Home
OS Scores Explained NHL 17 Overview (Xbox One)
Pros
Excellent array of new & improved modes; Impressive gameplay refinements; Lots of customization features
Cons
Presentation is largely reminiscent of last year; AI/goalie issues persist; Not a huge progression over NHL 16
Bottom Line
NHL 17 delivers with low-key improvements on the ice, while a host of feature-rich game modes offer greater depth than ever before.
8
out of 10
NHL 17 REVIEW

NHL 17 Review (Xbox One)


The transition of EA Sports' NHL series to the current generation of consoles has been a storied tale thus far. We arrive at the third iteration in the cycle with NHL 17, and it finds itself in the fortunate position of being born out of a period of stability. Unlike last year, there are no significant wrongs to be righted, and the outpouring of fan unhappiness stemming back to NHL 15 has all but disappeared. It’s because of this that the shackles of the series have finally been let loose, paving the way for future innovations.

And yet, while NHL 17 is packed with an array of brand-new features and upgrades, it doesn’t feel like a revolutionary moment for the series. Instead, it tinkers with an already successful formula to create a sense of déjà vu, but one that feels more satisfying this time around.

Gameplay

There's a very evident feel of similarity following the first puck drop in a game of NHL 17. Initially, the on-ice gameplay feels largely reminiscent of last year’s title, but subtle nuances gradually start to present themselves as you delve deeper into the experience. Take the skating, for instance. I never felt last year’s skating mechanic felt too "floaty" until NHL 17 came along. The new improvements have left players feeling much weightier in their actions, and the creativity in their movement prevents awkward animations from diluting the flow of each attack. In general, the game ends up playing out in a tighter and more realistic way than before.

There are plenty of other great refinements, too. Stick checking is much more effective as a defensive tool this year. The physics-based puck mechanics appear to have been fine-tuned as well, culminating in more realistically unpredictable situations. New animations go a long way towards solving last year's pick pickup issues, and refinements to puck control mean the puck doesn't glue to your stick as often as it did in the past, which is great in an offline setting and slightly chaotic in an online one.

NHL 17's gameplay isn't without its share of brand-new additions. Net battles have finally made a resurgence, and they're a little more subdued than you might expect. You won't personally engage with the mechanic too regularly in generic play (although the AI will), but it's the type of thing that Be A Pro and EASHL players will soon learn to master.

Goalies are generally improved, but they're not without fault. Their new-found intelligence allows them to make some legitimately incredible saves that you wouldn't have seen in NHL 16, and they're also much better at covering their angles and dealing with one-on-ones. However, fluke goals continue to slip past them with varying regularity, and instances of bizarre decision making occasionally leave you feeling infuriated with their actions.

Key improvements have been made to enhance the game's AI in every area of the ice, and 90-95 percent of the time, its decision making and creative abilities are gloriously realistic in nature. Unfortunately, that missing 5-10 percent is a result of certain issues persisting on a semi-regular basis, such as getting stuck behind the net, becoming confused under pressure and generally failing to assist in the way you want them to. These instances are becoming more rare on a year-by-year basis, but they haven't reached the point of extinction just yet.

All of these factors lead to the game feeling somewhat fragmented every so often. In general, the award-winning gameplay of years gone by takes precedence, meshing with this year's refinements to create a thrilling on-ice experience -- the best it has ever been. Yet, when the rare smattering of downsides kick in, the frustration does too. It didn't feel so bad last year, but another 12 months has added a stale and all-too-familiar quality to these occasional mishaps.

As always, this year's game can be easily customized to your needs via a substantial number of gameplay sliders. There have been many additions to this department in NHL 17, allowing you to craft a more tailored gameplay experience than ever before. It's also important to note that while NHL veterans will likely scoff at the idea of the On-Ice Trainer 2.0, it's hard to do anything but sing its praises. For even the most skilled player, it has been adapted to provide a more unobtrusive tool of assistance that genuinely provides helpful hints and tips along the way.

Presentation


The presentation aspects of NHL 17 have taken a backseat for the most part. The previous two iterations introduced some key elements that brought the series up to date in this area, but a lot of untapped potential had also been left on the table. That potential hasn't yet been realized. Based on presentation alone, you might just feel like you’re playing the same game you’ve been playing for the past 12 months.

That's not to say the presentation is generally unimpressive or completely devoid of new features. The real-life crossover intros are still present, as are team-specific elements and authentic TV broadcast packages, and they're just as effective as they were last year. The crowd has been noticeably juiced up in the audio department, while Doc and Eddie have recorded new lines in the broadcast booth to add a bit of variety to their musings. You'll find some welcome additions scattered throughout the game, but the majority of content feels very "samey" by this point. It's just a bit too familiar, and most of the excitement wore off a long time ago.

