It is becoming a yearly tradition, September is always great (and expensive) for Sport-lovers. Madden, Pro Evolution, NBA, Fifa and why you are reading this review NHL. Last year some big changes were implemented, some good and some bad, for this year the biggest new feature is a 3vs3 mode. Curious? Read more to see if NHL 18 is something for you!
- Let us talk about the fantastic NHL Threes game mode first, when talking about NHL, most of the times my friends say that it is too complicated to start (I wonder if they played Madden..?!). It is a criticism that reached EA’s ears too. NHL Trees is a 3 vs 3 experience with less rules, faster gameplay and a much more arcade-like approach. I would go so far to say that EA could have released this mode as a stand-alone game, it has his own presentation, characters (mascots), announcer and more. Making it the perfect game mode to play with friend offline or online.
- In my humble opinion, the NHL franchise from EA has always been the most realistic one in their sport line-up. This year the simulation authenticity feels even higher. The artificial intelligence from opponents and off-the-puck team mates are brilliant and never seem to annoy or frustrate you. (Something I frequently have with Fifa)
- Newcomers will be happy with a brand new tutorial that even explains the basics with live-action video’s. It is a real significant improvement that everyone will love and use. Even returning players will still benefit from the on-screen trainings to learn some difficult advanced dekes. This isn’t Fifa so don’t expect to waltz dance the pitch and score, you will need some actual planning.
- One thing that deserves a quick positive shout is the menu customization. You can decide three “favorite” game modes and they will show up as quick selectable buttons. Making it really quick to launch Threes or playing against strangers.
- Let us not forget that NHL still doesn’t run on the Frostbite engine, but… visually NHL 18 looks great. While it isn’t new, seeing sticks break or players losing helmets is really cool. Especially the crowd looks alive and massive, the same can be said about the realistic and impressive cloth behavior. Another thing that is important, the performance is top-notch too on Xbox One, with no frame rate drops or stuttering.
- NHL 18 has an overwhelming list of game modes, the new Threes, Ultimate Team (< cash cow), Franchise, Draft, Be-a-Pro and more. While it is all nice and sweet to have many options, some modes for example Be-a-Pro lack some development features or simply feel redundant. Threes got so much attention and love that other game modes feel like, excuse my words, unwanted late coming childs.
- Animations go from rainbow awesome to volcano erupting bad, the transitions aren’t always right. It doesn’t really pop up while playing but while looking at replays or seeing a friend play the errors are pretty obvious.
- The Threes game mode is great but what about us hardcore gamers? You have a few slight changes compared to last year but too much development time was “lost” on Threes. I wish the game had a little bit more new touches. Sure, controlling your stick as a defender feels great and I’m glad they added that, but everything else feels untouched or abandoned.
- Commentary is by far the worst from any EA Sport game. I am not sure why this gigantic difference exist but it is so frustrating to hear the same things over and over again. Frequently the commentary doesn’t even match what you do on-screen.. making it even more annoying.
NHL 18 remains one of the best simulation sport games that comes from EA. The game doesn’t have much new but the new game mode Threes makes up for that. Threes is a great and expansive game mode that many players will love offline and online.