Category: Hockey Achievements


We here at Hockey Achievements started our own EASHL team shortly after NHL 17 was released in September. Following up on our 6-week update from last month, we’re now taking a look at the mode and our own team in an EASHL 2016 Year in Review. We’ve put quite a bit more time into the mode over the last quarter calendar year, and here are our thoughts on the mode and how better to improve your game if you’re struggling.

POSITIONING: Since Hockey Achievements intern Travis joined the team; one important aspect of hockey has become startlingly clear and that is the aspect of positioning your players on the ice. Sure, the computer and human opponents will usually tend towards chasing the puck, but if your defenseman decides he’s going to pinch in on every play, your opponents will learn from this and often take advantage of it. Travis loves pinching as a defenseman because Hockey Achievements isn’t really known as an offensive powerhouse, winning most of our games by narrow 1-0, or 2-1 margins. Getting caught behind enemy forwards via some clever passing, however, can often lead to odd-man rushes back the other way. Luckily, we’ve been bailed out a few times via patch improvements made to our next observation.

GOALTENDING: November’s NHL 17 patch helped boost the goaltending AI and this has been critical to providing a more realistic sim experience on the ice. A deke master can still find the opening on the short side, but an elite goaltender won’t be caught out of position as often. Of course, nothing is perfect and neither are goalies, as Hockey Achievements has also been burned by soft goals on slapshots taken from outside the faceoff circles in our defensive zone. While these softies are few and far between, this makes them all the more backbreaking when they do occur. Smoother animations and movements in the crease for human players playing as goalies have also been added, but the only person to have braved stepping between the pipes thus far has been Ryan Sheehy and he’s still a bit shellshocked from the overall experience.

CUSTOMIZATION: The final aspect that has become evident as Hockey Achievements have clawed their way up the online standings and we have turned our team into a little beer-league level powerhouse has been the customization. More fonts, team colors, jersey designs, and arena additions have become available as we level our team up and that personal touch has helped the sense that we’re actually playing for something more than just your amusement dear readers. More options in these categories have also been added since NHL 17’s last patch. Although EA will likely never allow full graphic design options to help keep the game family friendly (and its ESRB rating at just E10+ for everyone 10 and older), more options to help each team define themselves and their personalities is always appreciated and is a just reward for those clutch victories you obtain online.

Hockey Achievements is nowhere near done with the EASHL, but we are more than confident in saying the changes and additions made to the mode since the game’s launch have provided a more realistic experience and a more enjoyable one. To see all of these features in action, be sure to tune in every Tuesday night at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET to watch Hockey Achievements’ weekly Tuesday Night Hockey as Ray Carsillo goes online and broadcasts games live on Twitch at twitch.tv/hockeyachievements.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for opportunities to try and join Ray, Ryan, Travis, and the rest of the Hockey Achievements crew in the EASHL as Hockey Achievements looks to fill some slots on their team as the season progresses, or face them in head-to-head competitions. Until next time, be sure to keep it tuned to HockeyAchievements.com and The Gaming Zone in particular for you all your NHL 17 needs, and we’ll see you on the digital ice.

Advertisements

The EASHL (EA Sports Hockey League) has long been one of the NHL series’ fan favorite modes. With multiplayer having become an integral part of video games since the advent of online, the mode allows NHL to offer a feature that puts it on the same level as other multiplayer powerhouses on the market. For those unfamiliar, EASHL allows player to build their own team from scratch and create their own uniforms and arenas. Instead of one player controlling the entire team, however, each player is locked into a position, with the others either filled by the CPU, or by inviting friends for some fast paced, six versus six (yes, you can play as the goaltender as well) action online.

We here at Hockey Achievements have started our own EASHL team, and after spending a few weeks online, here are our early observations on this year’s version of the mode and some pointers for players trying to get involved with a team.

PASSING: Whether in the digital realm or reality, passing is critical to any offensive play in hockey. We’ve found that even when playing with or against CPU players, NHL 17 has done a better job than in years past of forcing players to make more realistic plays in order to get to the net and score. This isn’t to say there aren’t players out there who can stickhandle their opponents into submission and drive to the net, but smart passing—knowing when to give the puck up as well as call for it from the CPU or your buddies—is often the difference maker online.

ONLINE STABILITY: For the most part, we’ve had minimal issues in terms of glitches actually in the game. Sure, some soft goals are maddening whether it’s a computer or a human in net, but latency has been almost non-existent even two months post-launch. The servers will occasionally still have a hiccup, however, and its particularly unfortunate if this happens while in game. Hockey Achievements currently posts a 3-3-3 record in online, but two of those regulation losses came when the servers crashed on a particularly rough Tuesday night.

