Hey everyone, today I am talking about one of my favorite video game franchises in the NHL series and their recent open beta for the beloved game mode: EASHL.
What is EASHL?
EASHL is EA Sports Hockey league. It was first introduced in NHL 09 as a multiplayer mode where every player would control a position on the team. This was an instant favourite mode of many, myself included. It was included in every iteration save for last year. In fact, NHL 15 on the next generation consoles was nothing short of a colossal disappointment. The gameplay sure, looked nice, but the game was so bare bones it was sad.
EASHL? Gone. Gm Connected, where you played as different teams in a league? Gone. Be a Gm initially did not even have the draft, which was patched in a month later.
OperationSports, probably the leading community for sporting video games had a definite list of everything that was missing.
Luckily, I think EA Sports is listening and wanting to improve after last years let down. In just the two days that I’ve played, there are many improvements that are made.
EASHL is BACK! Biggest Pro, is simply the game mode is back.
Player Classes: Player classes replaces the old system of “cards” where based on the amount of games you played, games you won and Player Grade at the end of the game (which is based on Positioning, Team Play etc). This is a great change because everyone is now on an even playing field. In NHL 14, I was a Legend 2: that was a couple hundred games that I had to play. It was a tedious grind. Player Cards would unlock boosts which you could use on your player. Problem was, most boosts were either really good (skating, Shooting, passing) or utterly useless (fighting, aggressiveness was debated). No longer will you have these 5’5 Grinders who can just skate really fast because they are short. With Classes, players are given the choice of what role to play, for example Forwards would have Power Forward, Two Way Forward, Sniper, Playmaker, Grinder and Enforcer, with each class providing something different and unique. A Power Forward (which is what I mostly played) was more physical than a playmaker, but the playmaker had better hands and passing ability. There’s enough differentiation between classes and the game is now more based on skill than whoever has the best boosts.
Passing and Pass Physics : Passing feels much more realistic this year. For example, dump ins are now a legitimate strategy as the puck no longer bounces over player heads. The puck feels heavier too. Passes are crisper and have more weight to them. It just feels so much better compared to 15.
Skating: Skating is a positive as well. No more receiving the puck and turning around feeling like I am playing in mud. It’s much more fluid this year and it’s impressive considering it’s a beta.
Goalies: Scoring is tough. Most games I played were 2-1, 1-0 affairs. No more of this short side sniping. Goalies were very solid (save for one game where ours couldn’t shut his five hole). They are tough to score on and I think that’s a good thing since it makes the game more challenging.
Faceoffs: Faceoffs are ridiculously hard and inconsistent. Maybe it would help having the visual helper, but when I played Centre it was terrible. Could not win a draw against the other guy no matter what I did. Worse of all: The Faceoff spamming is still around. The guy would just constantly move his stick on the faceoff and still won. EA needs to fix it.
Offensive AI: The defensive AI is not bad. I Found it really tough to get by the AI defender, which is a good thing since in the past AI players were definitely a hindrance when it came to defense. However, Offensively there are still some issues. Passes not hitting their mark (which I get, it’s a game after all), drop passes to no one, constantly shooting into a guy right in front of them. Not great AI there.
Menu Music: Where is it? I know it’s going to be the lame music from last year, which is a con in it’s own right, but it’s so quiet.
Customization of Hair: We can customize the player’s beard length, color and style (which are all awesome) but you can’t do this for a players hair? Uh, why exactly EA?
Overall though, I really enjoyed the Beta so far. I do not think it’s a stretch to say that this game is better than NHL 15 in every regard which excites me since this is only a beta. It’s a shame that the NHL 16 Beta is only a week long because it’s really fun. It felt great playing with my friend and other people. People should be very excited.
With NHL 16 coming in September, I’ll try my best to mimic the overall’s for players for the Edmonton Oilers. Note: EA was awfully generous with players last season. Some guys are a bit lower, but will probably have a higher potential (like McDavid, Klefbom, Nurse, Reinhart)
Hall (88)- Nugent-Hopkins (87)- Eberle (87)
Pouliot (83)- McDavid (82)- Purcell (83)
Korpikoski (82)- Letestu (81)- Yakupov (82)
Hendricks (79)-Lander (79)- Pitlick(77)
Sekera (86)- Fayne (82)
Klefbom (82)-Schultz (81)
Reinhart (79)- Gryba (78)
Want to play?
A couple teams that I know of from friends on either system have some open spots.
On the Xbox One, my team is Pumas and on the Playstation 4, it’s McOilers.
I hope you guys enjoyed my little review of NHL 16 Beta. Be excited!
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- Edmonton Oilers: Breaking down every NHL Trade Deadline move