Also, the sense of immersion you get is very similar whether you're playing franchise mode or the World Cup of Hockey. The camera angles are the same, the perceived size of the arena is the same, and despite some minor differences, almost everything about the broadcast is the same. More variety is needed to differentiate between arenas, leagues and modes that should drastically affect the overall feel of each contest.

Based on visuals alone, the game still looks excellent. Arenas are stunning, crowd models are wonderfully diverse,and incredible detail has gone into even the most inconspicuous of visual elements. The players themselves are detailed and reminiscent of their real-life counterparts, but close-up shots reveal some awkward animation transitions, particularly when they're reacting to something. It's all very similar to last year.

In terms of the menu layouts, there have been some key changes. Everything feels cleaner and a little more responsive, although Ultimate Team menus are still very slow in comparison to everything else. The endless, looping audio from past years has also been replaced by a soundtrack of tunes that won't drive you quite as insane.

Game Modes


With NHL 17, EA Sports has provided some welcome depth across its selection of game modes. I'll start with franchise mode, which is a somewhat re-imagined version of the Be A GM mode that was featured in recent years. This year, you're given the ability to take control of all the backroom dealings, from changing the prices of Alexander Edler replica shirts to upgrading the executive seats in your arena. Don’t want to get that in-depth? That’s fine, you can tinker with a variety of options before you get started, striking a nice balance for both casual and veteran players to craft the experience they want to achieve.

Throughout the season, you’re given a list of goals to adhere to by the team’s owner. They're realistic, and they give you a lot to aim towards over the course of a year. Financial responsibilities play a much bigger part than ever before, and the amount of money you set out to make is determined by a number of factors including the state of your arena, your management of promotional nights, and of course, your performance on the ice. There's a lot to wrap your head around, but the well-designed menus make this an easy task.

Relocation is also a brand-new option in franchise mode this year. Once your offer for relocation is accepted, a list of potential locations is made available. Negotiations are then followed by the ability to craft a new identity for the team via extensive customization options. Your first game will draw comments from the announcing duo about the historic nature of the contest, which is a nice touch. EA has done a fantastic job in making this feature as enticing as it sounds on paper.

World Cup of Hockey makes its debut in NHL 17, and it delivers up to a point. The new lines of exclusive commentary are a welcome addition, and there are some other neat presentation elements in the mix. But there aren’t any real differences in the way games play out, and the biggest downside is that the cup victory sequence is the same old Stanley Cup celebration we’ve been used to for years now –- just without the cup.

The ability to go it alone in Be A Pro mode has taken a slight backseat, but improvements have been made. The most notable of these is that your player will now be given more attention when they hit certain milestones. Special moments like scoring a debut goal will result in a unique cutscene featuring an entire team celebration at the bench. You’ll actually find these scenes dotted around the entire game, but in Be A Pro they serve to make you feel slightly more immersed in your role.

Once you venture online, there's plenty to sink your teeth into. EASHL is back once more, and it delivers a huge set of customization tools this year. Players are required to gain XP to unlock them, providing a genuinely enticing reason to progress. New player classes add depth to the amount of gameplay styles on offer and enhanced matchmaking tools make the drop-in experience a much more streamlined process. It’s also a relief to see the old system of grinding XP hasn’t made a return. Player skill takes precedence over in-game upgrades, and that’s definitely a good thing.

Hockey Ultimate Team has arguably undergone the biggest overhaul of all. The first major difference is that the Chemistry system of old has been replaced by something called Synergy. It's a little strange to get your head around at first, but it ultimately aims to provide you with fewer restrictions and more creativity.

Dynamic HUT Sets is a superb feature, ramping up the collection aspect of Ultimate Team to a whole new level. You’re given lucrative incentives for completing collections as you go, and it's a more prominent, varied and all-encompassing way of doing things than we've seen in previous years. It's sure to possess enough longevity to keep Ultimate Team at the forefront of many NHL players' minds all year.

The new Draft Champions mode is also heavily incorporated into Ultimate Team. With it, you’re given the ability to undergo a mini fantasy draft, drafting a team of players to take into a four-game spell. You can take them online or offline, and you'll be rewarded based on how well you do. It's more than just a side attraction; you can cleverly trade in your rewards via the Dynamic HUT Sets feature once you're done.

Customization

Customization plays a big part in this year’s game. Recent iterations of the series have been largely devoid of customization features, but this year looks to change all that with improvements across the board. You’ll find that most of them come into play when delving into either EASHL or franchise mode’s relocation feature. As mentioned earlier, EASHL customization tools must be unlocked over time through progression, and there’s so much good stuff on offer that you’ll genuinely be eager to unlock it.

