Friday, April 12, 2013

14 things I'd like to see in NHL 14

Today EA Canada gave the first hints of the next installment in their long-running hockey franchise, with the first details to be released on Monday. With that in mind, here's a list of my fourteen most-wanted features for NHL 14. The theme I keep coming back to is making it a truly global game, looking to EA's own FIFA soccer series for inspiration.
  1. The Kontinental Hockey League. If EA wants to include all the best players in the world, they need to pony up the cash for the KHL license. One of my favorite things about EA's FIFA is that it includes almost every top league in the world. NHL 13 respectably includes the Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Swiss, and German hockey leagues, but at this point they can't keep denying the second-best league on the planet. Russia's Kontinental Hockey League now boasts teams in seven different countries all over Eastern Europe, with rumored future expansion even into Italy. Most of the best non-NHL players in the world play in the KHL. Why keep stalling, EA?

  2. The Olympics! With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics right around the corner, it seems there's no better time to revamp NHL's international teams. EA probably can't wrestle the rights to the Olympics from Sega, but they could at least get the rights from the International Ice Hockey Federation to use real international uniforms and real IIHF World Championships. I'd love to see international play incorporated into every mode of the game, much like it is in EA's FIFA.

  3. College hockey. The Frozen Four is going on right now in Pittsburgh. Why can't I play this in videogame form? The 60-team major junior Canadian Hockey League was added in NHL 11, and it'd be nice to have the U.S. equivalent. Like in EA's college football franchise, NCAA rules would probably prohibit real player names from being used, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for college hockey in NHL.

  4. The ECHL, the third tier of North American professional hockey. NHL already includes the second-tier American Hockey League, and the ECHL would complete the NHL's three-tier farm system pyramid.

  5. The Slovak Extraliga, the other major European hockey league not included in NHL 13.

  6. Why are my top five requests all more teams and leagues? So the game can have a deeper career system. All these league and team additions would make career modes in NHL that much more dynamic, whether in "Be a Pro" or in "Be a GM" mode. Once again, just look at how EA does it with FIFA.

  7. The correct number of on-ice officials. Real-life NHL games feature two referees and two linesmen, but the NHL series has long featured... one referee. And that's it. Would it be that hard to add three more officials?

  8. I'd also like to see the on-ice officials made "live" in NHL 14. In 13, the ref is a ghost that players and pucks alike can go right through uninterrupted. But in real life, sometimes the puck will inadvertently bounce off the official and change the flow of play. FIFA already does this, so why can't NHL?

  9. A revamped single-player franchise mode. The focus in recent years has been on the EA Sports Hockey League and online play, but for someone who just wants to sit down and play a "campaign," NHL 13 is pretty mundane. It's really just... a series of games. And even if you lift the Stanley Cup, it's just one short mediocre cutscene followed by... another series of games.

  10. A revamped standard online mode. While everyone is all about teaming up with other people and playing six-a-side matchups online, often I just want to play simple one-on-one matchups online. The only depth in NHL 13's standard online mode is a leveling system. Can't there be a bit more to it?

  11. A revamped interface and menu system. It's far too wonky to get to game modes and make quick roster changes in the game.

  12. Improved "NHL Moments". NHL 13 tried recreating situations where the player has to play a highlight from the real-life NHL season, but it always boils down to either "score a bunch of goals" or "don't allow any goals." It's a great idea that's been poorly executed, and it'd be nice to see more dynamic, specific situations in NHL Moments. Speaking of NHL Moments,

  13. Better historic teams. Right now players can replay "historic" NHL Moments, but because there aren't really any historic teams in the game, the player will play as Wayne Gretzky with the 2013 Oilers, or Mario Lemieux with the 2013 Penguins. Can't we get historically accurate teams for these guys to play with?

  14. A better soundtrack. I know I can import my own songs into the game, but it's a huge roundabout process. What we're left with is NHL's completely horrible butt-rock soundtrack every single year. And only a handful of songs. NHL 13 features 16 tracks, which get to be pretty tiresome when you hear them over and over and over and over. FIFA 13, on the other hand, features 50 songs on its soundtrack. I understand hockey isn't as popular as soccer, but can't we get a few more? And not all hockey fans are Nickelback enthusiasts. While FIFA features a wide range of musical genres, NHL has... Thousand Foot Krutch. And Shinedown. And My Darkest Days. Please, please, no more butt-rock.
If I can get at least one of these wishes fulfilled when the first details of NHL 14 are released on Monday, I'll be happy. We'll see.


  1. What I really want out of the new NHL game(s) is correct player tendencies and realistic player attributes. Being a Washington Capitals fan, I watch players like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom play the real game every game, and their virtual counterparts are nothing like them. Alex Ovechkin can be taken down (with a bodycheck) by perhaps 10 players in the entire league, yet his NHL self is just a normal human who can be stifled by someone as slight as Brian Gionta. Nicklas Backstrom is adept at evading defenders and keeping the puck on his stick, yet his NHL self is, again, just a normal player with no special skill.

    There's little the game can do when the player is actively controlling a player (and just about everyone is going to control them in a power forward, I'm-gonna-score-10-goals way), but every other player on the ice should be governed by player tendency, and the "Power Forward," "Defensive Defenseman," and "Dangler" distinctions aren't anywhere near enough.

  2. To be fair, NHL 13 is a lot better about that than the series has been in past years. Bigger players feel bigger, and Ovechkin plays noticeably differently than Eric Fehr. But yeah, I agree it could be differentiated more.

  3. I want the Islanders "Fisherman" jerseys and the capitals "Eagle" Original away blue jersey.... But that's just me....

  4. Dude, Bang On!! I've been making the same points for the last few years and I'm hoping that it isn't gonna take a few more till we at least see the Olympics, a World Junior Tourney or the KHL. Those 3 features alone would improve the game on so many levels let alone if other wished features were included too.