NEW CLASSES: Part of finding success is striking a balance in terms of your team’s roles. New classes this year like Jumbo Playmaker and Hitting Sniper add some extra nuance to pre-existing classes like Power Forward or Offensive Defenseman. Having a team that can both be physical as well as fire the puck with pinpoint accuracy towards the corners of the net is necessary if you’re to find success. Per our experience, Hockey Achievements has started to find recent success since our own online play-by-play man Ray Carsillo switched from Jumbo Playmaker to a more traditional Power Forward, and Ryan Sheehy switched from Power Forward to Hitting Sniper. Ray has a knack for taking the puck deep and drawing defenders towards him, often leaving Sheehy open in the slot. Ray will then attempt to pass the puck to Ryan. Not every pass makes it through the traffic, but when it does, Ryan will have a prime opportunity to score, and his odds have improved as a Sniper. Ryan’s unselfish nature, however, sometimes leads to hesitation, and Ray switching from announcer to fan mode and screaming SHOOT! #ShootThePuckSheehy

This is just the start of Hockey Achievements’ time with the EASHL mode, and we can’t wait to continue to report on it as our time with the game continues. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday night at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET to watch Hockey Achievements’ weekly Tuesday Night Hockey as Ray Carsillo goes online and broadcasts games live on Twitch at twitch.tv/hockeyachievements and see the game in action.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for opportunities to try and join Ray and Ryan in the EASHL as Hockey Achievements looks to fill some slots on their team as the season progresses, or face them in head-to-head competitions. Until next time, be sure to keep it tuned to HockeyAchievements.com and The Gaming Zone in particular for you all your NHL 17 needs, and we’ll see you on the digital ice.

Another roster update from EA Canada came down just in time for the holiday season and saw the most changes yet for players in NHL 17. Here are some of the most interesting numbers after this late December patch.

Rookie sensation Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs saw a one-point bump up to an 86 overall, and Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid got a four-point bump up to an 92 after helping lead Edmonton to a comfortable position right now in third-place in the Pacific Division. Vancouver Canucks rookie defenseman Troy Stecher saw the biggest change in stats, though, going from a 72 overall to an 80 overall, a full eight-point boost in this patch. Stecher has 10 points in 29 games this season and notched his first career goal back on November 13th against the Dallas Stars. He’s seen a steady increase in ice time and all of these factors have led to a higher ranking.

On the other side of the puck, Auston Matthews’ boost up in Toronto was counteracted by defenseman Roman Polak’s slashing of his rating from an 85 to an 81, by far the biggest drop of any player hit with a negative to their rating this go around.

In terms of overall changes, the Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Winnipeg Jets saw the most players have changes with seven each. After seeing Columbus’s 16-game winning streak and Toronto’s terrific Centennial Classic play, it’s no wonder these teams got a lot of boosts spread around. The Buffalo Sabers, Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks saw the least changes of teams that had changes, with only two players being adjusted, included both Sharks and Senators players receiving only negative changes.

Overall, this update saw 122 players having their numbers adjusted, with 66 (54.1%) of those players getting a positive boost. The St. Louis Blues were the only team not to have a single player’s stats change, but we expect that to change in the next update after an epic 4-1 victory in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. If you’re curious to see how specific teams have changed before you head online with your favorite squad, check out the link.

EA SPORTS DECEMBER UPDATE

And speaking of playing online, be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT for more of Hockey Achievements’ Tuesday Night Hockey. Our own play-by-play savant Ray Carsillo takes on all comers in both head-to-head and EASHL matchups. Winners will receive 2000 points that can be put towards pucks here at Hockey Achievements, and everyone gets 500 just for participating. If you’d rather just watch, stay tuned to Hockey Achievements or twitch.tv/hockeyachievements.

As great as the NHL series from EA Sports is, for many years it wasn’t the only hockey offering out there for gamers. More “arcade”-type experiences—ranging from the Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey series in the late 90s, to the early 2000s’ NHL Hitz franchise from Midway—presented more off-the-wall experiences in the vein of what Blitz, The Bigs, and NBA Jam did for football, baseball, and basketball respectively. Unfortunately, all we have left of many of those games are the memories, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t yearn for something a little goofier now and again. Enter V7 Entertainment, a small startup game developer in Vancouver who have heard our cries for something a bit more lighthearted, and are planning to release a game called Old Time Hockey for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC, sometime in early 2017.

Old Time Hockey is a throwback in a multitude of ways. Not only does it feature a modern control scheme, but also a simplified, NHL 94 sort of option, and a one-handed “Beer Mode” where everything can be done with one stick and one set of bumper buttons. This way you can play with just a couple buttons like back in the old arcades—using one hand to play and drinking a beer with the other! The game also features bone-crushing hits, bench-clearing brawls, flaming nets, and even a full-fledged campaign (more on that in a bit). Oh, and did we mention it’s set in the 1970s? No helmets here! Pompadours and pucks all around, folks! The one drawback is that also like a lot of those arcade games of old, the game won’t feature online versus at all. The small developer would rather have no online than crappy online, and that’s definitely the right call in our books.

Local versus exhibition, a full-season mode, and that campaign I mentioned earlier, though, sounds like it should be more than enough to keep us satiated. The campaign is especially enticing. In it, players will join the Charlestown Blues—an obvious tribute to the Charlestown Chiefs from Slapshot—midway through a miserable season and wallowing in the basement of the Bush Hockey League. It’s up to you to turn them around in the final 40 games of the season, while earning bonus points for completing objectives like shutouts and Gordie Howe hat tricks along the way to unlock more abilities for your player and the Blues.

We’re not sure how the final product will turn out, but we here at Hockey Achievements definitely have high hopes for this vintage video game, and can’t wait to try to bring the Blues some glory. Be sure to stay tuned to Hockey Achievements for more on Old Time Hockey in the future, and let us know if you’d like to see us try it out on our weekly Tuesday Night Hockey Twitch stream when it’s released! Might be a nice change of pace, even if its just Ray playing on the couch with some buddies and some brewskis. In the meantime, enjoy Old Time Hockey’s launch trailer and be sure to take part in this week’s challenge!