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Thoughts on the New NHL 20 Trailer

NHL 20

Thoughts on the New NHL 20 Trailer

First off, how bad did they make NHL 19 look in the NHL 19/NHL 20 comparison part of the video. If there is anyone out there who still doesn’t understand the hardcore NHL gamer’s level of frustration with the series over the last several years, just check out those clips.

That being said, while it was long overdue, NHL 19 finally took some strides forward mainly by improving its skating mechanics. NHL 19 introduced Real Player Motion technology or RPM and NHL 20 looks to double down on that with RPM 2.0. Real Player Motion technology will also move forward by focusing on highlighting the league’s best and most lethal snipers’ signature shots. In addition, EA also spent time adding more realistic shot animations in general, reworked goaltending animations, and (like every year) improved puck pickups.

The latest video is nearly three minutes and shows off some impressive new features. For the first time in years, I will admit this video does have me a little excited to get my hands on the new yearly NHL release. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some question marks and head scratching with the latest NHL 20 gameplay trailer. In this article, I’ll take a deep dive into what I thought was good and bad in the latest NHL 20 trailer. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here:

The Bad

AI

Here we go again.

In watching the trailer, was anyone strictly looking for AI improvements/lack there of? I was definitely on the lookout. While it was tough to get clear looks at the AI, I did find the above screenshot that immediately drove me nuts. Can EA please explain the Dallas defenders’ coverage? As mentioned above, I am impressed with everything EA talked about in the video and I’m looking forward to seeing more. However, a major and constant gripe among NHL gamers for years has been CPU and teammate AI. The game can look great, but if it’s not playing great and imitating the real life product, what’s the point? I don’t think many teams deploy the above D-zone coverage. Well maybe Ottawa. Sorry Ottawa.

Goals Shown In The Trailer

Over the last several years, or maybe even since the series was introduced, every gamer knows a surefire way to score goals is with the use of one timers. Almost every goal in the trailer was scored off of a one timer. It would of been nice to see a bit more variation or creativity of goals being scored to really get gamers excited about NHL 20. I also double down on that sentiment considering the fact that EA has said goalies are now better able to identify scoring threats on the ice. If a goalie knows Ovechkin is over on the half wall waiting for a one timer, it would make sense to show off a goaltender cheating over that way to make a spectacular save. That being said, I recognize that they were highlighting signature shots — and one timers play a role in that feature — so they get a little bit of a pass for now.

The Good

Signature Shooting

From everything I’ve seen so far regarding signature shooting, it all looks awesome. The quick/off-balanced shooting animations look great and are long overdue. Now, while performing dekes you will actually be able to take a quick/real backhand. (Did I mention how horrible the NHL 19 comparison clips were?) EA has stated that there are over 45 new shot animations that are being introduced in NHL 20, which is a nice step in the right direction. However, my only pause for concern would be what kind of shooting animations do the likes of Ryan Reaves and Matt Martin have? Since EA has already informed everyone that only 18 players will have signature shots, what will the rest of the shot animations look like for the good but not great 15-20 goal scorers?

Explosive Transitions

Another major issue for the last several years with this franchise has been puck pickups/transitions. No matter if your skater was heading to the corner to grab a loose pick or your winger was exiting the defensive zone and receiving a pass from the defenseman, you were never able to maintain your speed. EA talks about this in the new video stating “in previous years, players would move into locked animations while attempting to transition.” In the new video, we saw a few transitions that looked beautiful, crisp and like real life. Furthermore, the puck pickup clip featuring the NHL’s bad guy Brad Marchand looked even more beautiful. It was something I have never ever seen in an EA NHL game before. If this new trailer is accurate, this new feature will add so much more to the NHL series and truly has me stoked to finally see some progress to areas that have constantly been a thorn in the side to the EA NHL masses.

Controlled Saves And Redirects

The first example of these new animations/goalie threat analysis, is a clip of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask using his blocker to actually direct the puck to the opposite corner and away from danger. This is a huge addition if it plays out the way EA says it does. Too often in NHL 19, weak shots from the outside would hit the goalie and just sit there in front of him resulting in frustrating rebound tap-in goals. Next, Montreal goaltender Carey Price is shown using his stick to direct a shot from far out out of danger and into the corner. This is awesome. EA also stated that with the addition of goalie threat analysis they added over 450 new save animations.

