NHL 18 continues to build on the success of last year’s title by making subtle but impactful refinements throughout the game. The new skill stick options give you a wealth of ways to slice through defenders, fake out goalies and light the lamp. And the improved AI make pretty much every on-ice engagement a smoother, more enjoyable ride. The real surprise of this release, though, is the NHL Threes mode. Far from the cheap schtick it appeared to be, Threes actually offers roster management, unlockables and a lengthy tour of opponents spanning multiple regions and leagues requiring a significant investment of time.
I am an owner of NHL 12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23, and I don't understand why people trash the new NHL games. I'm writing this in 2023, and while I can still see why people pretty much hate NHL 23, the PS4 generation of NHL games are great. I don't know if it's the nostalgia of being my first NHL game, or the new modes, but something about NHL 18 just hits different than others. The old skating engine is a ton of fun, even now. The older roster is a great time, every time for nostalgia purposes. The new dekes make shootout mode instantly 10 times better. I keep praising this game for everything great about it, but I can't even mention this game without acknowledging the greatest game mode in NHL video game history, that being NHL Threes. I have had an un-godly amount of huge laughs, victory yells, and saved replays in this game. Enough said.
So, in the middle year of EA’s much-ballyhooed three-year redevelopment of the NHL franchise, things are coming along nicely. New players will have to work to get up to speed, as much as the game tries to help them out, but hardcore puck nuts will find themselves going deep into overtime with this one. The almost overwhelming numbers of ways that the game can be played means that it’s one that will definitely keep you going way past the finals.
For some, grabbing the latest hockey game annually is as habitual as picking up their daily Tim Hortons. NHL 18 does bring a great Threes gameplay mode, advanced stick maneuverability and expanded franchise functionality while doing little to address play-by-play commentary, single-player campaign and microtransaction concerns. Great to pick up for the first time in years, but not as big a step forward for year-to-year fans.
NHL 18 bites off more than it can chew in terms of new gameplay moves, although the defensive skill stick is a welcome feature. The arcade game mode NHL Threes delivers fast and lasting fun, but the simulation modes — the series’ most important components — lacks personality in an age when most sports games ooze personality.
This game really didn't do much to expand on NHL 17, besides adding the Vegas Golden Knights. The 3 on 3 mode grew old pretty quick. They really should have just named it Arcade mode instead. The gameplay is pretty similar to an arcade game with nothing else really special about it. Even NHL 19 is looking more promising with its pond hockey mode. I sure hope it delivers on making sure it feels like its own game and not what is essentially a carbon copy.
My feelings are a bit of a mixed bag on NHL '18. I so badly want to love this game, but I feel as though the developers are focusing too much on the fluff and fillers than on the actual game itself. For example: there are little nuances in the game of hockey that make it, well you know... hockey. Such as: If you are overly aggressive in the face-off circle, in real life, the official would toss you out, but not here. Pucks do not go into the stands nearly enough in this game. You can jab away at a goalie freezing a puck, with little to no response from his teammates. This physics engine needs to go. The puck physics are pretty solid, but the physics that govern how the players interact with each other is really starting to get stale. We still have no real excitement surrounding the on ice players when you score a goal. Meaning, still NO 5 MAN GOAL CELEBRATIONS!!! I cannot figure out how the FIFA developers can pull off goal celebrations like they do, but it seems to be of no importance to the NHL developers. Seems crazy, considering that this is supposed to be a true hockey simulation, but we still are left with the awkward 2 man canned animations after a goal is scored, while the other on ice teammates skate away like the puck just got shot out of play. So weird that this continues to be ignored by the dev team. Like most sports games, the atmosphere is the key to creating that illusion of realism. But since there hasn't been much emphasis placed on the subtleties of the sport, that realism factor really suffers. Sure, the new 3's mode is fun, but I really feel like that is something that could have been added down the road or even as a DLC option, so that more time could have been spent on improving the overall simulation package. Don't get me wrong. NHL '18 does have better gameplay than NHL '17. However, so far, 18 feels more like NHL 17.2. I am starting to feel as though the NHL dev team might benefit more from doing what the NBA LIVE team just did, and take a season off. The annual installments are beginning to feel more like $60 patches than completely new versions. Unfortunately, without a competitor title being produced, this will most likely never change. Although, as consumers, we deserve more for our hard earned money. In closing, here are a few bullet points to help improve the series:
-we need a real time physics engine, no more canned animation BS.