We’ll start with the downsides, though. Player customization isn’t all that great. You have to start with a base of preset faces, and although you can get quite creative with the amount of cosmetic enhancements on display, you can’t quite create your own tailored hockey star. You can, however, equip them with one of many new celebrations on offer. They’re quite out there, including sequences like The Worm and The Dab, and you’re sure to be spammed with them in online contests before long.

Team creation brings back a lot of the features it incorporated a few years ago. You can finally create your own jerseys again, and there are a bunch of preset logos you can use to kit them out. The logo system isn't all that comprehensive -- you can't create lavish designs or import images -- but it’s still a worthy addition.

By far, the most exciting aspect of customization is the arena creator tool. There’s a lot to tinker with, including goal songs, seat colors, scoreboard sizes and even the actual design of the arena layout itself. There’s nothing quite like scoring a goal in your multi-colored arena to the sound of Adam Rose's WWE theme and fire blasting out of the scoreboard.

...What...just me?!


Final Thoughts

NHL 17 finds itself on the verge of feeling too similar to its predecessor at times, and there's scope for improvement in a handful of areas. That said, this is still an impressive, smartly designed hockey game. Its variety of subtle refinements present a more authentic gameplay experience than ever before, and improved game modes and customization content offer some much needed substance to the overall package. Ultimately, the game's large number of enticing qualities should prove more than enough to keep most players satisfied over the next 12 months.


NHL 17 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Quentin32 @ 09/10/16 02:04 PM
What the bleep!!!! This game crept up out of nowhere to me. I don't remember 2k madden Fifa & nhl being this close to each other. I guess 2k f'd everything up by that early release
 
# 2 Retropyro @ 09/10/16 02:30 PM
I'll wait until it hits the Vault around May. Be A GM Online needs to be brought back before I drop a dime on NHL again.
 
# 3 buck135 @ 09/10/16 02:58 PM
On YouTube the Bruins goal horn is correct, but the music is absent. This wasn't an issue last year. Does anyone know if or why it isn't there?
 
# 4 mike24forever @ 09/10/16 04:29 PM
This plays a great game of hockey. Loose pucks, sloppy play, errant passes, etc. I'm happy with the on ice improvements.
 
# 5 Sparkles @ 09/10/16 06:26 PM
Their marketing team is pretty absent for this release. No hype whatsoever
 
# 6 franch1se @ 09/10/16 06:50 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buck135
On YouTube the Bruins goal horn is correct, but the music is absent. This wasn't an issue last year. Does anyone know if or why it isn't there?
Seems to be the case for many teams. I play as The Kings and its the same. Correct goal horn, but no song.
 
# 7 slickdtc @ 09/10/16 07:22 PM
Appreciate the review.

I blew through a season of NHL 16 when I got a PS4 in February, but by the summer the game's flaws were too much to enjoy the game which was a lot of fun the majority of the time.

What I thought the problem was was the lack of full slider customization. I couldn't really open it up as much as I wanted to. I was hoping that the slider adjustments this year would allow me to have a true arcade feel when I wanted that and then switch it up and slow it down when I wanted a more authentic experience.

Sounds like some of the same bang-your-head against the wall moments still occur, which sucks to hear. I know no game can be perfect, so I'm hoping I'll be able to mitigate them with settings sliders and options.

I'm thinking I'll rent this game from Redbox and binge play it for a week or two, then decide whether to buy it outright or sit out another season. Unfortunately, no review can really make that distinction for you besides first hand experience. But it's good to know what to expect going in.
 
# 8 buck135 @ 09/10/16 07:57 PM
So EA removes the iconic music from each team which is a great part of the hockey experience and they stick garbage songs throughout the menu screens. Terrific.
 
# 9 Millennium @ 09/10/16 08:17 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buck135
So EA removes the iconic music from each team which is a great part of the hockey experience and they stick garbage songs throughout the menu screens. Terrific.
Goal songs are there - seems to be a bug for certain teams.
 
# 10 OliDegu2008 @ 09/10/16 08:48 PM
I think I will pass this year given the review. Not that I was expecting anything revolutionary but was looking for a little more.
 
# 11 MizzouRah @ 09/10/16 10:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millennium
Goal songs are there - seems to be a bug for certain teams.
Yeah.. bug.. the Blues have their song.
 
# 12 Fraser G. @ 09/11/16 04:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by slickdtc
Appreciate the review.

I blew through a season of NHL 16 when I got a PS4 in February, but by the summer the game's flaws were too much to enjoy the game which was a lot of fun the majority of the time.

What I thought the problem was was the lack of full slider customization. I couldn't really open it up as much as I wanted to. I was hoping that the slider adjustments this year would allow me to have a true arcade feel when I wanted that and then switch it up and slow it down when I wanted a more authentic experience.

Sounds like some of the same bang-your-head against the wall moments still occur, which sucks to hear. I know no game can be perfect, so I'm hoping I'll be able to mitigate them with settings sliders and options.

