NHL 18 has introduced a new arcade mode called Threes into their game this year. This mode may not be for everyone, but it’s a fun break from the other modes — franchise, EASHL, HUT — and I’d challenge anyone who claims the mode isn’t fun, even if it’s not for them.
The mode was also not an afterthought as there’s many ways to play including offline exhibition, a traditional online game, or you can even play co-op with a friend in any of the modes. There’s also a Circuit Campaign Mode that, while different from MLB The Show’s Conquest mode, will have some similarities as you battle across the country in attempt to dominate each circuit.
Threes is arcade gameplay through and through, and I really like that they even added new smaller rinks, and a courtside announcer who announces the gameplay similar to something you’d hear at Rucker Park. Even the scoring in this mode is arcadey, and it provides for some very unique ways to play.
It’s Hockey, But Not, But…Is?
At the start of every game is a coin toss. The winner of the coin toss gets to set the rules for that game, such as “win by 2” and whether to use “Moneypucks” which are goals that can sometimes count as 2 or 3, referred to as “Fire Pucks” or even “Ice Pucks” that are negative goals for your opponent. Players will also have the choice to play using traditional periods, or to play up to a particular score. I did find it odd, however, that when playing up to a particular score, there are still periods. I understood later that the reason for this is that during intermissions is the only time you are allowed to make substitutions — line changes, more or less. This is the reason why the periods may also seem to be very short when you first play.
While I like this approach to line changes, I also have never seen much need to switch my approach — I always use the same three players from the start. Perhaps in a future iteration of this mode, there will be some incentive to make more changes.
Also adding to the arcade atmosphere is that there are no offsides being called, no icing, and the only penalties you’ll see being called will result in a penalty shot. There is also only one faceoff per period that comes at the very start of the period. From there, it’s “losers out” after being scored on, and “winners out” for when a goalie smothers the puck.
Circuit Campaign A Fun Way to Play
In Circuit Campaign Mode, you’ll start off with a pretty bad team, but similar to older games like NBA Street, you’ll have the option of adding players and even jerseys and logos from the teams that you beat. This mode is described by EA Sports as having “many surprises,” but one such example is the ability to unlock and play against (and eventually as your teammate) a team’s mascot. As ridiculous as this sounds — and it is — it’s funny, and was one of the rare times my fiance looked up from what she was working on to take notice with a “what is that?!” With a game like NHL 18 having to appeal to different levels and ages of hockey fan, details like this are a nice touch.
Perhaps best of all, the mode plays really well, and you can even play a version of Threes in EASHL, but this time it’ll be on the full-size rink. I actually enjoy playing Threes more in EASHL as it’s completely wide open and very fun on offense, and will really hone your skills while playing defense.
Threes = A Lot of Fun
Overall, Threes is a great place to work on your offensive flair, and a way to play NHL 18 without having to worry about online exploits, sliders and having a perfect game of hockey. At the very least, it’s a perfect time filler for when you might not have enough time for a full game of franchise or HUT, but it also has enough depth in its Circuit Campaign Mode, including the rewards you’ll earn, to keep people coming back to finish the mode in its entirety.