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NHL 18 Beta Impressions: Threes A Positive, Defensive Gameplay Improvements

NHL 18

NHL 18 Beta Impressions: Threes A Positive, Defensive Gameplay Improvements

Yesterday, the NHL 18 beta dropped and we’ve finally gotten our chance to play what the newest edition is going to be offering up. You’ve already thrown in some impressions, but now its our turn. Check out the staff impressions of the beta below…

Joel Smith

The NHL 18 beta came out yesterday and it seems like everyone is eager to get their hands on a code. Every year I say NHL “feels better” but the game becomes stale and some old ghosts come back to light.

After playing for roughly three hours, I can say, without prejudice, that so far this feels like one of the best NHL titles to come out in terms of being vastly improved from the previous year. I’m always highly critical and have no problem lambasting an effort that is underwhelming. The beta plays so, so smoothly. Gameplay is slowed down a bit, and I think that actually lends well to the game. You quickly notice the improved AI right from the first drop of the puck, both on offense and defense. Lining up a hit to quickly get undressed by the CPU was insulting, infuriating…and extremely refreshing. Puck cycling played out well and the new passing availability was nice.

” The couple drop-in games I played were quite fun and all players actually played well without anybody trying to be a hero…”

Threes is SO MUCH FUN. My first game officially was an offline Threes match against the CPU that I won by a hair. The action was intense and exciting. Playing an online game of Threes against another player was smooth with virtually no lag at all. Matchmaking happened in moments, and loading times were also quite quick; load times across the various modes were quite quick in general. I can definitely see Threes being a favorite for players that are having buddies over for a game session, or even pairing up with your friends online.

EASHL Threes was also quite interesting. The couple drop-in games I played were quite fun and all players actually played well without anybody trying to be a hero (one of my gripes from past EASHL drop-in experiences).

The ONLY issue I have so far is the defensive skill stick; I find it to be too overpowered. I love the addition of it and how it allows you to play defense, but poke checks being successful at such a high rate doesn’t fly for me. Hopefully that’ll get looked at and addressed for final release.

All in all, the NHL 18 beta so far is a sweet piece of work, and better than I expected.

Kevin Scott

Having played a lot of NHL 17 last year, the hope with the NHL 18 beta was that the gameplay would be so significantly improved that you couldn’t help but notice immediately. Instead, I was initially struck by how familiar it all felt, as if EA hadn’t really done much work on this year’s game at all.

But as I played a game of EASHL, I slowly started to realize that while there might not be any monumental changes that jump out at you, there has been a lot of subtle fine tuning that makes for a much smoother game of hockey.

“I’m happy to report that defense has seen a lot of improvements”

As someone who likes to play on defense and takes pride in not taking too many chances in jumping up into rushes or pinching in at the blue line, I’m happy to report that defense has seen a lot of improvements. The defensive skill stick allows for far more control, and it’s now much easier to block passing lanes and break up plays in your own end. Also, the movements of your player don’t feel quite as clunky as they did last year, where the controls weren’t responsive enough and you’d often found yourself slightly out of position because of it.

I haven’t had nearly enough time yet with the beta to form too many definitive conclusions, but for now it seems like it’s not the overhaul some people wanted but has at least shored up some of the glaring issues that continued to frustrate last year.

Fraser Gilbert

In my limited time with the NHL 18 beta thus far, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played. Defense has seen some particularly noteworthy enhancements, with the defensive skill stick and subtle AI improvements making for a more satisfying on-ice experience.

That said, it gives off an ‘NHL 17.5’ feel in many areas. Presentation is the biggest culprit, sporting many of the same cutscenes, commentary lines, overlays and more. Minor additions aside, the beta’s in-game presentation is almost identical to that of NHL 17, which itself felt reminiscent of NHL 16 and 15.

“That said, it gives off an ‘NHL 17.5’ feel in many areas.”

Elsewhere, I’m impressed with both the visually appealing menus and greater range of ways to play. NHL Threes is particularly fun, emulating the appeal of 2009’s 3 on 3 NHL Arcade to an impressive extent. However, while I recognize its potential, I also fear for its ability to retain its appeal in twelve months’ time.

