Top 5 Reasons We’re Excited for NHL 18
Between growing up in the south and rarely encountering anyone who was more than a casual fan of hockey, I seldom found myself paying attention to the sport. My last experience with EA’s beloved franchise was in 2003 when my best friend and I played against each other in order to determine who could date the most popular girl in our elementary school class. Long story short, he won and I was devastated. Ah, the bewilderment of childhood. Fast forward fifteen years and I’ve returned to the sport in the form of NHL 18. The game is a mere month and a half from its worldwide release, and after spending several hours with the beta, I can say that I’m ecstatic about it. Without further ado, here are the top five reasons I’m excited for NHL 18.
5 – Creative Gameplay
The Developers behind NHL 18 have openly stated that they’ve strived to implement the speed, skill, and creativity of younger players breaking into the league. Although the series is already recognized for fluid hockey action, the addition of new, creative attack dekes increases the pace and action of the game. Whether I was shooting between the legs or executing what hockey connoisseurs describe as a back-handed toe drag, I always felt in total control of my actions; and, more importantly, skilled. Granted, I missed the vast majority of my shots, but my offensive shortcomings were redeemed on defense. NHL 18 also includes the new defensive skill stick which enables players to counter attacks with pokes and sweeps. If there’s one action I excel at, it’s poking opposing hockey players with my stick. I lost every match I played, but only by small margins, all thanks to the new defensive feature.
4 – Smarter A.I.
Regardless of the genre, unintelligent A.I. can be a nuisance. In sports games, adequate A.I. is an absolute necessity. Thankfully, NHL 18’s A.I. players are smarter, as they’re capable of executing everything the player can on both offensive and defense, including dekes and the defensive skill stick, which maintains a consistent flow in games. Additionally, the game’s passing feature has been built from the ground up to include improved lead and bank passes. On several occasions, I intentionally banked passes off the walls of the rink to maneuver around opponents. Whether passing to or receiving from my teammates, I did so with grace and pizzazz. I turned over countless passes, but in doing so I felt as if my teammates could practically predict my moves before I committed them. That level of intelligence is satisfying because I’d much rather be frustrated with my own performance versus the actions of players I can’t control.