Finding Balance in NHL 16

When it comes to creating a sports game, one of the biggest issues always seems to be finding balance between the offensive and defensive side of the game. With most franchises, specifically EA Sports’ NHL series, finding that balance has been a taxing process that finally seems to be heading in the right direction with NHL 16.

The franchise has always been a game that favored the offense much more than the defensive side of things, but the development team at EA Sports Vancouver is hoping to change that this year with the new precision skating system.

“We put a lot of effort into the precision the skating,” lead producer Sean Ramjagsingh said. “We said we can do fast really well, but for you to move two feet to the left or right is extremely difficult. That’s one of the tools that we wanted to give you.”

With the new precision skating system, players will be able to better position themselves in relation to the puck to make sure they have the best angle possible, whether it be on offense or defense. From trying to set up in the slot for the perfect one-timer to moving just a few inches to break up a passing lane, the new skating system allows players to get into any position on the ice possible to make the play.

In addition to skating balance, fixing issues in regards to puck control was also a major point of emphasis during NHL 16’s development. It used to be too easy to maintain control of the puck, and too difficult to knock it away. Now, with NHL 16, player puck control is tuned in a way to make it more realistic than ever, especially when it comes to puck pickups.

“Our old pick up system, we always forced you to glide or stop to pick it up rather than continuing what you were doing or doing what you wanted to do,” Ramjagsingh said. “Now, with the new system we have, you can pick the puck up in stride, you can do a sloppy pick up or go the other way.”

For defensive poke checks, no more will pucks seem to be magnetic towards an offensive player’s stick. Poke checks will not only effect the puck, but a stick can be jarred loose thanks to a properly executed poke check in NHL 16. It’s a small improvement, but will, undoubtedly, go a long way towards making a more precise in-game experience; one that won’t see game-generated mistakes lead to goals in the net.

“When something goes wrong in the game, it’s more a user mistake as opposed to the game making the mistake,” he said. “[It’s] more responsive as well. We really, really focused on the skating, making it fun to play every position, and that you had the right amount of control that you want so that it felt, as a whole, refined.

“All those details lead to smoother skating, smoother gameplay.”