Ultimately, the NHL 18 beta plays a better game of hockey than ever. But it also feels a little ‘been there, done that’ at times. I don’t dislike it – NHL 18 is shaping up to be a good game – I just crave something a little fresher, particularly in terms of in-game presentation.

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Discussion
  1. Thanks guys!
    Wow very disappointed with the lack of any in-game presentation improvements.
    If this indeed feels like NHL 17.5 like Fraser noted, I don't know how a company like EA can get away with charging us full price for this game.
    Times like this where I wish we had some competition.
    Peter_OS
    Thanks guys!
    Wow very disappointed with the lack of any in-game presentation improvements.
    If this indeed feels like NHL 17.5 like Fraser noted, I don't know how a company like EA can get away with charging us full price for this game.
    Times like this where I wish we had some competition.

    i'm VERY disappointed with the presentation. STILL since NHL 14, NO 5 man goal celebrations! I have not noticed even ONE new line of commentary in the beta. Sure they added some new camera angles before the faceoffs and goal replays(which sometimes are not the best angles and it is tough to see the goal), but unless they are holding back a lot of presentation stuff which I doubt, the presentation is severely lacking.
    Any other game, FIFA or Madden, would be getting destroyed if they did this year after year. It is completely unacceptable.
    Peter_OS
    If this indeed feels like NHL 17.5 like Fraser noted, I don't know how a company like EA can get away with charging us full price for this game.

    NHL 06 - 09 on PS2 / XBOX / PC
    NHL 14 - Legacy on PS3 / 360
    I think on current consoles, it's the first year that is not as big. 16 was a step up because 15 was missing so much content.
    17 was a step up for the sliders and the fact that you lose the puck and stumble if you skate into the boards (atleast with proper sliders in offline mode).
    As a competitive NHL player (ranked constantly in the top 50 since  09) the game does feel like NHL 17.5 which isn't a bad thing. NHL 17 was in my opinion fantastic and NHL 18 shores up a lot of those issues that were really annoying last year. However presentation looks identical for the most part, and if you got bored of NHL 17 you will probably get bored here as well as the game more less feels he same. To someone like me the smallest tweaks are very noticeable and appreciated, to someone that plays casually once in a while you probably will be wondering what they changed?
    More presentation would be nice but personally, I could care less about the presentation if the game doesn't play right. NHL 17 was a decent game and needed some tweaks for sure and they've done some. NHL 17.5? Who cares if the game play is improved. They added decent content with the 3v3 eashl, threes arcade and I'm sure lots of hut stuff. I'm enjoying the beta a whole lot. I'm actually excited for the release although I would imagine that they will screw it up when they start patching. God I hope not
    Sent from my SM-G935W8 using Tapatalk
    I thought threes was going to be some dumb gimmick mode but so far its been a blast to play. I had a match last night last almost 20 mins and was a ton of fun
    This is the same old ignorant AI as in years past. Some very minor improvements (which have been touted as MAJOR improvements by EA), but the AI still does dumb crap every single minute of every single game. I've played a week's worth of 1on1 versus games and my AI teammates make no attempt to play the puck when on defense. I have to take control of them to make any effort to play the pusk. It will just slide right by them and they stand there. EA... spend a year's worth of effort addressing your idiotic AI players to make this a decent hockey game. EASHL is a great mode but it has become obvious to players like me over the years that you are relying on the all-human control to sell this game instead of spending brain cells on making this game smart. This will be the first year I will not buy the NHL game. It's just NHL 17.25 in my view.
    Hard to judge the improvements because I am an offline player and can only play full game online. That said, I feel like the game plays so much better than last year. I have been a very long time critic of this game so I think that is saying alot. I understand the criticisms from others, and some are valid...like the lack of new presentation and AI still not where it needs to be. But the gameplay has definitely improved. Game still needs some tweaks but hopefully nothing that takes away from the base AI this year.
    I must say, after playing a game as goalie with the settings turned all the way up. I'm very impressed with the 3v3 AI. I would assume 6v6/5v5 would be the same. If I wasn't so into PC gaming right now i would be all over NHL18 beta right now. I do find the people who hate the AI are the ones who are out of position and tappers. This looks like it will finally be a good game this year. ONLINE and offline.
    Its NHL 15 v4. Very little has changed. The core of the game hasnt changed at all. Game still rewards selfish play over actual hockey. Game still has a massive problem with consistency. 3v3 EASHL is ok when you dont have a full team, except for when you play vs kids who just rag the puck for 10 minutes at a time like that takes some sort of skill. Id almost suggest some kind of shot clock for 3v3.
    knich
    Hard to judge the improvements because I am an offline player and can only play full game online. That said, I feel like the game plays so much better than last year. I have been a very long time critic of this game so I think that is saying alot. I understand the criticisms from others, and some are valid...like the lack of new presentation and AI still not where it needs to be. But the gameplay has definitely improved. Game still needs some tweaks but hopefully nothing that takes away from the base AI this year.

