They say that three is a magic number. Or at least that one School House Rock song said it. But in the case of NHL 18 and its latest gameplay mode, which just happens to be called “Threes”, it’s never been truer. However, it’s not the only new feature for this year’s incarnation of the beloved hockey game franchise.
The latest expansion team in the NHL, The Las Vegas Golden Knights will be making their digital debut and you’ll even be able to use the team in the expansion draft mode or customize your own team.
The regular passing system has more control than ever. Deke and puck controls have gotten a nice overhaul from last year and you can now use the stick with more ease in defensive situations. One-hand dekes and under the leg passes are now possible. And the AI is now more aware of breakout opportunities and will have the same skills available to them as the player.
The EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL) has a new 3-on-3 mode that they think will get more people playing online since it can be really, really hard to find enough friends to make up two who teams. The team behind NHL’18 hope it will bring a more fast-paced, high-risk/high-reward energy to online games. All-in-All they’re offering up a total of 64 ways to play variations of online, couch co-op and a mixture of the two.
But the real stand-out new feature in NHL’18 is the NBA Jam inspired Threes. Taking place in an arena that’s 75% smaller than a standard one, threes is a welcome oasis of arcade action in a game that’s normally all about being as real as possible. Before you start you’ll be able to choose whether you play standard periods or to a point limit. You can also choose whether you want to have to win by a specific point spread. Players can also play a full campaign mode in Threes and unlock things like jerseys, players, and mascots.
Faceoffs are only at the top of the period and there’s no need to worry about icing or offsides. Penalties are enforced with penalty shots rather than power-plays. And then there’s the money puck which can offer reward in the form of extra points for a goal (+2,+3) or punish poor defense with a loss of points (-2,-3). There are even two all-mascot teams that you can take to the ice. I don’t think I’ve had an arcade experience quite like this one in a long time. The gameplay is so addicting that I didn’t even notice I’d been playing one game for 40 minutes when taking on some fellow journos at the press event.
Overall, NHL’18 is looking to be a good year for the franchise with some very strong top-level gameplay and strategy for hardcore players while offering an open door for a more casual or inexperienced player. Between the multiple co-op gameplay options and the extremely fun and accessible Threes there’s definitely a lot of ways to get your friends in the game with you. Fans will be able to get their hands on NHL’18 for XBox One and PS4 on September 17th (or on Sept.12th if you pre-ordered the Young Stars Edition of the game).