Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
We played on Xbox One
The NHL series has always been good, but NHL 17 shines by adding new game modes that increase the number of options available to players.
One of the most noteworthy inclusions is the World Cup of Hockey. This new mode allows players to take control of their home (or favorite) country and play through the World Cup of Hockey just like the pros are doing right now. This is an interesting mode that provides special rosters and is a shorter experience than playing through a full season in the Franchise mode while still giving players more engagement than a quick match.
Another significant change came in the Franchise Mode mode. This took the Be a GM mode from previous games and turned it on its head. They did this by empowering players to micromanage their team from roster decisions all the way to which nights they give away Bobbleheads.
You even have an owner with their own goals for the club. My owner, for example, was very clear. We were expected the either make the playoffs and be a contender, or we were to make sure that the fans were happy with the direction we were going. I also had to keep my players happy. Oh! He also thought we needed more parking and a better concession stand.
These were the tasks laid out before me as I started my first season in the Franchise mode in NHL 17. I was astonished by the level of control I had in the day to day operations of the team and its stadium. They were so detailed and so interesting that I might have even considered simulating all of the games and just managing things. But, the actual mechanics of playing out the games were just too good to let fly by.
The on ice mechanics are where NHL 17 truly shines. Gameplay flows naturally as you move the puck around the ice. The natural speed of hockey is, as any fan knows, FAST and 17 doesn’t disappoint. I was under pressure at all times as opposing players were driving into me to steal the puck away or smash me into the boards.
A good sports game is one that will simulate the professional game in an authentic way. A GREAT game will teach players who are not experts to understand the sport and how to be a better player. NHL 17 does an amazing job of that. The coaching tools come in three parts. First there are on screen prompts and highlights while you are playing the game that will tell you, essentially, what your coach would want you to do and what button to press to do it. So you might be prompted to press in on your right thumb stick to Hustle after the puck or press a button to poke check the puck away from an opponent, or to pass. Second, the commentary team adds subtle cues to their dialogue to help identify penalties and to explain what the player may have done wrong. Lastly, players are given grades in between each period and then given specific pointers on how to improve their marks on both offense and defense.
The ESRB has rated NHL 17 E10+ as a result of some mild violence. Hockey is a violent game. It is a game where professional athletes speed around the ice with knives strapped to their feet after all. It is also one of the few non-combat sports that allows fist fighting without immediate ejection. As a result there is an entire game system dedicated to the metagame of hockey fights. The camera focuses on those two players as they hold each other’s jerseys, punch, and shove until one of the players is defeated.
NHL 17 is a remarkable game that is a must-have purchase for hockey fans across the globe.