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NHL 16 Complaints
This year’s NHL from EA Sports is overall a fun game with great graphics and a lot of enjoyable game modes. However, there are some flaws that can drive the player insane, which I feel should be addressed. The following article is my list of issues with the game. Feel free to comment if you feel I’ve left something out.
Passes are a huge part of any hockey game. It is hard to score if you can’t transfer the puck to a team mate, unless you plan on skating coast-to-coast and deking your way to a goal. That being said, I think the passing problems in this game may be one of the biggest piss-offs.
A large percentage of my pass attempts end in a loss of possession. I understand that interceptions happen, and not all passes are going to end up where I was hoping they would. The thing I don’t understand is why in the Hell my players send the puck directly to the opponents stick, even when they’re several feet away from the player I intended to pass to. This may be understandable if it happened with farm team players, but I find it happening even with players who have a passing rating of ninety or higher.
Another outcome of a lot of my passes is the annoying icing call. I’ll see a forward wide-open for a breakaway, get excited, press “R2” and watch as the puck slides right past him, while he makes no attempt to receive the puck. The next thing I know I’m taking a defensive-zone face-off and giving the opponent a scoring opportunity. In a somewhat similar situation, I will watch the puck slide past a wide-open player and directly to another player who is further down the ice. This would be great except for the fact that this further player is almost never open in any way, and almost immediately gives possession to the defending team. In an attempt to fix this problem, I sometimes hold down the “R2” button, and take my time trying to ensure the puck goes where I intend it to. This almost always results in my pass being too hard, and ricocheting off my team mate’s stick. These problems alone cause me to limit the amount of passes I attempt each game, taking a lot of fun out of the game. I’d like to try some tic-tac-toe plays a little more often but can’t.
I’m aware that I could solve this next problem by using the “skill stick,” I just don’t think it should be necessary. I will grab the puck in my defensive end, usually in the corner. Their forward will be charging towards me and I will try to send the puck up to my winger near the blueline, before being knocked off the puck. Even with seconds to spare, my defense acts like he’s had one too many concussions, and tries passing the puck through their forward, rather than pivoting even ten degrees to the right or extending his stick a few inches further. I firmly believe that EA should incorporate some type of player awareness into their programming to prevent this.
Using the standard camera mode prevents the user from seeing the far side of the rink. This makes sending a cross-ice pass a 50-50 chance of being successful. You have no idea if your far winger is open or not. With all of these passing issues aside, there is one more issue I have occasionally that is even more infuriating. Every few games I will find myself getting excited as I look up ice and see my winger cherry-picking near their blueline with no one defending him. This is a sure breakaway, I think to myself. I send the puck up to him, thinking about what kind of deke to pull on their goalie. The puck is just a few feet from connecting with his stick. And the mother fucker hops over the boards for a god damn line change. Boom, here comes another icing call. And on a final note, what happened to between-the-legs drop passes?
The shooting is actually not so bad, I have a lot less complaints about the shooting compared to other components of the game, such as the passing. The only thing about the shooting that really gets on my nerves is the one-timers, which technically could also be considered a passing issue. I don’t attempt the one-timer very often, in my opinion it’s just too easy to score. I’m sure we all remember the old NHL 95 where scoring was as simple as tossing the puck out front, ripping a one-timer, and celebrating your 35th goal of the game. If I happen to try a one-timer though, most of the time something goes wrong.
The first problem with one-timers is that sometimes, there simply isn’t one. I’ll send the pass from my left defense, to my right defense, along the blueline and press the right stick forward expecting a quick snipe. And instead my right d-man holds on the puck and freezes up like he doesn’t know what to do with it.
The second problem is the delayed one-timer. I send a pass in front of the net and prepare the one-timer, only to have the pass poked away into the corner. Rather than give up on the scoring attempt, and try to retrieve the puck, my forward slides into the corner, stick raised behind him like a statue, and tries the one timer from the corner once reaching the puck, sending his shot directly into the side of the net. “A” for effort, but not exactly a good strategy.
If the puck does make it to its destination, and I have the opportunity to one-time it home, my players do some really stupid things. For example, if the receiving player is right-handed, and is taking a pass from his left, he acts like he’s impatient and tries a backhanded shot. He can’t wait the extra half a second and shoot forehanded? I suppose a backhand shot isn’t that big of a deal, considering the other shot they consider an option. I don’t know why this type of shot is incorporated into the gameplay, because I have never once seen a live human-being try to shoot a puck this way. I call it the shovel shot. With their stick directly in front of himself, he simply pushes the puck forward like he’s pushing snow off a frozen pond. They try this shot on breakaways as well. Where’s the down-on-one knee snap shot?
EA also needs to incorporate some type of wraparound that doesn’t require perfect timing using the skill stick. If you attempt a shot from the right area behind / beside the net, your player should automatically perform a wraparound if you ask me.
The only other problem I have with the shooting this year is the empty net shots. I can have a wide open player take a shot from inside the opponent’s blueline and aim directly in the center of the net, and still watch the puck go two feet wide. The second the goalie leaves the net my players shooting accuracy drops from ninety-five to fifteen apparently.
I’ll be the first to say that I’d love the skill stick and the wide variety of “loose-puck dekes.” If they worked. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong but almost every time I try an “L1” deke, the puck ends up on the stick of their defenseman. This isn’t with John Scott either, this is players like Johnny Hockey, who have puck handling and deking ratings higher than 90. The windmill usually works, and I love how simple they’ve made the toe-drag, but anything fancy such as a through-the-legs play, the puck is turned over and I look like an idiot. Why tease us with these amazing moves if they never allow you to get passed their defense?
