NHL 17 is out for Xbox One and Playstation 4 today, so maybe it’s a little early to draw an outright consensus.
Plenty of reviews have already surfaced, however, so those waiting with a sweaty finger over the “purchase” button might get a decent idea of what to expect.
In short? Expect what you normally would from an annual sports release: refinement rather than a revolution. At least, that’s what reviews seem to indicate so far.
Destructoid captured much of that spirit:
When compared to NHL 15, NHL 17 is miles ahead; when compared to NHL 16, it’s incrementally better. That’s the EA Sports way. There are some new features and improvements, but nothing mind-blowingly innovative. That’s perfectly fine. There’s a good hockey game at the core, and a lot of options on the periphery. That’s all we ever wanted.
It’s interesting to see that comparison, as Kotaku’s Mike Fahey seems to indicate that this is a year about baby steps as well:
Sometimes the annual installment of a sports game feels like a brand new experience, sometimes it feels like same thing, different year. NHL 17, available for play now on EA Access ahead of next week’s release, is definitely the latter.
(Pro tip: if you have an Xbox One and you’re really sweating the decision, trying it out on EA Access could be a good option. Yes, you’d be out a Netflix-style monthly fee, but their setup would allow you to play around with the game for 10 hours. That should be a fine gauge for whether or not you want to continue selling hot dogs and maybe get around to playing hockey.)
Thumbing through reviews (Metacritic provides Rotten Tomatoes-like listings of reviews if you want to survey them), reactions seem positive though not necessarily emphatic.
It might be the sort of situation where NHL 17 isn’t going to convert people who don’t like the EA style of hockey, but should be solid for addicts. Those who bought NHL 16 shouldn’t expect a huge improvement.
For some, such as US Gamer’s Kat Bailey, that’s a little frustrating:
NHL 17 has some real strengths, but it still feels like it hasn’t quite made it out of the previous generation. The gameplay is strong but increasingly dated; the feature set feels haphazard, and there are lots of niggling quality-of-life issues.
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