REVIEW: EA Sports' NHL 16

by Rob Poirier (@RobFeature)

Today is a day that many hockey fans circle on their calendars each year. It is one of the sure signs that a new season is just on the horizon. That's right: today, EA Sports released another "just-different-enough-that-they-can-charge-for-it" entry in their popular NHL series of video games! And because I care so much about you all, I lined up at midnight to get my hands on a copy, just so you would know exactly what to expect! Read on for my comprehensive analysis of each game mode!

Please note: as the game is brand new, there are still some pretty glaring issues. You can bet these will be patched in the future, but until then, I took note of every bug I encountered. Nothing will catch you by surprise, dear reader! 

MODE: Quickplay

WHAT IT IS: This is the classic NHL game mode. Hit the ice alone, with a friend, or with angry strangers on the internet and live out your dream of lacing them up in the biggest league there is! This year's version of the game features improved "Authentic Arena" experiences. Youppi works the crowd in Montreal, cannons are fired in Columbus, and Leafs jerseys rain down from the stands in Toronto. All told, it makes for a truly immersive experience.

This very REAL screenshot was captured by @Capital_Gains65
BUGS: I played a game in Florida and the crowd must have failed to render. The arena was completely empty.


WHAT IT IS: This mode allows you to step into the shoes of an NHL GM, and it is just as magical as it was when you and your friends would pretend as kids! Argue over nickels and dimes with athletes who are paid tens of millions of dollars to play a simple child's game! Try to circumvent the very same salary cap that your owner fought to put in place (even if it meant jeopardizing the sport)! Ignore the fact that Brian Burke is lurking outside your office, rubbing his hands together and hungrily licking his chops!

BUGS: I played as the Ottawa Senators and the game crashed any time I tried to perform an action that would increase my team's expenses.

MODE: Be a Pro

WHAT IT IS: This mode lets you create your very own player, who can be drafted into the NHL to play alongside all-stars such as Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, or even Zemgus Girgensons! Customize their attributes, gear, and appearance and take them all the way to the top!

BUGS: Edmonton was awarded first pick every year, no matter how many times I rebooted my XBox. Upon being drafted by them, my player's stats would experience a strange glitch which caused his confidence and morale attributes to drop all the way to zero.

MODE: Season

WHAT IT IS: This mode allows you to play through a full NHL season. Experience all the highs and lows that accompany a gruelling 82-game schedule. You can even make your own custom team (so long as it is based in Las Vegas)! 

BUGS: I played as the Canadiens and experienced some serious problems with the controls. No matter what buttons I pressed, I just couldn't get their skaters to the right spots. In fact, on the vast majority of nights, it felt like Carey Price was the only player out there...

@Gerv_Rebrand captured this REAL screenshot of every good Habs player doing their thing
MODE: Dynasty

WHAT IT IS: This mode is the big one. This is the mode that dedicated players spend most of their time playing. You are tasked with running an entire hockey club over the course of many years. Will your fans grow to love you? Will they hate you? Will any of them even be left after multiple simulated lockouts? You've got to play to find out!

BUGS: I played as the Leafs, and no matter how well I performed each October, the team automatically tanked after the All-Star break and missed the playoffs.

So there you have it! NHL 16 combines the elements you know and love with some minor improvements that they hope fans will appreciate. And come to think of it, that's exactly what your favorite hockey team does each year too! So treat this game like your favorite team: spend a bunch of your hard-earned money on it, then gradually become so disillusioned with the final product that you end up breaking your own TV. Sports rule!
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