Sunday, August 25, 2013

NHL 14: Demo Impressions

I have spent a decent amount of time kicking the tires on the NHL 14 Demo and I figured I would give my impressions.

The Pros

  • Passing seems less random and more reliable.
  • There are some shots now that have a decent chance to beat the CPU goalies (toe drag through a screen seems to work a lot).
  • CPUs don't automatically take the puck away on cross ice passes.
  • Hits from behind are penalized more frequently now.
  • Can't hit people skating away from you unless they slow down quite a bit.
  • Poke check doesn't work from forever away anymore and is generally just less powerful overall.
  • Skating feels better. Fewer big turns and just overall smoother.
  • Backskating and transitions from forward to backskating feel much much better.
  • You can hang onto the puck easier while being jostled and even get a weak pass away while being bumped.
  • I have seen cross crease goals actually work at a reasonable rate.
  • Overall offense feels better.

The Cons

  • Forced fighting after big hits. It is dumb in the NHL it is dumb in NHL 14. This better not make it into the EASHL or even HUT.
  • No turtle option for those of us who don't care about fighting.
  • Still no easy way to pick which of two players who are skating near one another that you want to pass to. I don't get why they haven't at least attempted to fix this after years.
  • Those shots that work all the time can be a bad thing.
  • Still can't pick up a puck right near you at times because you can't turn in a circle quickly even going at the slowest speed.
  • Hitting window still seems a second too long. Need to call interference more often on later hits.
  • Overall defense feels more difficult.

Too Early to Call

  • Extended board play range lets you actually board play people. Not sure if this is going to cause problems or not.
  • Hitting is easier. There were already enough teams that ran around hitting like crazy not sure making hitting easier is going to be a positive.
  • Poke check doesn't block shots reliably anymore. This is part of the poke check not being godly but I liked being able to block shots standing up rather than having to crouch. You can still just get in the way of shots.
  • Screens work better. This is great from a scoring perspective but it is going to require some adjustments on defense to not screen your goalie.
Given how bad NHL 13 was (the worst of the EASHL versions by far) this is clearly a step up. The game just feels better overall. The offense feels more varied and CPU goalies can be beaten. Defense will be somewhat harder but that is fine if it means the offense will be more creative and fun. NHL 13 always felt like a slog even when you made good plays. This doesn't feel that way at least in the demo. The forced fighting is a concern but I am guessing they are just doing that in the demo so you have to see what the fight engine looks like. That is my most serious concern. Forced fighting in EASHL or even HUT could ruin the game. The other issues we will work around as we always have. 

I will be playing the prerelease and will try and post my impressions of how the EASHL works once I get some time with it.