Just released this morning was a slew of information regarding my favorite sport, Ice Hockey. A teaser image was released on twitter on May 3rd that featured the NHL font with a number 15 and some text saying “Monday May 5th 2014” asking fans “Are You Ready?”. Well the time has come and EA Sports has released a teaser trailer for the next game in the NHL series, NHL 15.
In addition to the trailer EA Sports has released some information about the new game including new physics, for players and the puck, new visual upgrades, tweaked controls and the most request feature new commentary. Yep, it just happened.
For the first time, NHL 15 brings real-world physics to every player on the ice. Building on the physics engine that powered NHL 14 with the added power of the next generation consoles every player is subjected to the real-life physics which aims to bring the true feel of NHL hockey to home consoles. This means that net front battles and pileups can happen which adds an element of desperation when the clock is running down.
Arguably, the single most important item in the sport of hockey is the puck. It’s the one singular item that dictates everything and it makes sense that with the power of next gen consoles we would get some upgrades to how the puck reacts on the surface of ice. NHL 15 introduces a completely rebuilt puck physics engine that adds the most realistic touch to an object that has remained unchanged for so many years. The puck will be able to spin, roll, and bounce unlike you’ve seen before in any video game and this adds some unpredictability to puck handling and boardplay.
Visual upgrades were a no-brainer here, with better specs, the next gen consoles will be able to make use of the brand new high fidelity models made specifically to look just like their real life counterparts. Each player is now modeled in layers, the body, equipment, and jersey. This means that each layer can react differently depending on the situation. As you can see in the teaser you see a small amount of wind moving the RedWings jersey. Expect to see more of that with the explosive speed of skaters like Marian Gaborik, Phil Kessel, and Michael Grabner. They are even bringing over the same technology within EA SPORTS UFC to make sure that player likeness is as high as possible. Each player will be just like their real life counterparts when it comes to amount of strides it takes to get to full speed to the emotions on their faces when they score a goal. In NHL 14 we started to see more lifelike arenas, and this trend continues with NHL 15. Each NHL arena is special and has it’s own quirks from the dramatic lighting style of Madison Square Garden, to the huge capacity of the Bell Centre in Montreal each arena will have it’s own unique elements including player entrance tunnels. And what’s a huge stadium without thousands of fans cheering and reacting to the game? Living crowds are a brand new feature brought to NHL 15 that has over 9,000 individual crowd models, that’s 4 times the amount of animations of NHL 14. Fans will be holding up signs with player names on them, others will be wearing costumes as well as seeing groups of rival fans rooting against you. Just like real life, the crowds have different behaviors depending on what has happened in the game ranging from fights, big hits, and scoring goals, the crowd is really coming alive. (This makes me curious to see if the crowds will mirror the experience at the BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers)
It’s been three years since I wrote up a post about some requested features for NHL 12 and it looks like it’s finally happened, the number one item has been fufilled. New Announcers! The old tandem of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement have been in the EA Sports NHL series for 5 years now and they’ve finally been replaced by the NBC Sports commentary team of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick and Eddie Olczyk. In addition to the two new commentators they have also included TSN analyst Ray Ferraro to give ice level game insights. They aim to bring the best real life broadcasting to the consoles with broadcast integration that features real pre-game video commentary with the visuals of NHL 15. This was all possible because of a deal with NBC Sports, so with these new announcers comes better presentation ala the 2K hockey games. This is set to be “the most realistic broadcast package in a video game to-date”.
In addition to all of these new things, the Vision AI has been updated to elevate the level of player intelligence. Players have more ice awareness and are able to read plays realistically, knowing when to be in the right areas on the breakout, or setting up better defensively to zone out the attack.
With all of these additions, NHL 15 looks to be the best Ice Hockey representation in video games to date.
NHL 15 is expected to hit somewhere between September 10th and 20th this year for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One consoles.