EA Sports’ hockey franchise is coming back this fall on the new generation of consoles with NHL 16. Fans who were turned off by the relatively bare-bones offering NHL 15 provided on Xbox One and PS4 will be happy to know that EA is promising to restore many of the features that were left out of last year’s release.
Most notably, NHL 16 will feature the return of EA Sports Hockey League, a popular feature that was conspicuously absent from last year’s release on PS4 and Xbox One. It’s definitely coming back, though not without some changes. According to the official site, ESHL “has been reimagined and lets you choose specialized player classes to deliver a balanced competitive experience on the ice. Player skill and your ability to play as a team will now be the determining factor in who wins and loses hockey games.” How that will play out in practice is still a little fuzzy, but it’s clear some version of the feature will be available, which should make puckheads everywhere happy.
Also back is support for online matches with more than one-player per team. You’ll once again be able to head online for games of up to 6 v 6, and that includes support for multiple players on one couch playing cooperatively.
In addition to the restored features, NHL 16 promises improved arena atmosphere, better offensive and defensive control over your player and the puck, and “more emotion” in the commentary from returning game-callers Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Ray Ferraro. Perhaps Olczyk will break down crying if you score a particularly impressive wraparound goal, then publicly declare that it was a more beautiful sight than the birth of any of his four children, forever burning bridges in his home life. Fingers crossed.
One feature that won’t be returning is GM Connected, the series’ online dynasty mode. According to EA, the data showed most players were barely touching the mode, and those that did get involved in an online league usually dropped out after less than one season.
Also left out in the cold are NHL fans who don’t already have a new console, as NHL 16 won’t be seeing the light of day on Xbox 360 or PS3. EA does have a different offering in the works for those platforms, though.
NHL 16 is scheduled to launch in September of this year, so start sharpening those skates.