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NHL 15 has become a rebuilding year for the franchise in many ways

As a relative NHL newcomer - I haven’t played a game in the franchise since 2004 - the missing game modes didn’t bother me all that much, I still had fun playing the game. Though fans who pick up each new yearly iteration will be severely disappointed, and rightfully so. Shortchanging fans who pick up NHL 15 on new-gen system, only to be met with cut content, is a slap to the face. But to their credit, EA Canada are already beginning to patch-in what’s missing, with more to come. Too little, too late I feel, since the damage is already done. Okay, so it totally sucks that some game content has been cut from the Xbox One and PS4 version, but it’s still the one you should be playing, since most of the back-end improvements made this year are exclusive to new-gen systems. The game’s collision physics received an overhaul, which applies to all 12 players on the ice, meaning the chance of massive pileups is radically increased. In addition, the NHL 15 puck now moves more realistically than ever, while stadium crowds - called “living crowds” - react authentically to plays, hold up signs, and include over 9,000 new models.
 
After not releasing on next-gen consoles last year, EA’s popular virtual hockey franchise is finally coming to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with NHL 15, although many of the franchise’s popular features will be missing, particularly GM Connected mode and Online Team Play. It seems in many ways NHL 15 has become a rebuilding year for the franchise, at least as far as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game are concerned. While growing pains are often expected when a game makes the jump to new consoles, after two years of development, many fans of EA’s NHL series expected much more out of NHL 15.

 
The franchise's physics have at least taken two small steps forward this season, by creating more realistic collisions and generating more believable puck bounces. The “moon physics” displayed during NHL 14's absurd dump-ins are mercifully gone. The invisible, protective forcefield around goaltenders has also disappeared, and while this is a welcome change for offline matchups, people online are already exploiting the fact that goalies can now draw fraudulent penalties by running out of their crease and initiating contact with innocent skaters. Online players have also discovered new ways to abuse the old left bumper + right bumper “lie down” animation, which this year, does not draw a tripping or interference penalty whenever opposing skaters stumble over a prone player.
 
Yes, Be a GM and Be a Pro modes are still here, but they don't much resemble the modes as featured in the last several entries. The GM mode has its basic framework features, letting you trade, sign free agents, and futz with player lines for up to 25 seasons. But these features are greatly lessened this time around. All the minor league hockey interaction is gone--you can still send players to the minors, but you can't play any games with your AHL affiliate, nor do players in the minors accrue stats of any kind--rookie scouting has devolved into a brief menu interaction where you assign scouts to regions for various lengths of time, and you can't even draft your own players. Or rather, not yet, anyway. A GM Draft with a three-minute timer is coming as part of those content patches, which is a step, I suppose, to returned normalcy, but doesn't really fix how barren this mode feels.
 
The most frustrating issue of all is how broken this game’s online play is. It may just be my luck, but every time I’ve been doing well, something has fucked up. I mentioned the repeating faceoff and the boot that followed, but there were two Online Versus games that I played just tonight, both of which resulted in me losing connection to my friend. When I went up five-to-two in one, he lost connection and I had to close the game and return to my dashboard, because it became stuck on an image of a faceoff dot. Then, after I tied the next game at two-a-piece, the damned thing decided to kick us both. I kid you not, it was a shit show. If you decide to pick this game up, prepare for some questionable things on the visual side. Sure, it looks great for the most part, but referees like to skate backwards when they’re reviewing a goal, and only two players celebrate each score. For some reason, the others just skate back to the bench instead of getting involved in the huddle. There’s also a jarring animation that follows, as when they all make it back, the game switches to a cutscene that shows the line that scored high-fiving the rest of its team. The transition is less than seamless.
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