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NHL 11 News Post

It's not hard to find out about all the awards the NHL series has won over the years. (And if you do happen to forget, the folks working on NHL will be quick to remind you of the number.) But those awards were rightfully earned, so I can live with the borderline gloating. I can also live with it because the EA NHL series epitomizes the proper way to iterate a yearly sports franchise.

At E3 I was able to check out some of the new gameplay things going on in NHL 11, which includes the new quick moves, broken sticks, checking system and faceoff system.

I want to start with the checking because it ties into the development team's focus on the physics engine this year. During my time with the game, I saw a ton of different checks. I witnessed brutal open-ice checks where the player slid along the ice after being decimated. I saw some checks along the boards where the puck carrier was hit but only his head banged off the boards as he fell. I saw some checks that were more nudges between two friends than heated rivals. I even saw a check where the initiator of the check bounced off its target -- call that one the Chara special. The point is there is a ton of variety to the checks this year, and you will not just see the same 5-10 check animations anymore.

And seeing a lot more dynamic checks adds a lot to the game in terms of "Oh Snap!" or "Wow" moments, but the checking system also needs some tuning. At this point, I'm seeing too many big hits or hits that are not quite lining up with the momentum of the two players. The biggest issue in this area seems to be the amount of "big hits" that occur. In a game of hockey, you really will not see many checks where a player is knocked to the ice. Now, while I don't expect to witness just a a couple checks a game where a player falls down, I do think there should be more instances where players are simply muscled off the puck rather than destroyed. To put it more simply, when the players are not really going near full speed, the ensuing check should not lead to a person landing on his butt. This checking system is still being tuned, and player size, checking attribute, momentum, etc. are all tying into these checks, so the idea is sound.

The new quick moves look good and are attempting to strike a balance between adding depth while not overwhelming users. You initiate these moves with the left bumper and then a quick flick of the right stick. My favorite new move is the ability to hop over flailing corpses as they try to slide in front of you -- nothing is more frustrating then losing the puck as you try to go around a defender who is sprawled out on the ice. It's easy to pull off, and the only concern is how easily you will be able to pull off the move.

Another cool move to avoid the poke check is another quick flick of the right stick while holding the left bumper to move the puck off your skate. It's a nifty move and, again, the only question is how easily these moves will be pulled off.

I witnessed the breaking of a stick while playing, and it was just fun to watch how the non-stick-having player went about his business. He can call for a stick, go to the bench and grab a stick or even be given a stick by one of the wingers or center out on the ice with him. He can even bypass the stick altogether and just try to play defense without one. The broken stick is also an in-play element out on the ice. If that broken stick is around the crease, it is not out of the question for a puck to go off that busted stick and into the net or at the very least disrupt a cross-crease pass. The broken sticks really just add to the organic nature of gameplay that NHL 11 is really trying to hit on this year.

As someone who has never played organized hockey, it is somewhat hard for me to understand the intricacies of the faceoff, but even so, I can understand the amount of depth to the faceoff system this year. The controls are pretty basic in terms of controls since it is all on the right stick. You can move the stick left or right, or even press up on the right stick at the right moment to knock away the opposing center's stick. But it's the scenarios that can be dreamed up that really make the new faceoff system interesting. If you are bad at faceoffs, you can simply try to battle the guy in the circle to a standstill so a winger can quickly come in and try to get the puck. In the same situation, maybe you battle the guy to a standstill because you want the winger on the right who has a wicked left-handed wrister to swoop in and skate across the slot and flick a shot into the top shelf. This is just one scenario that has many outcomes, but it makes me excited to think about the possible set plays and scenarios. Oh, I also have to mention that you can even shoot right off the faceoff if you time things right.

I don't want to go on too much longer, but let me just point out a few more things in bullet fashion:

-There seems to be less "suction" to the board play.

-There have been some tweaks to goalie animations -- should not see so many big rebounds on soft wristers and vice versa on hard slappers. In addition, it looks like the goalie handles the puck differently behind the net. As someone who has played hundreds and hundreds of OTP games in net, the first part especially excites me.

-There are now user-controlled goal celebrations.

