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Review

NHL 17 Review

  • First Released Sep 13, 2016
    released
  • Reviewed Sep 8, 2016
  • XONE
  • PS4

Hit the ice.

Last year's NHL 16 marked a return to form for EA's hockey franchise. It reinstated many of the series’ trademark modes that were removed in the transition to current-generation consoles and introduced an on-ice trainer that made the game much more enjoyable. NHL 17 offers modes with some new bells and whistles, but unfortunately, these few additions aren't significant enough to make NHL 17 stand out from the past.

Thankfully, the action on the ice still shines: handling the puck, skating down the ice, and taking that opportune shot is just as great as it was last year. You feel like you have just the right amount of control over the puck, and you're never left wondering why you lost possession, since taking the puck away from an opponent is also precise and fair. Playing goalie is very similar to last year as well, with intuitive controls that make it easy to drop into a butterfly stance, hug the posts, and move from one side of the crease to the other in an attempt to stop those tricky one-timers.

Gameplay can once again be accompanied by the augmented on-ice trainer--which displays information on the players and ice, such as face-off suggestions and shooting lanes--to help you learn all of NHL 17's tricks. It continues to be a fantastic tool for learning how to perform certain tasks, such as faceoffs and specific dekes, while also telling you why you succeeded or failed. If you went for the puck too early or late in a face-off, it'll let you know. If you lose a face-off that felt like it was a sure thing, the trainer will alert you as to why it happened and whether your player's skill was lower than his opponent's or it was just a toss-up. This information is indispensable. The in-game training system is also adaptive and will flip certain hints off as you learn new skills--and if you don't want to see the trainer, you can turn it off completely. As someone who last made their way through the trainer more than a year ago however, it quickly got me back up to speed and learning new skills in NHL 17.

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The rest of the game's user interface has received some big improvements. The menus still look and feel like they’d work best with a touchscreen or a mouse, but navigation is now more responsive. Roster filters are now a lot more instantaneous, as opposed to the sluggish feeling of making your way through the team interface last year. The NHL games always have an immense number of modes and menus, so improvements in navigation are always appreciated.

One of this year's marquee single-player modes is Franchise, which replaces last year's Be a GM and adds a bunch of new numbers and menus to tinker with. In addition to cutting deals with free agents and trading for key players, you can raise and lower the price of your stadium's food, schedule promotional nights, and relocate your team to a new city. Changing the prices of popcorn or setting up bobblehead nights is a fun novelty at first, but not for long. Thankfully, NHL 17 allows a fair bit of customization across the game, and this carries into Franchise. Turning off specific elements of this mode allows you to focus on the aspects you want to get involved in, such as cutting a deal on a free agent or trading for a key player.

NHL 17 also reintroduces the World Cup of Hockey, which coincides with the tournament of the same name. The World Cup works just like any other mode, where you play as one team and compete against others in a number of games. The difference between this and the regular season or playoff modes is the presentation, with its majestic music and broadcast-worthy camera angles that are only marred by the in-game commentary repeating itself a bit too often. Unfortunately, this is where the presentation starts and ends--if you win the World Cup, you don't get to see your team awarded with the titular trophy. This is confusing and disappointing, since every other mode rewards players with a short video of your team hoisting the appropriate trophy.

Whereas most modes have you play as an entire team, Be a Pro narrows the focus to a single player. You create a skater from scratch and take him from the bottom to the top of the NHL by scoring important goals, making big hits, and setting up teammates. It's become a mainstay in the series, but unfortunately, Be a Pro hasn't improved year to year. It's nearly indistinguishable from the experience found in NHL 16 and includes the exact same problems. You can score multiple points a game, but if you don't play a strong defensive game, you could be punished and moved down a line. Scoring a hat trick and getting demoted after the same game is both baffling and frustrating.

Single-player modes fulfill a certain need, but hockey’s a team sport, and the EASHL sees you take a single player online to play with a group of other players. This mode lets you take to the ice in any position, as you play hockey, level up, and unlock new customization options for your player and club arena. The unlockable items are a good target to aim for when gaining experience, since your player and arena will look considerably more awesome as you acquire better-looking gear.

Hockey Ultimate Team makes a return, and it remains an engaging experience. You open card packs, which contain players of different skill levels depending upon the type of pack you purchase--these can be bought with both in-game currency or real money. You then take these cards and make a roster before taking them into games against real or AI opponents. It's a rewarding experience when you get cards that complement your roster nicely, but spending actual money on a pack and not getting a single usable player is infuriating. It makes you feel like you shouldn't spend money at all--you can rely exclusively on the in-game currency you can grind out by playing the game.

Think about what you've done.
Think about what you've done.

