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What NHL 15 XBox One excites us most is its newly added horsepower of the two machines

NHL 14 was probably the best incarnation of the series to date, with EA raising the bar continually since around NHL 7. I wondered all summer how EA could make NHL 15 any better. As NHL 15 will grace the NHL 15 Xbox One and the PS4 the added horsepower of the two machines really has me excited. I have been playing the Xbox One version for some time now and have come up with some criticisms and praises for the new game. 
 
The hardened NHL fans look past those visual achievements, and when I did so I found a hollow experience devoid of some of the depth in play modes that made NHL 14 so good. Popular modes like EA Sports Hockey League, Be A Legend, and Winter Classic have all been permanently axed, while Playoff Mode and Online Team Play will be patched in at some point. The gameplay modes that did make the cut have all lost some part of their functionality, making the experience a little more hollow. Worst of all, some of the choices they did decide to leave in the available play modes are beyond explanation.
 
Along with the players EA has accurately recreated every arena in the NHL from top to bottom. You can see the wooden rafters in Madison Square Garden (home of the NY Rangers) or the 3 tiered private suites or boxes in Staples Center (home of the LA Kings); the level of detail is quite amazing. In our hometown rink of Rogers Arena (Vancouver Canucks) I noticed the almost perfect lighting effects; it felt as if I was watching a home game on the television. 

 
NHL 15 represents the series' debut on the current generation of consoles. As with all yearly games on new consoles, there's always a concern of some features falling by the wayside as a team works to ensure their game actually runs on the new hardware. Last year, those concerns mostly didn't come to pass for games like Madden and NBA 2K. Madden 25 managed to keep its game intact on the NHL 15 Xbox One  and PlayStation 4 by delaying any serious visual or gameplay upgrades to this year's installment.
 
The theme of loss is made much more pronounced when you check out the game's other modes. Compared to other sports games, it feels a bit empty. Basic modes, like a simple Season mode and a Playoff mode, are completely absent. The latter is planned for an upcoming patch, and the former is not in the cards at all. When you compare this to previous NHL titles or even the version of NHL 15 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, this version feels gutted. Missing the NHL 94 Anniversary mode might not be that big of a deal since the newer consoles emphasize their power, but when the bonus game is as iconic as that, its omission for early console adopters stings. GM Connected mode is also missing, so there's no chance for you to compete against others in a managerial level. The Winter Classic, which is so hyped by the league since it takes the game outdoors and makes players subject to the elements, is also missing. The biggest mode that longtime fans will miss is the EA Sports Hockey League, which let large groups of players team up and take on other teams for championships. It was such a huge and important part of the game since NHL 9 that seeing it gone is almost enough to make longtime fans skip this series until it makes a return.
 
If you can ever wrap your head around the insane amount that's missing from it and how unacceptable that is, there is fun to be had with NHL 15 buried below the initial disappointment. Things can only improve from here. Hopefully the game will see some productive software updates -- not just to beef up the lacking game modes and features, but also gameplay tweaks and refinements. Make no mistake, loyalists are going to find themselves torn. NHL 15 is incomplete, but it's also the most advanced hockey sim made to date.
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