Although most EA Sports fans got their first take of the next-gen with last year's games, NHL fans were unfortunately left to wait an extra year. Thankfully, though, the time has come for NHL 15 to finally show gamers what all this next-gen fuss is all about. In fact, members of EA's Access program are already playing the game as we speak.
However, those EA Access members are discovering that NHL 15 is, shall we say, light on the fixings. Where last year's game was a genuine pinnacle for the franchise, boasting almost every conceivable feature and mode under the sun, NHL 15 is decidedly light on content.
While the idea of a sports game missing a feature there or a feature here is not entirely unheard of, it's the fact that NHL 15's missing modes were included with last year's game that's the most perplexing. Isn't the point of an iterative sports game to build from last year's game not to take away?
Either way, that's what NHL 15 apparently delivers: a slightly less robust package of hockey-centered features. Of course, with the franchise jumping to next-gen, EA Sports likely had to make some concessions, but that won't diminish gamers' disappoint. See below for a full list of features that were in NHL 14 but are not in NHL 15.
- No GM Connected
- No Online Team Play (when this is patched into the game later this year, it will use real NHL players and teams)
- No EA Sports Hockey League
- No EA Sports Arena
- No Online Shootouts
- No Live the Life
- No Be A Legend
- No Winter Classic
- No tournaments or Battle for the Cup
- No season mode (you can only play seasons in Be A GM, which is limited to NHL teams)
- No NHL 94 Anniversary mode
- No custom music support
- No create-a-play designer
- Cannot customize each team's AI
- No create-a-team
- No way to edit individual players
- Practice mode is now limited to one skater vs. an AI goalie
- No custom camera option
- No Action Tracker replay highlights
- No Top 3 Stars at the end of games.
Be A GM:
- Yearly draft is fully automated by the CPU
- Cannot play the AHL games for your chosen franchise
- Players sent down to the minors do not accumulate any season stats
- No fantasy draft option
- No preseason games
Be A Pro:
- No option to sim ahead to the next shift
- You only play in the NHL; you cannot play for minor league teams
- The Memorial Cup tryout period is gone. You now begin by picking an NHL team, or by letting a random CPU team draft you.
- No All-Star game
- Cannot play against your friends
- No tournaments
- No mobile app
But wait, there's more. EA Sports has since come out to address gamers' concerns over the missing features and modes. They emphasize that although NHL 15 releases September 9th, it is still a work in progress. Moreover, the developer has provided proof of concept images and a pretty detailed schedule that outlines exactly what features are in development for post-release updates and when they might hit.
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By all accounts, it sounds like EA Sports was well aware of what features were missing from their game, but rather than miss the start of the 2015 NHL season they decided to get the game out on schedule. Thankfully, though, they are not simply wiping their hands and moving on, but working hard to make sure these features/modes make their way into the game. And those features and modes are:
Playoff Mode - Create a custom offline tournament bracket with up to 16 teams from any of the 12 leagues in the game. Play or simulate each game and track player and team stats throughout the tournament.
Be A Pro (Coach Feedback) - Get the coach’s feedback while you are on the bench. The coach will give you tips on how to stay on top of your game and grade you on your play.
3 Stars of the Game - At the end of the game, see the three stars and their high level stats. Will apply to every game mode.
Hockey Ultimate Team - Several content updates, including:• Changed layout and navigation in HUT store• New animations for player items• Improved edit lines screen to better identify players that are injured or require contract extensions
Online Team Play - Online multiplayer mode where every player on the ice can be human controlled.
GM Draft - For the first time in the NHL franchise, you will be put on the clock and feel the pressure like real NHL GM’s. You will now only have 3 minutes to make a draft pick. If the pressure is too much, you can also call timeouts to extend the amount of time you have to make a draft pick or potentially negotiate a trade. You can make trades at any time during the draft. The CPU will also propose trades to each other and the user throughout the draft.
So while EA Sports will ultimately make good on their promise to deliver a fully featured hockey sports experience, gamers should know that the game's not all there just yet. Yes, NHL 15 looks amazing and if our hands-on experience is any indication it plays amazing too, but that's only part of it. The rest will have to wait until later this month.
How do you feel about NHL 15 launching without some key modes and features from past games? Are you okay with it knowing that EA Sports is working to add them?
NHL 15 releases September 9, 2014 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.