|System: PS4, Xbox One|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Pub: EA Sports|
|Release: September 15, 2017|
|Players: 1-12 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Violence|
Hockey Ultimate Team, or HUT, is the NHL 18 mode that will see the heaviest action from the community. This beefy mode blends many modern gaming features, such collectible card trading, synergy buffs, challenges, and EA tracked seasons for ladder climbing. Along with the Draft Challenge rewards carrying into HUT, it has all the elements to keep players hopping back to their personalized hub to check for new rewards and tweak their collection, along with playing hockey, of course.
There are few improvements in the graphics department from recent entries. NHL 18 has accurate character models, a wide range of spectator animations, and fairly smooth motions on the ice. There’s still a bit of choppiness in the transitions between actions, which is more noticeable during zoomed-in replays, but overall the movements feel authentic.
NHL 18 sounds pretty close to the real thing as well. Sticks clack together, pucks ping off crossbars, and skates shave through the rink. The only effect that could use a boost is the checking, which sounds too light and far away from the mic. The confined arenas also do a great job reverberating goal horns and echoing the crowd cheers and boos. The music selection for the menus is also perfect for the hockey setting. The rock and synthpop tracks from bands such as The Kooks and Future Islands make you want to grab a stick and knock out “We Will Rock You” on the boards and glass. NBC Sports’ mainstay commentators Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk do a fine job calling the game, but I think we’re ready for them to pass the mic to some fresh voices.
NHL 18 delivers the gameplay improvements, renewed rosters, and added content that are the expected additions in an annually updated EA Sports game. Not every mode fits comfortably in the menu screen, but there’s enough variety to satisfy gamers who like to control every inch of their season and those who prefer a quick thrill.
Senior Contributing Writer