I’m really bad at playing NHL, which will become abundantly clear if you watch the video above. It’s been a few years since I’ve played an NHL title but up until 2012 I had played every version since 94. The last few years I’ve played on and off at friend’s houses but never dove in. I’ll be changing that this year because I’m loving what I’ve tried in NHL 17 so far.
The NHL 17 closed beta gives us a pretty good look at what developer EA Canada has been working on over the last year and it looks mighty impressive. This year’s big focus is on team customization making you feel more in control than ever.
I found myself really drawn to the EA Sports Hockey League mode as it’s a huge refreshing update that the series needed. I’ve stopped caring about the game over the last few years because of how stale it had gotten. There was no motivation to continue buying it each year when it felt pretty much the same.
The EASHL mode starts you in a small community rink with no fans add some very basic jersey options. The more you play the more you can unlock and upgrade your team. The small arena you start in, quickly turns to a larger community rink, to a junior arena to an NHL-style rink. The more you play and win the more likely you are to succeed. What I like most about his mode is I can customize everything. I have the power to play with the ice to reupholstering the seats, tweaking the boards, designing the team entrance, picking victory songs and much more. It’s very impressive. You’re also able to upload your own logos for your jersey which is a really nice touch. It is unfortunate though you can’t scan your face in for your custom player, however. The NBA games have been letting you do that for years and it’s odd the NHL series hasn’t adopted this feature.
In terms of gameplay, NHL 17 feels incredibly realistic. Playing defense is actually an enjoyable experience this year. Stick lifts and poke checks are my go to moves and for the most part, they seemed to work as they would in real life. Trying to hit a nondefensive character isn’t going work in your favour and adds a level of depth to the game that hasn’t been there in past. The goaltending seems to be a little out of sync though as I watched garbage goals hit the back of the net, time after time, while well-timed shots get saved everytime. You’d think you were playing against Jonathan Bernier every game.
My biggest complaint is the pre-game visual intros that show real-life shots outside the arenas. The NHL series has been using these for far too long and they are incredibly jarring. Another complaint is I found the menus confusing especially for gamers just looking to hop right in.
For a beta NHL 17 is extremely good. It’s been given enough of a facelift for me to dive back in and lose myself for a good chunk of time this September
Thanks to my friends at Playstation for the beta code and yes for you eagle-eyed viewers I did record the video above on my Xbox One. I had it plugged into Elgato and didn’t feel like switching the HDMI cords.
GO HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND! I’m sure I will!