A big perk of being a member of the EA Access program
is that you can get a trial version of some EA games five days before they're released. The first game to get this treatment was Madden NFL 15
and subsequently saw players put 245,000 hours into the trial before the game even released. Even though the trials only offer six hours of playtime over the five days at this point, it does offer members a chance to see if a game is for them or not. That is an especially huge benefit when applied to the trial period for NHL 15
, which has exposed game modes and features that have been omitted from the Xbox One version of the game.
A few weeks ago EA confirmed
that some fan-favorite modes, including Online Team Play, EASHL, GM Connected, and Live the Life would not be available at launch. Even though there are plans to patch in Online Team Play in the future, these are pretty glaring omissions to start things off on the new console. However, a thread
which has picked up a lot of steam on the EA NHL
forums, has brought to light several modes and features that aren't currently in the EA Access early version of the game. The list is baffling at first, but after spending several hours with the trial, I can confirm the validity of the omissions.
In Be a Pro, one of the bigger of the single-player modes in the game, much of the depth has been stripped out. Most notably the inability to start your career in the juniors, work your way up to the draft, and then into the NHL. With that removed, there is no longer any sort of "earn your spot" type of journey. From the looks of things you cannot even play in the AHL, as when you start you are given the option to either be drafted by a NHL team or manually pick your team. The gameplay of Be a Pro seems to be largely unchanged, except that you can no longer skip to your next shift when you come off the ice. Instead, you have to sit with a bench view and watch as the game progresses until either your line gets called for its next shift or you manually press B to signal the line change. Off the ice, the player progression seems to behave strangely as compared to previous games. In the past if you simmed through the season, you would often be penalized for poor performance and sent to lower lines. Now, despite the fact that I received the "I've been watching you lately" talk on two different occasions, I found myself promoted from the third offensive line all the way up to the first.
In the other major single-player game mode, Be a GM, many of its depth features have also been stripped. Upon starting up my new GM, I noticed that it started out straight from the beginning of the regular season and had skipped both the NHL Draft and the offseason free-agent period. Thinking this was just how the trial worked for the start of the mode, I continued playing normally until discovering the thread for myself. Simming through the entire season, I found that the game never stopped to prompt me to play the All-Star Game, which I realized you can't take part in anymore. At the Trade Deadline, the simulation never stopped for the official trading portion, and I only received a warning that it was coming up.
The worst offense, however, is that you cannot draft your players at the NHL Draft. That in itself is an even bigger shame since there is a redefined Scouting system where you mark certain players aside and watch how they are progressing on the different scouting trips. That system is more or less pointless, however, if players cannot then go and draft these prospects. I also never received any trade requests from other teams throughout the entire two seasons I simmed through and didn't receive a single waiver notification either. Much like Be a Pro, the AHL is no longer playable, and instead all of your players in the system are now just names and you cannot watch them progress.
There are also notably far fewer game modes than have been present in previous games, including:
- NHL 94 Mode
- Winter Classic
- Be a Legend
- Season Mode
- Tournament Mode
- Playoff Mode
- Battle for the Cup
- HUT Tournaments
- HUT 'Play a Friend' Option
Among the miscellaneous features that are missing:
- Creation Zone
- Edit Team
- Edit Player
- Customize AI
- Build Your AI
- Create a Play
- Custom Music
The omission of particular game modes such as Online Team Play and EASHL already left a bitter taste for NHL fans, and now with the reveal of more missing features, it's sure to further that feeling. Players who prefer offline play were not necessarily negatively impacted by the original news of the absence of those online-based game modes. However, they will undoubtedly be affected by the amount of secondary game modes that have been cut from the game, and especially by the primary components of Be a Pro and Be a GM. It's worth pointing out that Sean Ramjagsingh, Producer of the NHL series, has posted that a new draft system
will be implemented to fix that omission in an update, but when that will take place, and how many other missing features this will happen for is not known. The unfortunate part of the situation is that all of the bad news based on what is missing in NHL 15
is detracting from the bright spots that the game has to offer so far. The more realistic gameplay, the better-looking players, fans, and arenas, and the new NHL on NBC broadcast setup - all of which have been very enjoyable parts of the game.NHL 15
already has its work cut out for it with Destiny
launching on the same day, and now with all of these missing features and modes coming to light, it's going to be an even steeper hill to climb. EA Access gives gamers the perk of getting to play games early, but this perk may have come at the expense of bad news for NHL 15
The full version of NHL 15
is being released this Tuesday, September 9th in North America, and Friday, September 12th in Europe.