With NHL 19 just a few short months away, there’s a handful of gameplay fixes we need to see for this entry to help restore the series to its former glory.
From speed to AI, here are five changes to the gameplay for NHL 19.
In the last few years, the game of hockey has shifted from an emphasis on checking and tough defense to a more polished game focused on speed and skill. Much of this is due to the young talent that has entered the league via the top of the NHL draft with players like Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, and Patrick Laine just to name a few. Rasmus Dahlin is no exception in this year’s entry draft. Additionally, the final teams remaining in each of the past few Stanley Cup Finals have all had a common theme: speed (see the Penguins, Capitals, Predators, Golden Knights, etc.).
NHL 19 needs to find that sense of explosive speed. Not every team plays this way, that’s for certain. Generally, it means they lack the talent to do so (see the Sabres, Canadiens, Coyotes, etc.). Those teams have a common ground: the bottom of the NHL standings. Regardless, the majority of teams, notably those most successful, have a mix of blazing speed and skill throughout most of their lineups. It comes down to one central focus for NHL 19: pace. The pace of the gameplay needs to be much faster, regardless of the teams that are on the ice. Faster tempo, more exhilarating gameplay. In short, more Golden Knights and less late-1990s New Jersey Devils.
More Balanced Dekes
NHL 18 made great strides with its deking system, even going as far as including it in its training camp tutorial videos. NHL 19 can bring skill to the forefront with a more realistic approach in its deking. The mantra should be this: easy to learn, difficult to master.
I’m not saying every deke needs to be easier. What I am saying is the specific player you are controlling should dictate a given deke more closely. Say we have easy, medium, and difficult level dekes. Essentially, some dekes are simpler and some are harder. If I am flying down the wing with Alex Ovechkin and perfectly time a “difficult” deke, I should be able to execute it. If I am coming up the ice with Nic Deslauriers, I shouldn’t be capable of pulling off anything higher than an “easy” deke. Additionally, certain dekes in NHL 18 just didn’t quite make sense with regards to button mapping on the controller, as gamers had to contort their hands in odd ways. Maybe there’s no answer with limited options, but I would imagine this could be solved by a closer look at what gamers actually have to press or even giving the player a menu option to choose which buttons they want to be included for specific dekes.
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There isn’t a whole lot to improve when it comes to puck physics in NHL 19, as the series has come a long way over the entries in the current generation of consoles. This particular item is more of a “polish up” than a downright fix. We need a bit more consistency with the way the puck moves. Occasionally, the puck will actually gain speed/momentum when sliding or rolling down the ice. Same thing when it hits the boards, but more obvious. EA has done a nice job with this overall, but there’s always room for improvement.
The all mighty poke check was revamped in NHL 18, but it still needs to be tamed a bit for NHL 19. The defensive skill stick is a great addition to the arsenal of options you have as a player without the puck. However, it shouldn’t be so easy to knock the puck off of the opposing player’s stick. Giving the puck possessing player a better ability to defend the puck could be an option, but toning down the likelihood that a puck will be knocked off a player’s stick when being poke checked is ideal.
AI Goalie Adaptation
Throughout the years, the famed “garbage goal” has plagued the NHL video games franchises (not limited to EA’s). With the exclusive NHL game being published by EA annually and thus no competition, there’s little change to the gameplay in each subsequent release. Alas, garbage goals are picked up quickly at launch by casual and hardcore gamers alike.
In essence, a “garbage goal” is a goal scored that is deemed to either be a “glitch goal” or an unrealistic goal. It’s a workaround that works the majority of the time and takes away from the game’s realism. Easier said than done, but what if a goaltender began picking up on trends? What if they were able to read the pending play based on player movement and trajectory? How cool would it be to see a player score a garbage goal, then get denied by the goalie next time they tried to make the same play? It’s a system that would have to be worked out a bit, but it would go hand in hand with some of the improvements that have been made to the defensive AI in NHL 18. Allowing goalies to adapt to a system like this would make for a better online experience, particularly in Head-to-Head competitive matches.
What gameplay elements would you like to see improved? We want to hear from you and your list, leave us a comment below.
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