After missing features left a sour note for many upon the release of NHL 15, EA Sports is bringing some key modes back to NHL 16.
That meant giving the popular “EASHL” a test drive this past week via a beta released for Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Here’s the short version for those who see EASHL as a garble of letters: the mode – which stands for EA Sports Hockey League – allows you to play as a single, created player (instead of a team) with other people online. You can be a forward, defenseman or goalie, with a few templates like “sniper” and “power forward” to spice things up.
If you get lucky, 12 humans could be controlling the six individual positions per team in a single game.
Considering the potential there, people were upset that NHL 15 didn’t include the feature, but it appears to be back. So what kind of feedback did this trial run receive? Let’s take a quick look.
Game Informer was pleasantly surprised by how well the artificial intelligence handled things when a full team of human players wasn’t available (which is most common):
These non-player skaters are better than we anticipated. Defenders skillfully patrol the middle of the ice, intercepting passes and denying easy entry to the slot. If you pair a CPU defender with a human, it is smart enough to stay back should the player pinch or join the rush. On offense, we saw a few A.I. players put home juicy rebounds and successfully dislodge the puck from a defender during a forecheck.
This Hockey Writers post praises the customization options:
Even the team you create in NHL 16 is given more uniqueness with the new system. Now Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk have the ability to say the name of your team that is given by you when you create your EASHL team. From standard team names to ridiculous ones you and your friends can get extremely creative when you create your team and team name, while at the same time getting the name recognition on-screen from one of the best announcers in the National Hockey League.
Fansided postulates that NHL 16 is already better than NHL 15, even based on what amounts to a dress rehearsal.
The Vancouver Province’s detailed write-up concludes on a down note for EA Sports:
The problem I have right now with EASHL is that it just wasn’t fun for me. Everything felt like a grueling game of old Minnesota trap hockey, where each game left me drained after it was over, instead of jubilant after having played a game with some friends. It might be an issue of a learning curve, and maybe after more time I will learn to adapt to the new NHL 16 way of life. It’s just adapting to a certain game play doesn’t necessarily guarantee a fun hockey game for me.
The beta is running through August 10, allowing the developers to make some tweaks before the game’s release in about one month. It sounds like there may still be some work to do, although there was plenty of positive feedback, too.