Monday, September 8, 2014

NHL 15 vs. NHL 14

After playing the pre-release version of NHL 15 we have decided we are going to play on the 360. Despite the exact same interface there have been some changes to gameplay which I will discuss below.

Here are differences I have noticed between NHL 15 vs. 14:
  • No touch icing makes the game quicker and eliminates those times your CPU D decide to take a terrible line to the puck.
  • Icing in general seems to be called more consistently. As opposed to last year where it was basically a coin flip as to when they were going to call it.
  • Injuries seem to make much less of a difference. I don't know if this is a side effect of just not having many cards but I have barely noticed a difference when I get injured.
  • The game misconduct is back in. This is really good because it should cut down on people running you from behind. The downside is I have seen a couple of five minute interference calls where they look no worse than incidental contact.
  • The high flip dump super bounce is gone. So people can't cheese you with those.
  • Off puck collisions between players on the same team could both help and hinder you depending on who it happens to.
  • The physics just feel somewhat different overall. To this point I would call them improved.
There are other observations I think are too clouded by lack of attributes to be able to come to any solid conclusions. These include the poke check being poor and scoring being difficult. I suspect these are going to clear up over time just like in 14.

So there you have it. Are these changes enough to justify buying NHL 15 on last gen? That is a call you will have to make.

Friday, September 5, 2014

NHL 15: EASHL Fail

The game I was most looking forward to this year was NHL 15 on Xbox One. The though of a better engine and crisper graphics combined with the ability to stream to Twitch or just grab highlights on the go seemed like the breath of fresh air the series needed. As it turns out this was not to be. EA decided to leave EASHL (and other modes) out of next gen in favor of overhauling the presentation, crowds, and arenas.

In my professional life I do custom application development. This decision from EA is like getting a complaint from a client that their application is running slowly and responding by prettying up the UI. If we did something like that we would be fired. It is difficult to fire EA because there are zero alternatives for NHL games. What I did though was I got EA Access refunded and am not buying NHL 15 on next gen. I would encourage you to do the same.

However, the story doesn't end there. EA happily informed us we could still play EASHL on last gen. Reluctantly, my teammates and I resolved ourselves to the disappointment and decided to suffer another year in the 360 ghetto to play the only must have feature of the NHL series. At this point I think things are about as bad as they are going to get.

I was wrong. As you can see by watching that video they have basically taken NHL 14 and changed the logo to NHL 15 and forced you to look a Bergeron all the time in the menus. I am grabbing the pre-release as I write this to confirm myself but at this point I am not inclined to keep my NHL 15 pre-order for 360. If the gameplay is still exactly the same as 14 then why play it or more importantly *pay* for it.

I will be commenting on Twitter as I try out 15 on the 360 this weekend. I may follow up a with a blog post but it is looking like this may be a lost year for the NHL series. I can see my team just staying with 14 and then maybe upgrading to next gen if they follow through with their promise of implementing OTP in a future patch. But I could just see waiting for NHL 16 as well.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

NHL 14: Build of the Week -- Sniper Winger

This week (month/year) I am featuring a build I just started playing recently. The sniper.

Legend 3
Regular flex
Second curve from the bottom
13" Skates

Deking: 80
Hand-Eye: 85
Offensive Awareness: 80
Passing: 77
Puck Control (+12): 90
Slap Shot Accuracy: 66
Slap Shot Power: 65
Wrist Shot Accuracy (+7): 90
Wrist Shot Power (+7): 84

Aggressiveness: 84
Body Checking: 66
Defensive Awareness: 86
Discipline: 75
Faceoffs: 65
Fighting Skill: 65
Shot Blocking: 65
Stick Checking (+7): 86

Acceleration (+7): 90
Agility (+12): 88
Balance (+7): 75
Durability: 75
Endurance: 87
Speed (+12): 90
Strength (+7): 83

The offense is going to look somewhat weak compared with a playmaker outside of the shot and puck control. You aren't going to feather great passes across the ice to people for one timers unless they are completely open. What you will do though is score goals in bunches. This build puts pucks in the net like no other. The shot is nicely balanced and will pick corners with ease. The puck control lets you hang onto pucks in high traffic areas so you can get your shot away.

Defensively it looks somewhat weaker than a playmaker as well but it has a surprisingly good pokecheck given the rating. The solid aggression and defensive awareness make this build respectable at picking up loose pucks as well. While the body checking is low it is notable how often this build knocks people down. That may have something to do with the athletics.

One of the things I never liked about sniper before was how it felt skating. It was awkward and didn't turn well and seemed like it was a step down from most other choices. This setup though feels very quick and responsive with the maxed acceleration, agility, and speed along with the 13" skates. Balance and durability are just enough to get by. Strength is maxed here as well and while it is not a very high rating it seems to factor in to how well the build hits.

How to play this build?  Pretty much get open in good scoring position and fire away when your teammates set you up. Or pick up the puck with speed in the neutral zone and beat the goalie off the rush. You are the trigger man with this build. This is not a support build. If you aren't going to shoot a lot then I suggest picking another build.