Let me end with a final story from my time playing the game that sums up the focus on creating a "new" gameplay experience for NHL 11. While battling it out against a developer -- yes, I did win in OT after I gave up the tying goal with 2 seconds left in regulation -- a situation arose where a shot from the point was taken. As the shot was fired, cover athlete Jonathan Toews came across in front of the net and deflected the shot with his stick between his legs. His deflection pushed the puck just wide, but the animation tied with the sudden holy-crap-that-was-close-and-unexpected nature of the play was great to see after the deflection goals were nearly non-existent in NHL 10. That's just one moment, but it's indicative of the type of small moments I frequently witnessed during just a short amount of time with the game.

Game: NHL 11Reader Score: 7.5/10 - Vote Now
Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360Votes for game: 36 - View All
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Member Comments
# 1 b3organ @ 06/16/10 02:27 AM
 
# 2 Redshirt_EA @ 06/16/10 02:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by b3organ
One note is that what they are showing at E3 has the hitting amped up because they want to make sure people see the new physics on the players. There will still be game styles so you can play with exaggerated or realistic hitting and the online settings will be much more towards the realistic end of the spectrum than what Chase saw.
 
# 3 The Visualizer @ 06/16/10 03:08 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redshirt_EA
One note is that what they are showing at E3 has the hitting amped up because they want to make sure people see the new physics on the players. There will still be game styles so you can play with exaggerated or realistic hitting and the online settings will be much more towards the realistic end of the spectrum than what Chase saw.
Good to hear about the hitting

What about the success rate of the jumping deke on online/realistic settings. Specifically wondering if unskilled puck handlers are going to be able to use it? IMHO, jumping as well as the other right bumper 1-on-1 dekes and spinoramas that have been in the game the past few years shouldn't even be available to attempted by these players.
 
# 4 UwantRadie @ 06/16/10 03:51 AM
This game is looking good, as we all knew it would.

Cant wait to get my hands on it. Hopefully I will be greeted by a new menu... Has any game kept the same menu for so long Are they superstitious or something?

I think the fact that a simple deflection got Chase a little worked up speaks volumes for how good this is starting to look.

EA's NHL Series is the best thing to happen to hockey since the Rangers won the Cup in '94!
 
# 5 tabulaRasa @ 06/16/10 03:52 AM
How is the boardplay? Last year it was insane suction, and online it was supercheese with the selfboarding suction and suction when being boarded. Speed should be relevant when "boarding" yourself. And proximity should be more relevant when boarding someone, and their speed. If someone comes flying by at full speed it should be harder to board, especially if they have great balance and muscular.
 
# 6 boritter @ 06/16/10 04:03 AM
I cannot wait to play NHL11. Based on their track record I believe they will find the right balance between massive checks and subtly knocking someone off the puck.
 
# 7 UwantRadie @ 06/16/10 04:45 AM
It should be noted (as it was in a thread) the this build at E3 is running with the hits amped up more then they will be in final release. They did this on purpose to really highlight the physics engine.

Someone here on OS said they saw about 8 hours of the game and didnt see the same hit twice... and that is with the hits amped up? Nice.
 
# 8 Randiesel75 @ 06/16/10 06:49 AM
Excellent write-up, well done Chase.
 
# 9 Mikey88 @ 06/16/10 07:47 AM
Sounds like things are shaping up well! Thank you Chase!
 
# 10 slickdtc @ 06/16/10 07:57 AM
I'm loving the news about broken sticks and the situations they create. Really cool how they didn't just add in broken sticks, but did it right by allowing you to get a new one, take a teammate's, roll without one and push the puck with glove or skates, and have that broken stick impact the actual play on the ice. Which, much to my father's chagrin, happens too often in the NHL [he always complains that the linesmen always leave broken sticks out on the ice even as play moves away from where the stick is].

I'm coming from NHL 2k10 to NHL 11 this fall, and the news about the game feeling more organic with more deflections and more realistic tuning of goalie rebounds and whatnot is great. I love that it seems anything can happen when I'm playing 2k10, and I've heard around that NHL 10 can feel a bit robotic/scripted at times. Anything to make the game feel more natural, more realistic is good by me. I'm very excited to delve into the EA NHL series after a long time away from their product.
 