Draft Champions is a new addition to the NHL series, and it’s used mainly for earning Hockey Ultimate Team currency. The goal? Win four games in a row against online opponents or the AI with a team you draft from a specific theme, which might focus on players who are from Canada, have won the Stanley Cup, or are relatively new to the NHL. You start with a roster of 20 low-skilled players, and you get 12 rounds to replace them with the best possible skaters. It’s fun to experiment with the strategy of how to draft your team. Do you want to make sure all your bases are covered, or would you prefer to frontload your offense? On top of that, it’s gratifying to actually win with the team you threw together, but online’s the only way to go with this mode. Offline solo play is available, but playing against AI-controlled teams that don't take part in their own draft--and have eight lower-skilled players--is a boring, frustrating experience.

NHL 17 is a great game of hockey, but unlike last year, there isn't a standout mode or feature that makes this game substantially better than its predecessor. It rides off a lot of what NHL 16 did, and the new additions don't add anything crucial to the experience. It's still a lot of fun to trade players in Franchise, build a formidable roster in Hockey Ultimate Team, and actually play matches, but if you were hoping NHL 17 would be a significant step forward for the series, you're out of luck.

Back To Top
The Good
Responsive controls
On-ice trainer is an effective teaching tool
Improved user interface
Lots of customization options
The Bad
Repetitive commentary
Not meaningfully different from NHL 16
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mat is Canadian, which means it's against federal law for him to not consume hockey on a daily basis. He's played every NHL game since 2001, and spent 20 hours with the Xbox One version of NHL 17 with a copy provided by the publisher.
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Avatar image for Furwings
Furwings

I've bought/played EA's NHL every year since the original NHL Hockey on the Genesis. NHL 15 on PS4/XB1 was $hit on by the review media and gamers alike (and rightfully so). NHL 16 added a lot more little touches to the presentation with team arena specific effects, mascots etc, but more importantly added back in most of the features and game modes that should've been in 15. NHL 17 is a pretty damn good hockey video game. Yes it still has a few flaws that are frustrating, but overall the good far outweighs the bad IMO. I could list all of the flaws I've noticed or bother me, but instead I'll just touch on 5 that need fixing.

(1) Board pinning - this just has to go. It barely occurs in real-life anymore because 90% of the time in the real thing it's a holding penalty. Also just the way it happens in the game is super frustrating. My puck carrying forward can be skating along the boards with lots of speed and momentum yet the defender can somehow board pin me, even when my body is 3/4 of the way past him - so almost like an auto magnet sucks my forward into the boards! Total BS and not realistic AT ALL!

(2) Goalie passing - Still absolutely horrible! Please fix this!

(3) The new "Net front battles" are simply a way for the CPU to get away with yet EVEN MORE interference! Get rid of this!

(4) Polygon clipping/hit detection - the puck should NEVER go through any solid object such as sticks, skates, goal pads etc. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the right position and having a cross-crease pass for a tap-in one-timer go THROUGH your defender's stick or skate for a goal for the opposition!

(5) Auto line changes - So unbalanced. Unless I specifically press O or B and select my 4th line, they almost NEVER see the ice! The AI leaves your first line on until they're gasping for air like they just crawled through the Sahara desert! The second line is nearly just as bad and then once in a blue moon you'll see your 3rd line. This is stupid. Almost every NHL team cycles 4 lines in the real thing.

Giving this game a 7/10 is insulting. This game is far from perfect but deserves at least an 8.5/10

Avatar image for thenintendobox
TheNintendoBox

"playing goalie is very similar to last year as well, with intuitive controls that make it easy to drop into a butterfly stance, hug the posts, and move from one side of the crease to the other in an attempt to stop those tricky one-timers." this is a flatout lie, did the reviewer even try to play as a goalie, it feels like this was written by ea and sent to gamespot to post as its review

also nice to know the goalie controls were shit too in nhl 16 though

Avatar image for thecrush12
Thecrush12

EA for nhl is just awful for online. Why can you make it 3 vs 1 on online versus like really. How is it any fair? It's supposed to be 1 vs 1. This is making me never want to buy another nhl game again until EA fixes their crap.

Avatar image for OfficialBed
OfficialBed

Picked it up yesterday. It's great!

Avatar image for timthegem
timthegem

Sports video games are like automobiles. Every year, new models are released with minor upgrades over previous years. Once in a while there's a dramatic improvement that you can tell took several years to develop.

If you don't whine about annual updates from auto manufacturers, don't whine about annual EA sports game updates. You can buy a new one every five years and be perfectly happy.

Avatar image for TeknoBug
TeknoBug

From what I heard, yesterday's patch made the game worse.

Avatar image for Sam3231
Sam3231

Pretty sad. Can't wait for the day EA takes a more progressive approach to sports games instead of re-releasing the same shit every year. A new copy of NHL should give you a digital download of next year's game and a discounted download for the year after. That should breath life into this franchise.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Sam3231: The sport doesn't change and they only have a year to make these, what do you expect?