I'm thinking I'll rent this game from Redbox and binge play it for a week or two, then decide whether to buy it outright or sit out another season. Unfortunately, no review can really make that distinction for you besides first hand experience. But it's good to know what to expect going in.
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

In regards to your comment about sliders, I'd say this year's game is definitely worth checking out on that basis. If it was your biggest concern with last year's game, you'll be pleasantly surprised at some of the new additions. They've put considerable work into this area.

Whether you can create the exact feel you're hoping to achieve is something only you can determine, however.
 
# 13 BaylorBearBryant @ 09/11/16 07:19 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike24forever
This plays a great game of hockey. Loose pucks, sloppy play, errant passes, etc. I'm happy with the on ice improvements.
Agreed. There might not be as many bells and whistles, but the game plays great this year.
 
# 14 kariya05 @ 09/11/16 11:19 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike24forever
This plays a great game of hockey. Loose pucks, sloppy play, errant passes, etc. I'm happy with the on ice improvements.
NHL 16 already had way too much of that. Played like a beer league hockey game. Setting up plays and scoring chances should be what I'm trying to accomplish, not a cross ice pass.
 
# 15 Pikesburgh @ 09/11/16 12:09 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kariya05
NHL 16 already had way too much of that. Played like a beer league hockey game. Setting up plays and scoring chances should be what I'm trying to accomplish, not a cross ice pass.
That's how real hockey plays though. There's constantly loose pucks going into corners, bouncing pucks that jump over the stick, free for alls in front of the net, hockey really is a sloppy game along the boards and in front of the net. But, thanks to these sliders, you can make magnetic puck control if that's what you prefer. You can make a wild, choppy, physical game if you want. Extremely low scoring with lots of shots, it seems to give you the ability to do anything you want.

To me that's why it's worth buying. I plan on creating the 2000 style of hockey. Big hits, bit of a low scoring game (2-1, 3-2 type games), lots of scrums in the corner and in front of the net over loose pucks. Gonna edit down the 4th liners as well so there's a higher difference between player skill.
 
# 16 snc237 @ 09/11/16 05:39 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kariya05
NHL 16 already had way too much of that. Played like a beer league hockey game. Setting up plays and scoring chances should be what I'm trying to accomplish, not a cross ice pass.
Maybe if your more casual of a player. As for I a persons that puts in about 400 games online across the game modes I love when it's more sloppy. Once you get use to the game, and face top ranked people in the world everything is tape to to tape and more so automatic.
 
# 17 cuoreceltico @ 09/12/16 05:28 AM
The story of this series, the most exciting game became the most ignored game...end of the story
 
# 18 Millennium @ 09/12/16 06:26 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuoreceltico
The story of this series, the most exciting game became the most ignored game...end of the story
Doesn't seem like a story, seems like one line that doesn't make a ton of sense.

Care to elaborate a bit so we understand your point of view?
 
# 19 buck135 @ 09/12/16 08:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millennium
Doesn't seem like a story, seems like one line that doesn't make a ton of sense.

Care to elaborate a bit so we understand your point of view?
The NHL series used to be great, especially on the PS2. The gameplay has been terrible on the current gen until, according to the reviews, this year. Madden, Fifa, MLB the Show and NBA 2K all improve every year. EA puts no money into this game. Getting roster updates is almost impossible yet Madden has new lines of dialogue implemented every week. They are only adding features each year that have been there before and selling them as new.

This may sound trivial to most of you, but the removal of the team specific music this year (they were all in the game last year) really bums me out. I'm still picking the game up tomorrow since the reviews are good, but my expectations aren't as high as I'd like.
 
# 20 Bleak5170 @ 09/12/16 10:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buck135
The NHL series used to be great, especially on the PS2. The gameplay has been terrible on the current gen until, according to the reviews, this year. Madden, Fifa, MLB the Show and NBA 2K all improve every year. EA puts no money into this game. Getting roster updates is almost impossible yet Madden has new lines of dialogue implemented every week. They are only adding features each year that have been there before and selling them as new.

This may sound trivial to most of you, but the removal of the team specific music this year (they were all in the game last year) really bums me out. I'm still picking the game up tomorrow since the reviews are good, but my expectations aren't as high as I'd like.
Ugh so true. The roster updates in the NHL series are terrible. It's no secret that EA spends a lot less on this series than they do the others, (and it's understandable when you compare sales numbers). I almost feel sorry for the NHL devs considering what they're given to work with.

I'm holding off on the game this year because it really seems like you don't need it if you have 16. I want to be "wowed" when playing an NHL game like I am when I pop in NBA 2K.
 

« Previous12Next »

Post A Comment
Only OS members can post comments
Please login or register to post a comment.