-post whistle scrums in the crease
-kick players out of the faceoff circles if they are overly aggressive.
-more loose pucks please
-more pucks getting deflected out of play
-too many men on the ice penalties
-player suspensions for illegal hits and game misconducts.
-players losing an edge when trying to make quick turns
-goalie mask customizations, along with putting the actual goalie masks for all the star goalies in the game.
Overall, I scored NHL '18 a 7 out of 10. Is this game better than NHL '17? Yes, but just slightly, Graphics: looks the same as previous years '16 & '17.
Gameplay: slightly improved (still missing basic nuances of the game)
Sound: about the same
Replayability: Moderately High.
Buy/Rent/Wait for Sale or Take a pass?: I almost took a pass this year after I played the BETA, however, I sold my copy of NHL '17 and needed a Hockey game to play, so I reluctantly picked it up.
I would rent this if you can, or hold off for the Black Friday doorbusters, as the EA titles usually are close to half price during that time. I hope this review helped.
Every so often one must admit when they are wrong ... oh so very wrong.
Originally I gave this game an 8/10, but had yet to experience the full online "experience" - most notably the EASHL mode. At first I thought it was just a little buggy, but with over 100 games in the bag now I can safely say ... this game has SERIOUS (game breaking) problems.
If I only played offline, and if you only play offline, or 1v1, you're probably fine, it's a great game, and that could be an 8/10 ... but not so much if you play EASHL.
I don't eve know where to begin, Johnnyhockey's review is actually pretty accurate, but I can't give it a zero because despite all the bugs and glitches, I still enjoy the game enough to give it a 4 (see my update below).
TLDR (even for me): EASHL ... I spend 99% in this mode, and just wow ... wtf.
- if a fight is triggered during the game, there's about a 70% chance the game just 'resets' itself back to the face off prior to the fight. **UPDATE OCT 27*** This bug is GAME BREAKING, in my opinion.
- Upon scoring a goal there's about a 10-20% chance that the game 'resets' itself back to the face off prior to the goal scored.
- If someone quits the game any other way than via the menu it seems to trigger a long delay for everyone, and you just sit at a screen showing people in voice chat, then the game comes back, sometimes up to 5 minutes later.
- As previous years' releases ... during a face off the game sometimes just starts to 'reset' once the face off has taken place and it's entirely possible that the game just loops at this point. Face off, reset, face off, reset ...
- Stat tracking definitely appears be completely coked out, at least certain stats - shot blocks specifically. You could get 6 blocked shots in a game and it won't register on your career page; however, stats like goals, assists and penalty minutes do seem to be accurate, unless you're in one of those games where you scored a goal and the game 'reset' back to a prior face off
All in all ... this game is buggy as hell, and is not worth the full price. Don't waste your money unless this is a game that you buy annually ... even then.
This Game False Advertised everything about it. EA removed many dekes and replaced them with original and useless new dekes. The game is far too unrealistic. The AI is terrible, Body Checking ****, and stick checks are overpowered. Skaters are skating like peewees, and goalies are swiss cheese. unless you have a stacked team like I do( I.E. 99 overalls) then your players will let you down. This was probably the best year for hit, since everyone had 90 overalls and higher by January. Overall, this series does not resemble hockey whatsoever. It's the EA Sports Monopoly that targets these young generations to get them to spend more on this game. Don't give in to EAs Demands. They're the worst company Twice for a reason.
SummaryNHL 18 is built to deliver the speed, skill, and creativity of today’s young new NHL through Creative Attack controls and the all-new Defensive Skill stick. The new 3-on-3 NHL THREES mode introduces fast-paced, arcade-inspired action and, in Franchise Mode, the Expansion Draft feature lets fans be the first to play as the Vegas Golden Kn...