Avatar image for Sam3231
Sam3231

@philip6k: A year to make them? It is virtually the same thing as last year's game, hell they probably could have released the changes as a patch.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Sam3231: Yes a year, lol why would you ask right after I told you. It's actually less than a year with manufacturing and stuff. Virtually the same? First off you have to be pretty dense if you don't notice the changes but once again its a sport. The sport doesn't change every year. What do you expect them to add? Jet packs and laser beams? Maybe make a side FPS mode?

Avatar image for Sam3231
Sam3231

It was a rhetorical question, I am implying they don't actually make a game from scratch each year. Alot of the code and resources is copied over from year to year. But who knows maybe some people think a slightly changed UI, roster update and a few functional changes is worth $60 a year. I just think it wouldn't hurt for EA to adopt a more progressive approach to selling their sports games instead putting out a new game and asking for $60 each year. I mean just look at other games, they release changes and updates to games that are years old free of charge. EA is stingy.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Sam3231: Agreed but sadly they will do what is most profitable and if people keep buying them they will keep up with their minor updates every year. I don't think these games sell enough for them to be able to say release the game then just give it updates for a 2 year cycle till the next one comes out.

Avatar image for thomasn7
ThomasN7

It is way better than NHL 16. Played for 5 hours yesterday in HUT. No lag, everything was smooth for me except for a few passes were off key. People who complain about lag is because they have a tin can internet connection and they expect games to work flawlessly on it. Silly kids!

Avatar image for robokill
robokill

@thomasn7: wrong

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@robokill: Nope hes correct.

Avatar image for silv3rst0rm
silv3rst0rm

@thomasn7: Maybe you suffered no lag cause the servers aren't loaded yet?

Once everyone get their retail version and hit the servers get ready for some lag I fear...

There's probably only 10% of the people getting it on "Early Access"...

Avatar image for MegamanX97
MegamanX97

@thomasn7: I agree - I find a good improvement over NHL 16. Is it light years? No.. but worth the purchase to me anyways.

Avatar image for ragethorn
ragethorn

Guys, and gals; we need to create a petition of some sort. A petition to fire Rammer.

Avatar image for lukaskus
lukaskus

no voiceover this time? O_o

Avatar image for sephirothswing
sephirothsWing

This is how PES & FIFA reviews should be, it's the same shit every year with these Sports Games

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@sephirothswing: No duh, the sports themselves don't change on a yearly basis. What do you expect? Durrrrr

Avatar image for sephirothswing
sephirothsWing

@philip6k: I expect at least one difference between each title, every year isn't the same in the real world buddy, turn on your TV or leave your house once in a while and you'll understand.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@sephirothswing: They have battles in front of the net now. Actually there are many years where the sport doesn't change at all, they don't change rules and add to the game every year.....

Also nice comeback, you tell me to turn on the tv and/or leave the house? LOL! I think your reading comprehension is just bad. If your talking about how there are different champions each year for some reason, well yeah no duh.

Avatar image for deactivated-58aa7e27264a0

Not paying $80 (Canadian) for a roster update and some new animations. I'll stick to playing NHL 16 with EA Access.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@IIIMatricksIII: Get a job.

Avatar image for deactivated-58aa7e27264a0

@philip6k: Ah, ye old troll comment. Good one. Not that my financial and employment status is any of your business, but I'm happily employed thank you.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@IIIMatricksIII: lol get a half decent job then.

Avatar image for deactivated-58aa7e27264a0

@philip6k: Get a half decent comment and perhaps then we can negotiate a perception of my life details that satisfies you.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@IIIMatricksIII: LOL just a lame stereotypical comment. Also who are you to judge the value of peoples comments? Do your life details even satisfy yourself? Sounds like your hardly getting by.

Avatar image for deactivated-58aa7e27264a0

@philip6k: After judging the value of my financial life based on one comment, you ask how I can judge the value of your comment based on... your comment? Really? Your reasoning skills are amazing. In any case, how my life satisfies me and what your perceptions of it may be are completely irrelevant, but please do continue to think I owe you any sort of answer to your questions.

Enjoy your perceptions and your game. Hope they both make you feel awesome.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@IIIMatricksIII: Well one can assume around where you're financially in life by the fact your crying over paying $80 for hours of entertainment.

You judging a value of a comment is random and has nothing to go off of.

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@philip6k: 80 bucks Canadian is kind of misleading. If you count the tax in some provinces it's close to 100 bucks. That's quite expensive for some AI tweaks and a roster updates so before you make a snarky comment know what you're talking about next time kid.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Lizard_King89: 80 if your dumb, I havn't paid more than $60 on a game in years. I got uncharted 4 when it came out for $42 on amazon. Take advantage of promos like at E3. Even so 100 bucks for the amount of hours of entertainment you will get out of it is very cheap. If your crying about not enough changes (it's a sport, they can only do so much the sport doesn't change yearly), maybe just don't buy it every year? Durrr

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@philip6k: Let me spell this out for you again. In CANADA games are 79.99. In some provinces, taxes are as high as 15%. A lot of these promos aren't even available in Canada. Maybe 100 bucks isn't much to you living in your parent's basement rent free and all but people have these things called bills they have to pay every month. For 100 bucks you damned well better give me a good game.