    That's encouraging to hear. Since it's the only hockey game, I can bite my tongue and deal with the lack of anything new with presentation... as long as the AI has been improved and player separation is noticeable, I might be on board.
    MizzouRah
    That's encouraging to hear. Since it's the only hockey game, I can bite my tongue and deal with the lack of anything new with presentation... as long as the AI has been improved and player separation is noticeable, I might be on board.

    I can say player separation is as apparent as it has ever been in the series, and the AI is improved. This is not to say the AI is genius, or where we'd want it to be, but it's not as generic and its decision is slightly more dynamic. In terms of user team AI they are much better at staying out of the way and try to generally set up in triangles and situate themselves in a decent posture to keep the puck moving to the next man or taking a shot rather than immediately isolating the puck to the boards when it's not necessary.
    bad_philanthropy
    I can say player separation is as apparent as it has ever been in the series, and the AI is improved. This is not to say the AI is genius, or where we'd want it to be, but it's not as generic and its decision is slightly more dynamic. In terms of user team AI they are much better at staying out of the way and try to generally set up in triangles and situate themselves in a decent posture to keep the puck moving to the next man or taking a shot rather than immediately isolating the puck to the boards when it's not necessary.

    Thanks bp, sounds encouraging!
    MizzouRah
    Thanks bp, sounds encouraging!

    I'll be honest......if they improve the AI just slightly, but include mid-season contract extensions, smarter re-evaluation of CPU rosters and roster moves, smarter CPU FA signings, more robust trading deadline, and the capability to sim half a game-play the last half-and have the W/L properly given in stats to the goalie.......then EA has my money this year!
    I just finished a year where the trade deadline had 2 trades (both mine), and last off season I watched Boston (who had Bobrovsky), sign Korposalo for 4 years, only to be outdone this year by signing Matt Murray for 3 years. So now, Boston has THREE Elite goalies, signed for 3+ years each. And on their trade block.......Brad Marchant (no goalie).
    Meanwhile I really hate it, that EA is absolutely NOT able to change the whole presentation, so that not always for one action (goal scenes, ending game scenes, pre game scenes, line changes scenes, goalie changes scenes), only one cutscene is following.
    Year after year, always the same ONE CUT SCENEs.
    Nobody changed this CUT SCENE SYSTEM, so that they are able to show many different cut scenes for one action, from different camera angles.
    After three years, they change two or three cutscenes into other, and we have for the next 3 years again so monotone and boaring and always the same cut scenes.
    This aera is so awful computer programmed like, that it meanwhile hurts to watch it. I wonder if the DEVs are playing their Masterpieces.
    There is absolutely no real life feeling, absolutely not!
    If I only think of the after game scene, where the skaters skate to the goalie, and the one guy behind the goalie opens his mouth and laughs.
    To bring this scene GAME AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME, AFTER GAME a.s.o.:zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz:
    ...is in my eyes a shame, resp. a so primitive and boaring "idea" that I could puke, when I only think of this one scene! :zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz:
    Never mind all the other boaring cut scenes! :brickwall:brickwall:brickwall:brickwall:brickwall
    And the biggest impudence is, that they meanwhile keep the price the whole year through, on the same high level as the starting price, quite in contrast to their creativity level.
    Sorry, after meanwhile for 23 years buying and playing this always the same game, this had to be! :(
    This aera has nearly no Creativity in it, no will to make this game really interesting, human like, resp. really interesting for their customers resp. users.

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