The NHL series has settled into a rut of mediocrity over the last several years, failing to crack the 8 score in Game Informer reviews in each of the last four entries. This run of underwhelming (if sometimes serviceable) offerings is very surprising considering how critically acclaimed the series was last console generation.
As a serious hockey nut, I'm hoping NHL 18 can elevate this historic sports video game franchise back among the upper echelon of the genre. To get there, it needs some serious work on revamping its archaic franchise mode and fixing gameplay shortcomings like puck pickups. At least that's what the sim fan in me would love to see.
Our first look at NHL 18 answers none of these questions. Instead, the first trailer seems to imply this year the game may be going in a more arcade-oriented direction. "When you grow up playing hockey, they teach you a lot of things," the narrator says. "Get the puck deep, finish your checks, make the simple play. But then again, where's the fun in that?"
The video then cuts to Toronto Maple Leafs phenom Mitch Marner deking around an Ottawa Senators defender, making a move on goaltender Craig Anderson, and putting the rubber in the back of the net. Check it out for yourself here:
EA Canada plans to reveal more about the game during NHL Awards show on June 21. That's when we'll get a better idea of what direction the series is headed and whether or not EA can get this franchise to perform like a bonafide all-star.