# 11 Qb @ 06/16/10 09:01 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redshirt_EA
One note is that what they are showing at E3 has the hitting amped up because they want to make sure people see the new physics on the players. There will still be game styles so you can play with exaggerated or realistic hitting and the online settings will be much more towards the realistic end of the spectrum than what Chase saw.
The Legend returns!

EDIT: Forgot to mention that we were able to play the game with the hitting toned down on the second day build if we switched the game style. I saw many more glancing hits/collisions and fewer "big hits", and best of all, the damn stumble animation that prevented you from doing anything with the puck is gone!
 
# 12 sroz39 @ 06/16/10 09:02 AM
Since I am about a 90% EASHL player and 10% offline, I'm all for whatever combination of hitting, poke checking etc. will reward the defence for playing sound positional hockey. The last couple of years, if a guy put his Puck Control somewhere in the 90's, it was next to impossible to take it off of them and you'd often see sticks go through the puck or even limbs go through the puck. If it means the hitting is a bit ramped up online (see: NHL 09) I'm all for it.

Once the game is fully physics based, I'm sure alot of these problems will disappear. Until then, reward solid defence online. I can make the experience as realistic offline as I please with sliders. It's online I'm concerned about.

In all honesty, I trust this dev team more than any other out there to make this game better every year. They are truly awesome. Everyone complains about this, that and the other but I know personally, from September to March, I've played the NHL game the last two years exclusively in that timeframe, which is pretty remarkable when you consider all the great games that come out in that time.

Thanks for the impressions, Chase.
 
# 13 PBlast @ 06/16/10 09:34 AM
Can't even handle my excitement for this.
 
# 14 bh446066 @ 06/16/10 11:40 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redshirt_EA
One note is that what they are showing at E3 has the hitting amped up because they want to make sure people see the new physics on the players. There will still be game styles so you can play with exaggerated or realistic hitting and the online settings will be much more towards the realistic end of the spectrum than what Chase saw.
You just made my day, but probably not why you think. I LOVE big hitting, and I'll be one of the few here that will have the game "amped up" as you say when I play it.
 
# 15 UwantRadie @ 06/16/10 01:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bama83
Defencemen in this game are expected/rewarded for playing like linebackers rather than sound positional hockey.
WOW! I couldnt have worded it better!

Word is bond!
 
# 16 blinkfan77 @ 06/16/10 05:19 PM
Hmm, I get TONS of deflection goals in NHL 10. All it takes is a good lane to the net and good timing to hit your teammate in front. I get one at least once every 2 games or so.
 
# 17 stlstudios189 @ 06/16/10 09:21 PM
getting super pumped
 
# 18 jchibz @ 06/23/10 10:18 PM
not bashing or anything but for a game that's suppose to be light years ahead of it's competition seems to be just implementing things like faceoffs and a little physics, been in 2k for years now. That deking controls sound awfully similar to 2k also where as you press Lb and flick the stick. but I do love the broken sticks idea. To be honest they should have focused more on defensive controls and cpu ai. You can't play d without contantly poke checking and hitting
 
# 19 onlybygrace @ 06/24/10 12:54 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jchibz
not bashing or anything but for a game that's suppose to be light years ahead of it's competition seems to be just implementing things like faceoffs and a little physics, been in 2k for years now. That deking controls sound awfully similar to 2k also where as you press Lb and flick the stick. but I do love the broken sticks idea. To be honest they should have focused more on defensive controls and cpu ai. You can't play d without contantly poke checking and hitting
Well...maybe it'll really cream your pants then to find out apparently that 2K11 will also have broken sticks this year.

So...look...2K has everything wrapped up here basically...oh yeah...

except for the fact that they have no game for the 75 percent of us who have no Wii.
 
# 20 speels @ 06/24/10 11:39 AM
I agree with all above, the thing that bothers me is the talk of "well 2K had this 2 years ago, why didn't EA" because really it doesn't matter. No one cares that 2K had faceoffs in 2 years ago, EA has them in now and that is all that matters. Stating the above is not a critique, its just a bitch about how you are upset with NHL.

As for NHL 11, I am getting very excited and look forward to hearing more about it. The franchise things sucks, but I can deal with that if the gameplay is close to real life.
 

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