NHL 18 Preview: Three’s Company. Our colleagues had the chance to check out NHL 18 with the new visceral Threes mode.
One common point of criticism for many sports games is that people think there is little improved upon or implemented with each yearly release, and that the series can sometimes even diminish over time. This was exemplified with EA’s NHL series a couple years ago, as when it went to the (then) next-gen consoles with NHL 15, some classic features were stripped away or simplified, angering many. Luckily, over the last few years, EA Canada has slowly been rebuilding the franchise, and got it back to a feature-full state with last year’s entry, so the series finally has the space to expand and evolve with this year’s installment, NHL 18.
I recently got the chance to go hands on with the game at an EA Sports event, and while it did feel quite similar to NHL 17 at first, the brand new “Threes” mode brings new content to NHL 18 that I am sure I will sink a ton of time into when it releases on both PS4 and Xbox One next month.
The first time one boots up NHL 18, they are brought to a special menu. This menu flaunts the game’s revamped Training Mode. NHL 18’s Training Mode is super in-depth, as it both teaches players how to do simple things like passing or shooting, and more advanced new mechanics such as offensive dekes and a better defensive skill stick. When playing, I used the Hybrid control scheme, as I liked to have the option to use both buttons and the sticks when I needed to.
In addition to the simple gameplay sections, Training Mode also features videos made through a partnership with Hockey Canada, allowing players to see actual hockey players pull off all of the moves. This tutorial was super informative, and while I was already familiar with most of the game’s mechanics, I could see it being of great use to new players.
Afterwards, I went and played a Stanley Cup match between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins. During this match, I did see that the AI was slightly smarter, and there were a few more things I could do with my hockey stick, but it did feel pretty samey for the most part. There have not been any radical changes to the base gameplay, but the series didn’t really need that as the current controls are very tight and responsive.
Once I finished the match, I moved on to the main menu which displayed all the game’s different modes; I could even put my favorites in a “Quick Menu” for easy access. After playing a couple more matches and spending a bit of time with series’ staple modes, all of which still work well, I delved into this game’s new mode: Threes. I was really curious to see how basing entire games around having only threes players, less penalties, and a more arcadey feel overall would fair for NHL 18; fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed by what I played.
Read the full preview on DualShockers.com