NHL 18 is all about the new game features, and there are two that stand out to me, that make the game more enjoyable, one from a “gameplay” standpoint, and the other is “technical”.
Threes is a 3v3 game, leading to a really fast paced game. No offsides or icings, and the only puck drops happen at the start of a period.
Penalties lead to penalty shots and play stoppages (goals, puck out of play, goalie holding on) lead to the opposing team getting the puck at center ice.
The games are played in “backyard rinks” in barns and other venues, and the gameplay reflects that. The announcers are laid back guys, not stiff broadcasters, and the players on the ice aren’t limited to current and former NHLers…there are mascots strapping on skates and bowling over players.
Game limits are either three periods (of 2-4 minutes a piece) or first to a goal number.
This is determined by a coin flip before the game, and the winner gets to set the rules.
And just like street rules, you can set it to “have to win by two goals” or to turn on/off the Money Puck.
The Money Puck is another tweak that makes the game feel more like an arcade mode.
There are three types of pucks in play for this game: Regular, Positive, and Negative.
Regular = 1 Point
Positive = 2 or 3 Points
Negative = 1 Point and the other team loses 1 or 2 Points
I’ve been hooked on this mode all week, trying to play my way across the country, and pick up better players, logos, jerseys, and arenas along the way.
The NHL added a team this year, and with it came a fascinating expansion draft (from a strategic perspective), and EA has given us the ability to draft ourselves.
You can expand to the 31 teams of this year, or even go and expand to 32 teams.
If you are the expansion team, you choose one player off each roster, piecing together a makeshift team, with the hopes of putting together some chemistry and a winning lineup.
If you are one of the current 30 teams you face the opposite challenge: Protecting your players from getting stolen away, and hoping that the right unprotected ones aren’t snatched away.
Gameplay and Final Thoughts
They have added new cameras in the audience, which adds a nice “realistic” touch to the broadcast. This includes more shots of random fans, and as faceoffs are about to drop you’ll get the camera shot from the stands zooming into the action at hand. These cameras also play nicely on replays.
Where Madden 18 had super long load times, this game is lightning fast. You hit start and the bar quickly fills up to launch your game.
All these things put together keep the steady pace that the NHL series has set in recent years, and it’ll get a 9 out of 10.