You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t impressed by the graphics in NHL 15 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It immediately joined the ranks of NBA 2K14, Infamous: Second Son and EA Sports UFC as one of the most beautiful games on the current generation of consoles.
On the other hand, it’ll be just as difficult to find people who are pleased with the feature set offered in the game’s first-ever current-gen release.
Modes like GM Connected and EASHL were omitted from the game. Other modes like Ultimate Team, Be a GM and Be a Pro have been reduced to much thinner and shallow versions of the options that made NHL 14 one of the most complete sports games on last-generation systems.
In my review, the limited options dragged the score down to a 7.25, and that was apparently one of the higher scores the game has received.
IGN’s Colin Moriarity scored the game a seven out of 10.
He cited many of the aforementioned issues and qualities. Moriarity writes: “On the ice, NHL 15 shines. But everything around it feels a tad bit empty.”
This is a common theme among reviewers, although some weren’t as kind or forgiving.
Brent Todd of Gamespot scored the game only a five out of 10. He said:
Even though NHL 15 plays a good game on the ice, the overall game is unconvincing and unfinished right now. EA could well deal with a number of these issues in the coming months, but it’s hard to understand why the company would launch such a major franchise for the new consoles with such an incomplete effort. A lot of work is required over the next few months to get this promising game on track with all of the game features that series fans want and deserve.
As Todd mentions, EA Sports is in the process of fleshing the game out. A recent blog post stated in detail the content-patch plans designed to hopefully fill in the blanks left by the original release. Here’s the schedule and the features, per the game’s producer Sean Ramjagsingh:
Create a custom offline tournament bracket with up to 16 teams from any of the 12 leagues in the game. Play or simulate each game and track player and team stats throughout the tournament.
Be A Pro – Coach Feedback
Get the coach’s feedback while you are on the bench. The coach will give you tips on how to stay on top of your game and grade you on your play.
3 Stars of the Game
At the end of the game, see the three stars and their high level stats. Will apply to every game mode.
Hockey Ultimate Team
Several content updates, including:
- Changed layout and navigation in HUT store
- New animations for player items
Improved edit lines screen to better identify players that are injured or require contract extensions
Online Team Play
Online multiplayer mode where every player on the ice can be human controlled.
For the first time in the NHL franchise, you will be put on the clock and feel the pressure like real NHL GM’s. You will now only have 3 minutes to make a draft pick. If the pressure is too much, you can also call timeouts to extend the amount of time you have to make a draft pick or potentially negotiate a trade. You can make trades at any time during the draft. The CPU will also propose trades to each other and the user throughout the draft.
As always your feedback is fundamental to how we make NHL better and better, so we will also be looking to what you want to see implemented in the game. Stay tuned to this blog post for additional updates and updated timing details.
Those additions will certainly help, but it doesn’t completely fill the void. There’s also the issue of putting out an unfinished product and hoping that consumers will jump on board while the title is being brought up to speed.
That could potentially turn gamers off entirely.
Nicholas Goss of NESN has an interesting way of looking at a potential purchase of NHL 15. He rated the game a seven out of 10 and offered this statement to summarize: “If you enjoy the occasional game against the AI or playing with a friend, NHL 15 is worth $60. If you’re looking for an in-depth hockey game and plenty of online modes/options, wait until next year.”
The graphics and solid game play are enough for me and some other gamers to get by until next year, but most of us would be lying if we said the experience doesn’t feel a bit empty.
Follow Brian Mazique aka FranchisePlay, the Sports Video Game Journalist.