pond with no rules or stoppages. These matches only last for four minutes and players compete to earn Hockey Bags which can unlock gear for their created characters to distinguish themselves from everyone else.
Loot crate anyone?
Any of the World of CHEL modes will grant XP and rewards and as you improve you will move up through four tiers of rinks ranging from the resort parking lot to the main resort itself, NHL Ones offers a daily competition with the winner of the most matches being declared the champion.
Can’t wait for Finland to be crowned champion every day…
Away from the aforementioned World of CHEL, the minds at EA Vancouver have promised gameplay improvements in NHL 19.
Sadly it isn’t the Frostbite engine.
EA Sports Real Player Motion technology (RPM) is to be implemented for the first time in the series history after making it’s debut in FIFA 18, a game that looked rather splendid indeed!
NHL 19 lead producer Sean Ramjagsingh said: “Our game was very uniform”
For NHL 19, brand new motion capture was filmed for skating and the Real Player Motion technology is said to be “very precise” in how it blends animation together.
Supposedly this means that players with actually begin to feel different to one another, so a hulking brute like Dustin Byfuglien won’t be flying around like the lighting bolt that is Taylor Hall and similarly the latter won’t hit the same.
This new RPM technology also means that the highlight of hockey also appears more realistic, the hits. Players now brace in preparation of hits and it will now look like a player has really finished off a check.
This new system has also supposedly fixed the long standing puck pick-up issue.
I will believe that when I see it.
Another huge change is the Franchise mode, this time round the team at EA Vancouver have focused on the modes extensive scouting set-up which long time fans of the mode have complained about being too simplistic.
In NHL 19 players are given a separate scouting budget and will have to hire and fire scouts. NHL 19s creative director Will Ho said of the new scouting system: “It’s deep enough to be a standalone product”
The be a pro mode didn’t change again… but they gave you deep scouting.
The last addition to the title is the outrageous boatload of legends that they are bringing to the table. More than TWO HUNDRED legends will be available in the game in a variety of modes thanks to an agreement reached between EA and the NHL Alumni Association although the only legend anyone is talking about is the great one himself, Wayne Gretzky, who makes his triumphant return this year.
The game is slated to launch on September 14th on Ps4 and Xbox One and for those that pre-order the Legends or Ultimate edition they can play 3 days early on September 11th.
Still no EIHL though…