NHL 20 Impressions

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Primis
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NHL 20 Impressions

Post by Primis » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:41 pm

NHL 20 saw a Free Weekend this last weekend (roughly from Friday to Monday). And I got some time in with it, so I figured I'd post my impressions of it vs NHL 19.

Gameplay/mechanics feels nearly identical to NHL 19. This is a mixed bag sort of thing. I like some of how NHL 19 feels and how you come to goals a lot more organically, but IMO the default tuner sets really, really over-emphasize random puck deflections/bounces/etc. It drives me crazy. Much like NHL 19, NHL 20 really, really wants players to stop using Pokecheck and instead use Stick Lift, and happily doles out way too many penalties for say poking with your stick, or going down to one knee to block a shot. I personally had to really, really tweak NHL 19's tuners to get it even playable, and NHL 20 is more of the same.


The AI (or the AI controlling Player 1's player even) is I *think* supposed to be improved with the whole "losing the puck in your feet" thing, but I'll admit I still saw a little too much of it happening for my liking so... whatever. It doesn't seem improved to me. I also didn't see the goalies being improved form giving up bad angles goals a bit too much,


One the Presentation side, the use of NBC Sports is gone, and this is a welcome change. Instead, you get generic graphics and a broadcast team of Ray Ferraro (Color) and... *looks up name*... James Cybulski (Play By Play). I'm not a huuuuge fan of Cybulski, but he's still better than Emerick/Olczyk. Olczyk in particular is and has been awful for some time, and being n NHL games only made it all the worse. Overall the broadcast team feels more "real" in-game I think than Emerick and Olczyk's canned commentary did even from the start. I think this is because they have Ferraro's Color commentary come up during actual game play, or something else with the timing of it all. It just feels more real and natural, not as formulaic as in the forever past even predating Mike and Ed.

Gone is the old scoreboard. Instead at first start you are prompted to calibrate a persistent "ribbon" scoreboard at the bottom of your screen. This ticker ribbon will give you all the in-game information. I happen to like this a bit more than the scoreboard in the top left. It's just less-intrusive, plain and simple. I think most will like that change. I overall liked the new presentation graphics and don't miss the NBC branding at all, not one bit.

Also now there's a Play of the Period/Play of the Game sort of thing during breaks that I kinda' like sometimes but... meh, if it was missing it wouldn't be a huge loss either. Overall the Presentation package is much better though I think. It's needed work for a while now.


There's a new offline Instant Ones mode (building off the Ones mode from 19) that is fun for about 30 seconds but I personally find infuriating and frustrating.

There's some sort of change to HUT where your players can gain attributes as you progress, but I hate HUT (I still hate hate HATE the use of Contracts) and almost never play it so I didn't drill into it to see more. I'd personally like to see HUT removed altogether but it will never happen because that's where EA makes it extra money. To me the focus on HUT year after year has cut deep into the Franchise, Be a Pro, and just basic gameplay and all have suffered for years now because of it. I really miss Be A Pro (and its analogs) not being fairly broken. I used to almost exclusively play BAP.

I also wish EA would bring back regular old online Drop In Hockey. For all its flaws, it was still superior to these other online game modes.


NHL 19 was free on XBox for a month (can't speak for PS), and if you nabbed it for free with Games With Gold I can't say there's much to really pressure you to shell out for NHL 20. I personally will stick with 19 and just update rosters/add & edit players/etc, myself. The one big thing I wish I could port over from 20 (the Broadcast Presentation) is a minor thing in the grand scheme, to me anyhow.

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NHL 20 Impressions

Post by archibalduk » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:53 pm

Thanks; that's a really interesting read. It seems to correspond with the comments over on the Operation Sports forum.

Back when the PS4 and XBox One were announced I decided to hang fire upgrading until there was a sufficiently improved version of NHL. I'm still waiting! I might take the plunge with the next generation of consoles and would inevitably purchase the latest version of NHL. However, given the lack of any improvements to the AI for so many years, I just cannot see me enjoying it all that much. I'm not fussed about the multiplayer side of things. I just want to be able to play single player offline. :dunno:

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NHL 20 Impressions

Post by Primis » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:59 pm

I'm with you archi, I ultimately just want to play offline single-player Be A Pro a Franchise, and that's still where I spend most of my time. But from EA's perspective, there's no additional potential for getting money from those. With CHEL and Ones and HUT, they of course can charge users money to get perks and upgrades.

I do want to say: don't get me wrong, the AI has definitely gotten better over the years. Defensively, the AI has gotten pretty wicked at times in both 19 and 20. I'm always surprised at how often an AI controlled defender alone back defending a 2-on-1 will absolutely do what he needs to do to shut it down, given the volatility and randomness that can happen in that situation (I will even sometimes try some pretty crazy things in those scenarios and the AI still knows what to do usually). And the AI is smarter in the corners and on the wall I think. EA has slowly made progress there for sure. The losing the puck/puck in feet thing is partially a tuner slider you can control still, but... at a certain point if I'm having to heavily modify every single tuner slider, you have to wonder just what exactly EA thinks they're doing with their broken default tuner set.

I was impressed though with how EA finally listened to fan gripes about the broadcast presentation though. To get a good experience, you don't need the big names and voices, and what Ferraro and the other guy bring sounds a whole lot better and more authentic and even organic (there's that word again), and I can't stress enough how much I like the scoreboard moving to a ticker ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Those seem minor and maybe even dumb, but for instance that scoreboard is there EVERY SINGLE GAME, and with it now being out of the way, it improves things a lot. Seeing more ice is always, ALWAYS a good thing.

There's hope there still.

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