By: Matthew Rondina
Rejoice virtual hockey fans, the NHL 19 open beta has arrived!
WGN is here to breakdown all the new modes and mechanics the beta brings to the rink. Lace up those skates and get ready for a deep dive that will have you ready for NHL 19’s opening night come September.
The New Modes
The beta branches off into two main selections, The World of Chel and Online Play.
The World of Chel offers 3 different modes to check out; NHL Threes, Ones and EASHL Club.
This introduces a unified progression and customization system for created players. EA promised deep customization to a player’s appearance and if the beta is a good indicator, NHL 19 delivers. The hundreds of customizations you can make to your player’s wardrobe from hoodies, jackets, parkas, and knits is absolutely massive.
As you continue your career even more options become available via hockey bags which drop randomized loot for your player.
Many veterans returning from NHL 18 will recognize NHL Threes, as it makes it’s return from last year. If you play Threes in the beta you will be paired up with two other online players and face off against 3 other players. Just like last year this is a 3v3 arcade based experience that is a quick, fun, hockey fix.
The newest mode, NHL Ones, offers up pond hockey style fun with 1v1v1 half ice play. It’s every player for themselves as you vie for the puck and look for a chance to slip it past the keeper. The mode has no rules, you just need to rack up the most goals before time expires and you are crowned the winner. In the event of a tie, you face off against one or all opponents in a sudden death overtime, it’s pretty exciting stuff!
Ones is a great way to sharpen your skills against randoms without the hassle of pulling together a reliable squad for EASHL. It’s a fun, fast way to test out and further develop your hockey skills against human opponents.
Real Player Motion (RPM) Skating Mechanics
Based on my time with the beta, the RPM skating system is delivering on it’s promises, which has helped improve all of NHL 19’s game modes. There is greater fluidity in player movement that is more true to life, and skaters can now stop on a dime and shift the play faster than ever before.
The “explosive-edge skating” does allow for more control and creatively on the ice as players have far more directional options available to them. The new skating is fast, responsive and a real game changer for the series.
Player attributes also factor into skating, bigger skaters don’t move as fast as smaller ones, or make cuts the same way. This is a big change to the gameplay and something that deserves your attention, especially if you are looking at the pro side of chel. Bigger players like Dustin Byfuglien will need to use their size to cancel out the speed advantage of smaller players by using their physicality.
The beta and the final full version of NHL 19 will surely feature some tweaks but there are a few key take aways from the beta. When it comes to scoring I still find that the one timer slap shot still delivers the most consistent way to score. There is undeniably more creative ways to score with the new RPM skating but the one timer is still key in clutch situations, keep this in mind.
Avoid the Box
Another play mechanic that has changed is the poke check which now needs to be used with perfect timing or it could result in a penalty. I found that when I poke checked anywhere to the side or behind the opposing player it would result in a tripping call. This could change in the final version of the game, but beware going forward, poke check from straight on or just before your opponent makes contact with the puck.
The NHL 19 beta weighs in at just over 22GB and is available now on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 platforms until August 2nd. The full game is available worldwide September 14, 2018 for Xbox One and PS4.
esports Hardware Edge – Turtle Beach Stealth 300 Headset
Hit the ice with a headset that will fully immerse you in the hockey experience.
My “ears on” time with the Turtle Beach Stealth 300 offered great surround sound with large 50mm speakers that pulled me into the game. The roar of the crowd, calls for the puck and every crushing hit came through with crystal clear clarity and deep bass.
The Bass Boost offered another great on ice advantage as the enhanced bass let me hear the deep cut of opponents’ skates coming from off screen.
For those gamers that stream, the high-sensitivity mic ensures your audience hears you loud and clear. The Stealth 300 makes a great addition to any gamer’s arsenal with hassle free set up and flawless audio input and output.
About the Author: Matthew Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Follow Matthew’s gaming adventures on twitter and join in on the fun!