New Cover System

Goalie covers are also a new feature in NHL 20. Goalies can now resolve covers without having to reset and start again, making them more responsive in the mechanic. Initially, Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has a shot hit him and squeak through his arm, and instead of last year’s game where the goalie would just fall on his back to cover the puck, he actually reaches back to cover the puck. Additionally, EA says goalies can cover the puck with their glove or pin the puck against the side of the net with their stick or blocker.

Final Thoughts

I still have some question marks and pauses for concern when it comes to NHL 20 being strides ahead of NHL 19, but to be honest, I’m actually looking forward to seeing more.

What did everyone notice from the new trailer?

21 Comments

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  1. Can't believe I'm saying this.... I'm actually looking more forward to NHL20 than any of the sports games I play this year. 
    In fairness, I haven't seen details about NBA 2K yet.
    Only some recorded new shooting positions, thats all what I see. I expect nothing special from 20. As I know from now there are not one point of my wished main points in, so will not buy 20. Issue 19 with my some hundred created players will be enough.
    Fiddy
    Devils advocate, the AI issue in the screen. Killing a penalty?

    From the way they are positioned not sure that makes it any more acceptable. Special teams ai in 19 was awful and they have said they did no work on ai for 20. The bad ai really hurt 19.
    Without a doubt the comparison video from 19 to 20 “Looks” infinitely better....that said if it “Looks” great and still “Plays” bad then it’s all worthless. That brings us to two problems.
    One: we won’t know about the gameplay until we get to play them.
    Two: even if it plays good on release doesn’t mean they won’t destroy it with patches like they do every year...
    I know I sure won't be buying it anytime close to release this year.
    Got scorched on NHL 19 and not doing that again.
    Thank you in advance to those of you that buy it and fully try it out for the rest of us.
    jake19ny
    Without a doubt the comparison video from 19 to 20 “Looks” infinitely better....that said if it “Looks” great and still “Plays” bad then it’s all worthless. That brings us to two problems.
    One: we won’t know about the gameplay until we get to play them.
    Two: even if it plays good on release doesn’t mean they won’t destroy it with patches like they do every year...

    I'm so glad they let you choose the tuners for offline slider sets. I haven't looked back from 1.01, it's hands-down the best gameplay imo.
    Well ya,
    the problem with these trailers is that you can make it look like anything you want basically. I made a lot of them :)
    To be honest even using just NHL 19 I can make a "v.s." trailer like this, where it might appears that I'm showcasing the old vs new game and how it works better in the new one.
    So until they show us at least one full unedited match (AI vs AI), it's all just theory.
    And we all know they won't do that, they won't show the actual game.
    Because the actual changes are so subtle, it could not justify the purchase as ridiculously expensive as they selling these updates every year.
    Great article Ryan!
    Agree on all points. The CPU AI and coverage is in the gameplay video we saw with Dallas vs NY was atrocious! Whoever is working on the AI on this game needs to be fired. Seriously. Ridiculous man... Drives me nuts!
    CPU AI and CPU Human AI assistance has been an ongoing problem for years now. Improvements are made in some areas, and in others not so much. My love and interest for the NHL series has dwindled over the years. I can't find myself but feel like I'm playing the same game year in and year out. Does anyone else feel the same way?
    I'm glad they are working the goalie animations and the addition of goalie threat analysis. Hope it works well in the game.
    My expectations are low for NHL 20 after watching this trailer, but let's see how it all works out.
    Means nothing to me without roster sharing, much better AI, and Franchise Mode improvements. The basics in Franchise Mode don't even work correctly. This game is an embarrassment. Might pick up for $20 around Christmas if I'm really bored.
    Rhudey
    From the way they are positioned not sure that makes it any more acceptable. Special teams ai in 19 was awful and they have said they did no work on ai for 20. The bad ai really hurt 19.

