The list of features and game modes to be included in EA Sports’ NHL 16 reads like the list of missing features from the franchise’s next-gen console debut.
NHL 15 was by and large a disappointment. It looked beautiful and the gameplay was where it needed to be, but overall the game felt hollow.
Out-of-the-box issues ranged from minor quibbles like a lack of a fantasy draft option to the exclusion of popular modes like Live the Life and EA Sports Hockey League. Patched-in fixes did little to lift spirits of even the franchise’s most dedicated enthusiasts.
NHL 16 appears to be poised to properly usher the franchise into the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One era.
EA Sports officially unveiled its features list for NHL 16 on Tuesday. The game is set for a September 2015 release. Here’s a look at what to expect.
Online play overhauled: The popular EA Sports Hockey League returns. 6 vs. 6 Online Team Play will also be included and an Online Couch Co-op option will be available for fans who prefer more face-to-face play with friends.
Be A GM changes: The NHL series’ franchise mode left much to be desired with its trimmed down NHL 15 effort. A Player Morale function seeks to inject this year’s game with another level of realism.
Via EA Sports:
Each player on your NHL and AHL team has a different personality that you will have to manage. Deal with trade demands, teammate relationships, and much more by calling team meetings or adjusting your roster to directly affect your team’s on-ice performance.
Be A Pro fixes: Like previous versions on last-gen consoles, ‘Be A Pro’ will allow players to simulate to their next shift in the game’s single-player career mode rather than watching the game from the bench while awaiting your next opportunity to hit the ice.
Gamers will also have the opportunity to work their way through the junior ranks in the CHL, like in last-gen incarnations, with dreams of going first overall in the NHL Entry Draft.
Gameplay: A precision skating engine and seamless puck pickups promise to create an even more fluid gameplay experience. Tweaks individual arena atmospheres and story-driven commentary should inject the franchise with some life, especially if the latter can avoid monotonous repetition.
Playoff beards: NHL 16 promises to offer more authenticity with enhanced facial features and custom equipment options with the league’s biggest superstars.
It will also feature EA Sports’ first foray into the realm of playoff beards. The defunct 2K Sports NHL series implemented playoff beards with its NHL 2K9 release, but attention to facial hair detail has since fallen by the wayside on the console circuit.
There will be “accurate representations of beard patterns, length, thickness, and growth rates for individual players,” so there’s that.
So it looks like next-gen gamers will finally get that hockey game they’ve longed for, even if it’s a year or two too late. NHL 16 will only be available on PS4 and Xbox One, with an NHL Legacy release slated for the PS3 and Xbox 360.