The NHL video game series is a phenomenal product that has long been a must-buy for me when each year’s edition is released. Credit is due to EA Sports for continuously finding new features to add reality to the game. Yet, there are still some areas where they’ve fallen short.
Strictly speaking I felt the gameplay in NHL 13 was sluggish. The new skating engine, while based on real-life physics was just a little too slow in some areas and it misses the mark badly in its attempt to create the same skating environment found in NHL arenas. I’m not too worried about the skating and general gameplay faults from this past year; these are things that EA will most certainly tweak heading into NHL 14 and beyond. What I want to see are some more peripheral additions made to the game that not only will improve the game experience, but increase authenticity.
While NHL 14 is probably in the final stages of production, I would love to see some of the items on my wishlist considered for NHL 15 and beyond.
- AHL Roster control: For the love of God allow users to alter the rosters on their AHL affiliates in Be a GM mode. Every year you play Be a GM piles of injuries require a number of roster moves that typically result in your AHL affiliate becoming overloaded with players. Since you can’t send players anywhere beyond the AHL, these rosters end up with roughly 76 players and it just becomes a huge mess. How about EA Sports adds a small little feature that allows the GM to “send” players to the ECHL? They don’t need to include the teams or stats, just simply have a feature that sets the player as an ECHL designation which will lighten the AHL roster significantly.
- Prospect Development: I know EA made sweeping changing to the player development features in this year’s game but I’d like to see a little more. I’ve always felt that drafting players in the game ends up being a complete mystery because of the low ratings the players start with. Perhaps they add some sort of GM control that allows for more monitoring of players who are still in junior and the AHL. This way the Be a GM mode allows for more of a hands on player development of draft picks.
- Get all the jerseys right: As a Sabres fan I see this nearly everytime I turn on the game. The numbers and lettering on the Sabres uniforms aren’t even close to being right and I feel like Buffalo is not the only team to suffer from this issue. This is the pre-eminent NHL video game and you should see an accurate depiction of each team’s look. As a side note, the game continues to have the Sabres wear all blue gloves on the road with their typical navy and gold gloves with their home uniforms (I may be the only person who notices that).
- Update the All Star game: The changes made to the NHL All Star Game were brilliant. The fantasy draft brings far more relevance to a game that few care about. Institute the fantasy draft into the All-Star game feature in the Be a GM and Be a Pro mode. It doesn’t need to be video of each player being picked. Just use the same engine as the Entry Draft and just split the chosen players for the ASG as the teams are picked.
- ASG Part II: In addition to building in a simple Fantasy Draft to the ASG it would be pretty cool to set up a simple rotation of the ASG in different cities. No need to have a new All Star logo but simply allow for each team to host (in Be a GM mode) to add a little more authenticity. Again, this doesn’t seem like something that would be too difficult to create.
- ASG III: One of the coolest features of the 2K series was that they had a Skills Competition feature. In fact, you could play the Skills Competition prior to the All Star game if you felt the desire. EA Sports already has all of the Skill Competition games built in the game (just test equipment in Edit Player), why not put it all together into the Skill Competition? It’s a small feature that most people would likely ignore, but it would not only be an authentic addition, it would make for a great party mode type of addition.
- Winter Classic: EA finally put the Winter Classic into the game for NHL 12 and added to it this season. But why don’t they have Wrigley and The Ralph in there? Why don’t they have the previous Heritage Classic sites in there either? Seems like a pretty simple connection to make. Once the Stadium Series wraps up this season EA could potentially have the template for enough stadium templates to actually run the Winter Classic in the Be a GM and Be a Pro modes if they wanted.
- Goal Masks: A few years back EA obtained the artwork for Rick DiPietro’s mask. This year Marty Brodeur’s actual mask art is used in the game. Why can’t we get the rest of these guy’s artwork? A vast majority of NHLers use Dave Gunnarsson as their artist. Even obtaining a license from him alone would ensure that a major chunk of the league was represented accurately. In fact, the agreement with him could provide an opportunity for him to redesign the “stock” team designs that look like the masks I tried to draw in third grade. This really can’t be as difficult of a task as it would seem. Get someone to work with the major mask artists to come to a licensing agreement so the real masks end up in the game.
- Arena Layout: This is another thing that I notice because I play with the Sabres quite a bit but the benches are on the wrong side of the ice at FNC. This is probably more because of the layout of FNC compared to anywhere else, but it’s still annoying. Another small request, maybe look into the team locker rooms and hallways to add to that portion of the teams walking out to the ice. Oh and get the FNC goal horn right, the one they’re using now isn’t even close.
These are just things that I’ve noticed and wish were added to future editions of the game. If EA wants to hire me as their goal mask art consultant I’d be happy to join the team.