I've been playing the NHL series about as long as I've been playing games and it's an important series to me as I'm quite a hockey fan having played the sport for many years. This year is all about once again reclaiming the level of content that was available last generation and they've basically all caught up at this point. It's just odd that in comparison to a decade ago they're at par with what was available then, but let's dig into it. Significant changes this year include The World Cup of hockey returning, a focus on new animations whether that's around the net or when goals are scored and other various improvements.
For the World Cup you're able to pick any of the teams and play the tournament at Toronto mostly capturing the event aside from NBC announcers which is strange. Other new modes this year include Draft Kings where you get to build a team from the draft. GM mode has also been expanded on with the new custom settings for arenas which are quite in-depth. Though I will mention that editing arenas isn't new as it was featured many NHLs ago. Other than those everything is about the same as the last year with minor improvements to each of them and EASHL is also back in full swing for those that like to play together.
Visually the game really doesn't look that much improved over last year with only minor enhancements. The new animations do add a bit more life into the game as goalies now move around with realism pulling off some great looking saves and the new set of celebrations were awesome, yet a bit ridiculous as well at times. The new battle for the front of the net was great seeing there was more clustering there and that players actually battled for positioning. Cutscenes are still really rough for the game with players looking odd, their jerseys acting like capes and it feeling very floaty. I still also felt that the AI wasn't any smarter in regards to moving into proper positioning on the attack and that players seemed less likely to support me during face-off battles. Enemy AI however is just as smart and cunning in the previous entries, this is balanced slightly by the introduction of a new easier mode that lands before pro. If you liked the visual trainer that's back just as before, though I think it's silly so always instantly remove it.
NHL 17 is a solid return to form for the series finally adding back many of the features that were removed at the start of the generation, but it never does anything to take strides forward. It's very much a great take on hockey being the best we've been given on current generation consoles, I'm just expecting them to do something different to innovate and add more life into it. For those that love hockey it's great featuring many modes, refined gameplay and many more fun elements. The customization options while nothing new are largely expanded on and it's great to finally have arena customization in such an in-depth design once more. I'm sure that past players will find this version to be the definite take on hockey for the generation and hopefully next year they come out with something different that takes this series back to the elite level.
Review Done on NHL 17 for Xbox One