    Agreed, but we don't know what lead to the looks of that screen.
    But I'm not saying the AI will be better because it probably won't be. Only way the AI looks decent is when you play position lock vs the CPU.
    mkharsh33
    Don't be fooled - it's nothing more than a game patch. EA will NEVER get hockey realism figured out.

    That's why they need to accept that its an arcade game and market it that way.
    TSN 1050 had the ratings 'guru' from Madden on their station talking about how they rate players and how they're working hard to create more player separation and noticeability in Madden 20.
    He used a WR who runs great routes as an example. This player will have different animations available to him which will help increase his chances of breaking free from a defender because of their ability to run a perfect route.
    His 'dice rolls' will also be heightened compared to other WR's who are average or below average when running routes.
    This will be the case for various skills a WR may possess, such as stiff-arming, one-handed catches, speed, etc. All of those 'skills' will have a wider range of animations available if the player has an above average rating for those abilities.
    He also said that certain players will become 'Locked In' if they achieve specific tasks.
    He used Russell Wilson as an example. Wilson is known for getting big gains on runs. So if you're able to earn more than 10 yards on a scramble or running play three times in a game, he will become 'Locked In' and all his other skills will become heightened. This system will allow the stars of the game to become more noticeable and give them a better chance of taking over the game.
    This sounds very similar to AFL 2K's 'weapon' system.
    I know that we've discussed something similar to this on these boards.
    Why not provide a great passer with a 'thread needle' rating where he's able to complete low-percentage passes more than the average skater?
    Or sniping a goal from a bad angle? Or completing a perfect one-timer?
    Maybe someone is a superior defender making any plays near them near impossible?
    This is the kind of system EA NHL needs to truly provide more separation.
    One last thing the Ratings Dude mentioned was that this year they increased the ceiling and lowered the floor of their ratings scale.
    I forget the exact values he used, so I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially he said that last year the top quarterback wouldn't have more than a 93 for passing accuracy while the lowest wouldn't have anything less than 70 (again, paraphrasing so don't get hunting in Madden '19 to prove me a liar, lol).
    This year, they raised the value from 93 to 97 and lowered the floor from 70 to 65.
    How many times have we begged EA to do this for NHL?
    I know the PA is very powerful in this regard making it impossible to ever see another 1 Overall rated player like Shawn Chambers was in NHL '94.
    Still, if you're forced to use a scale of 80-99, then simply make a greater difference between each numerical value.
    85 should feel a lot different than an 82. Make it like the Richter scale where the increase isn't a perfect incline.
    But adding something like "weapons" would go a long, long way to providing more personality and differential between players.
    All I have to say is that with the next gen consoles 2 or 3 years away, we better see a new game engine and AI for EA NHL hockey. I do not want to see a port of the current gen game at all.
    No excuses EA! Stop being lazy and listen to the comunnity and what they want. At the end of the day we are the ones buying your game. Just look at how 2K sports and NBA 2K has evolved over the years. Arguably the greatest sports video game series ever made. They contiue to make it better and they listen to their fans and the community.
    We need competition for EA to get them in order. Wish 2K Sports brought NHL 2K back for next gen. Now that would be awesome! The more choices the better for consumers. Competition is healthy and it's good for everyone.
    Peter_OS
    All I have to say is that with the next gen consoles 2 or 3 years away, we better see a new game engine and AI for EA NHL hockey. I do not want to see a port of the current gen game at all.
    No excuses EA! Stop being lazy and listen to the comunnity and what they want. At the end of the day we are the ones buying your game. Just look at how 2K sports and NBA 2K has evolved over the years. Arguably the greatest sports video game series ever made. They contiue to make it better and they listen to their fans and the community.
    We need competition for EA to get them in order. Wish 2K Sports brought NHL 2K back for next gen. Now that would be awesome! The more choices the better for consumers. Competition is healthy and it's good for everyone.

    You can tell that the AI was quickly ported over for this gen and then basically never touched again. The AI do the same things, score the same way, and make the same dumb mistakes they have been since NHL 09.

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