Hurr Durr I don't know the value of money.

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Lizard_King89: Reading comprehension much? I also live in Canada and those promo's I get are indeed actually in Canada. Also 100 bucks isn't much because I actually did something with my life and got a good job :) Do you work at walmart or something? If your hurting on spending 100 bucks for hours of entertainment you need to rethink your life.

Hurrr Durrr my brain doesn't restrict my living.

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@philip6k: Nowhere in your last comment did you say you were from Canada so my reading comprehension is just fine thanks.

I have no problem dropping 100 bucks on a game if it's worth me doing so. Hell, I dropped that much on Street Fighter 2 for the SNES back in the day.

I'm not saying this is a bad game I'm saying that in the past these EA sports games aren't worth blowing money on every year. By reading your posts to other people you seem to be either a raging EA fan boy or an immature child with anger issues. Either way seek help immediately

Avatar image for philip6k
philip6k

@Lizard_King89: When you say it costs $80 in Canada then immediately after I said I haven't paid more than $60 in years, it self implies I am also from Canada. So actually that is a major reading comprehension fail. If you said it costs 80 in Canada, why would I randomly say I pay this is a different place. That would be a completely random and irrelevant statement.

Now your hilariously just assuming I love EA or even own NHL 17 for that matter. I think your the one that needs help son. So butthurt.

Avatar image for Warhearted
Warhearted

I will be buying this for sure, but only because I haven't bought a new NHL game since '13 and I'm ready for an upgrade. I enjoyed the hell out of the demo but I suppose it wouldn't take much to impress me after four years and a new engine.

Avatar image for peterhorner1867
peterhorner1867

Quote honestly. You could sit me in a room with 3 screens with 15, 16 & 17 playing at the same time and without looking at the menus I honestly wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the 3. Bought 15 when it came out and have downloaded the full trials for 16 & 17 via ea access. Don't see any point in buying

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@peterhorner1867: I played the beta and it was underwhelming to say the least. You're spot on when you say that you can't tell a difference graphically between 15,16 and 17. Hell some of the animations hark back to last gen and it's still the same clunky menu system from NHL 15!

It's so disappointing that there isn't an NHL game worth buying yet on this current gen consoles. I know the NHL series doesn't have the big budget and staff of say Madden or Fifa but come on on some effort in. But there's no competition so they just don't give a shit.

Avatar image for peterhorner1867
peterhorner1867

@Lizard_King89: I agree apart from the bit about there been no good nhl games on this current gen cos I think 15 is excellent. To be fair, all 3 are excellent hockey games, there's just no difference between any of them meaning there's no reason to buy the next installment

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@peterhorner1867: I haven't played 15 but I tried 16 and while the gameplay itself was fine I hated the laggy menus, the moral system in be a gm and how you earn experience in be a pro. I just didn't feel it was worth buying.because I didn't like the modes. I'm waiting for a hockey game that's worth 60 bucks and I hate giving EA money lol.

Avatar image for robokill
robokill

It's actually a lot worse. An objective review would place it around 5/10. Too often wins and losses have little to do with skill. The engine sucks plain and simple.

It's not a fun game and that's why it deserves a low score. With each iteration the game gets worse, the controls get looser, online gets worse....screw this franchise and its terrible games.

Avatar image for obiken
obiken

@robokill: Its not fun, that just says it all. How many games are so hard even on easy level that they are not fun. That was my problem with the new MOO, the interface was so complex it was not fun. Masters of Orion 2 was fun. EA Sports need to just update rosters and do the 5 Major sports once every other year.

Avatar image for stewart24
stewart24

@obiken: you could just buy the game every other year.

Avatar image for robokill
robokill

@stewart24: but it sucks every year so it doesn't matter.

Avatar image for edussz
edussz

Hey EA! Do the effing PC version!

Avatar image for stewart24
stewart24

Wow this was a skimpy review. They talk about almost nothing about gameplay. They literally only have 4 sentences talking about gameplay. The rest is just talking about gamemodes which seems like they are reading off the back of the box.

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NHL 17 More Info

Follow
  • First Released Sep 13, 2016
    released
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    NHL 17 lets players hit the ice for another season of hockey.
    6.7
    Average Rating20 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate NHL 17
    Developed by:
    EA Vancouver
    Published by:
    EA Sports, Electronic Arts, EA Games
    Genre(s):
    Simulation, Sports, Team-Based, Hockey
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Mild Violence