EA Sports has taken heat over this year's release of NHL 15 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a game which lacks many basic features that were in last year's game. It appears EA is attempting to make amends with the first Free Content Update for the title getting released this week. That said, the list of added content makes us wonder - again - just what kept these features from making it into the initial game upon release.
The patch brings back at least some of the missing features that people were complaining about. The biggest of these is Playoff Mode, which lets players put together an offline bracket tournament with up to 16 teams. Players can use existing NHL franchises or select teams from up to 12 different leagues. In addition, players in Be A Pro mode now receive "Coach Feedback" while they are on the bench, giving them a grade on their most recent shift and tips on how they can improve their play.
Hockey Ultimate Team will now benefit from updated layouts and improved menu navigation, and will also be easier to identify players that need attention, such as those that are injured or are due for a contract extension.
The funniest "new feature" is that players will now be told who the 3 Stars of each game were after the conclusion of the contest. Yes, a bit of content that has been included at launch on just about every modern NHL game as far back as we can remember is now being promoted as "free content' in a post-launch patch. We're happy to see that whatever hurdle kept the coding for that one from being completed has been overcome.
Unfortunately (for EA), these updates and details are sure to bring renewed criticism; when you consider that almost all of the new features listed here have become afterthoughts in game design (or are already in this year's Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions), it's hard to avoid rolling eyes among even devoted fans.
To be fair, EA Sports does seem to realize it dropped the ball (or lost the puck) on this one, and the developer is promising additional free content patches in coming weeks. Staples like Online Team Play will return and the game will feature a new GM Rookie Draft for Be a GM mode.
The question now becomes whether these updates ares too little, too late. Annual sports titles have a finite shelf life for all but the hardcore (which NHL admittedly has plenty of), and the fact that the 2014-15 NHL season will already be underway before some of these updates arrive won't help. But even when the planned updates are release, the game is still missing plenty of features compared to the last release.
All things considered, these added features won't do much to change the basic question facing hockey fans: are they better off picking up the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of NHL 15 and tolerate last-generation graphics - or simply replay last year's game, and edit the rosters for themselves.
Source: EA Sports