EA Sports will step back onto the virtual ice this week with NHL 16, the company’s long-awaited addition to the celebrated franchise. Following its debut on newer-generation systems last year, this year’s version boasts a number of improvements, including more online league options, superior looking visuals and the debut of a new on-ice visual trainer to help you nail down the essentials of mastering hockey plays, both offensively and defensively.
With this in mind, make sure you master the following modes and features to become a superior NHL player.
The On-Ice Visual Trainer
The first thing you’ll notice is the On-Ice Visual Trainer. These prompts appear as you play, notifying you of little things to help improve your performance. This includes nailing down the timing of winning face-offs (right before the puck drops), mastering pass techniques and eventually becoming a better shot on goal.
Passing and shooting is essential, as you’ll see lines that appear on the ground. With passing, for instance, you’ll see the nearest teammate to pass the puck to, while with shooting, a rainbow-like grid will appear, indicating the best shot to take in terms of direction. If you see a solid blue line appear on the left hand side of the rainbow, you’ll want to take your shot to the left, as that part of the goal is likely open. It’s not always a guaranteed scoring success, but it’ll give you a better idea of what kind of shots to take.
In addition to practicing On-Ice Skills, you also receive grades at the end of each period, letting you know where you’re performing well and what areas need work. This includes a breakdown in a number of categories, such as Goals, Defense and Team Play, as well as notes indicating where you can do better.
On-Ice Skills were divided into three categories – Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. Beginner is pretty basic stuff, but it’s with intermediate and Expert where you start learning a thing or two about hockey, such as Saucer Passes and Dekes, as well as perfecting check techniques so you can get the puck back. It’s up to you when you want to move up a level, so make sure you master the skills in your current ranking first. You’ll know you’re starting to get better when the prompts begin to disappear.
It’s a Team Effort
When it comes to playing with friends, NHL 16 has plenty to offer, no matter what kind of game you’re getting into. The 6 vs. 6 Online Team Play mode is awesome, letting players jump into the role of everyone, including the goalies.
When you first get started in this mode, it helps to get acquainted with players so you can develop a good strategy when it comes to shooting and defense. If you’re all over the place letting the puck fly like crazy, chances are you won’t fare well, especially if the other squad has a much stronger team in place.
Remember, winning as a team is everything. Communicate and make sure you’re on the even playing field when it comes to setting up shots (like one timers or distant passes), and also keep an eye for potential breakaways on the other side, so you can prepare your goalie for a quick shot coming your way.
Then we have Online Couch Co-Op. In it, you simply play together with a squad and perfect your skills. A few rounds of these and you’ll understand each other’s rhythm, and eventually be ready for the rewards that await in the EA Sports Hockey League.
Achieve a Balance in Be a GM and Be a Pro
Managing a team is one thing – managing a successful team is another entirely. With the Be a GM mode, it’ll be up to you to find a proper balance with your squad, making sure players work for each other instead of against.
There are a number of situations where you’ll have to make sure the team is properly adjusted, whether it’s with someone’s trade demand (because they’re not meshing with the team), developing strong relationships with players or making adjustments with the roster when it comes to optimizing overall performance.
Sometimes a player isn’t a good fit, and trading him may be the best decision. In this case, make sure to weigh the offers carefully – ask yourself if a new addition to the squad would be the best thing. Check stats, too – it never hurts to have a hot hand behind the stick for the next game.
Additionally, make sure you call a few team meetings so no one becomes discouraged. The key here is confidence.
Likewise, Be a Pro has its challenges. It may not be as task heavy as Be a GM, but there’s still a lot to do as you perfect your skills and make yourself a better player. This includes unlocking new influence attributes that will make you a greater teammate (as well as a player) with new skills and techniques.
You’ll learn the ropes as you come up from the CHL rookie league. Don’t be discouraged by this lighter side of the NHL career. Instead, embrace it and hone your skills so you can eventually make the shift. Besides, there are some cool teams in the CHL, as well as an avid community you’ll be able to bond with.
Now find out which teams you should pick to dominate the online competition.