AI Player Positioning:
Apparently the guys at EA think hockey players are terrible at positioning. Have you ever watched a live game and witnessed players skate directly into their team mates several times in one game, or stay directly in front of the puck carrier, slowing him down? I would just send the puck a foot forward and let him have it, except the terrible passing doesn’t allow short passes. Trying to send the puck less than five feet forward results in a turnover nine times out of ten. Besides that, they’re constantly going offside and refusing to get open for a pass out front. These players have a high offensive awareness rating, so I assume that the ratings in this game are just made up BS. These issues are minor compared to my next point.
I’m noticing a trend here, and I want to say that ninety percent of the issues I have are somehow related to the passing aspect. Anyways, here’s my main problem with the AI player positioning. You’re coming in on a two-on-one situation. You know you have the defenseman beat with a quick little side-to-side deke. The goalie is down, and he left the far side of the net wide open. You prepare for an easy goal. You tap “R2” and watch the puck slide across the crease. And the mother fucker skates right past the net, allowing the puck to slide behind him and into the corner as the chasing defenseman come in and pick it up. Why wouldn’t he stop before the net and wait?! If I was a coach he would be playing for the farm team for the rest of the season. Maybe that’s what Drouin did to piss off the staff in Tampa Bay.
I don’t have a lot of issues with the checking. I don’t have many problems with overall defense aspect of the game. Stick checking is extremely effective, as well as pass or shot blocks. Stick lifts are a great way to find yourself in the penalty box for a slash or high-stick penalty. It’s actually really easy to defend even the best offensive teams.
There are some things that I miss though. It’s not really a big deal but whatever happened to the hip-check? I used to love watching my defense destroy their star winger with a nasty hip check when I was down a few goals. Another thing I enjoyed in previous versions of NHL was the broken glass. Apparently the glass got a lot stronger because no matter how hard you try to send someone through the glass, you simply can’t. Perhaps the only thing more enjoyable than shattered glass was fucking someone’s day up by flipping them into their bench. Can’t do that anymore either, *sigh*.
Simply put, goaltender ratings mean about as much as a Burger King employee’s diploma. I was using John Gibson as my starter who had an impressive 91 Overall rating. That goof couldn’t stop a beach ball shot by a toddler. He faced a maximum of 15 shots per game, and still managed to earn himself a 3.2 GAA and 8.48 Save Percentage. Not exactly the stats I was expecting from him. These were wrist shots from just inside the blueline, with no traffic in front of him. I traded him to Montreal and by the next time we faced him he had decided to get his shit together. I’m not sure if the coach in Montreal beats his goalies for allowing a goal, or what he fed him, but damn. He was making saves that not even Ripley’s would believe. In general, the ratings don’t mean anything; if they play for you they’ll shit the bed, no matter what.
There are just a few more things I didn’t feel deserved their own category. One; Way too often I get “tied-up” on the face-off. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this, and your wingers almost never come in to help. Two; I love the new feature which allows you to deke right off the draw and hop over their stick, sending your center down the ice for a hopeful breakaway provided he’s fast enough. This would be amazing if it worked a little more often. You could attempt it with the most talented center in the league and end up losing every face-off in a game without succeeding once. Three; Pressing "R2" to switch players while defending is a guessing game of which player you'll be controlling next, and it's almost never the player you'd prefer. Four; when the puck stops right up against the side of the net, your defenseman refuse to retrieve it. Those assholes will skate by it four or five times and still not pick it up like it’s going to bite them. Five; in a similar situation, after a heavy hit on the puck carrier, your big dumbass defenseman forgets to take the puck as it slides along the boards. I thought the purpose of checking someone was to steal the puck, but hey I could be wrong.
GM mode has always been my favourite part of any NHL game. This year they decided to take away the option to upgrade things such as your pro scout and your team’s medical staff. I kind of liked being able to improve my scouting capabilities and injury prevention but I guess I can put on my big boy pants and get over that. There should, however, be a way to refrain from having an injured player every other game. I find this only happens when simulating games, but there are way too many injuries. And it’s never your fourth line winger either; it’s always one of your leading point scorers. Connor McDavid has been injured and will return January 4th. I replace him and shuffle my lines, only to have him come back three games later. I put him back in the lineup and shuffle my lines once again. Two games after that, my next best player sustains an injury and I have to do the same thing all over again. Christ EA, at least give me the option to feed them milk or something!
The only thing more annoying than the constant injuries and line shuffling is the new morale feature. The best part of GM Mode is that you can make ridiculous trades that would never fly in real situations. In previous years, trading away your starting goalie and a few first-round draft picks to get Jonathan Quick wouldn’t have been a problem. Now the second you trade away a veteran player half the team is whining about how “you shouldn’t have traded him,” and losing locker room chemistry or asking to be traded. It’s like dealing with a bunch of toddlers who skipped nap time.
There is no longer an option to create your own team. That’s my issue. I liked getting creative and designing jerseys, and creating ridiculous teams such as the Bangladesh Blades. At least I can still change my goalies pads though.
Despite my many complaints I actually enjoy playing NHL 16. Maybe it’s because I know there’s no better alternative, but it is still fun to score some goals with your favourite players. When my passes connect, my dekes are successful, and my wrist shots find their way into the net, I often find myself saving replays to watch later and annoy my buddies with. Props to PS4 for making the replay saving so fast and simple by the way. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading my complaints, and if someone from EA Studios is reading this, get your shit together for next year! Comment below with your thoughts about this article or any remarks on the game. Thanks for reading.