NHL 17 Improvements and Gameplay Additions Showcased in New Video

While sports games are one of those genres that are criticized heavily by non-sports fans for their incremental updates, that might not be the case for this year’s NHL game from EA.

Over on its official EA Sports page, EA listed down a rather robust list of NHL 17 improvements that will hit the ice later this year. You can also check our first proper look at gameplay in the trailer above that features “all-new Net Battles,” new goal celebrations and lots more.

This year we’ve added a new difficulty setting called ‘Semi-Pro’ so that users find an AI opponent that better matches the challenge they are after. We’ve also added new Gameplay Presets which control the Game Style, Period Length, Rules, etc. for specific experiences. This allows us to offer everything from Arcade (3 min periods, no rules, bigger hits) to Full Sim (10 min periods, ultra-realistic gameplay). This has also given us the opportunity to offer up brand new Be a Pro presets which give the best recommendation for Game Style and Gameplay tuning for the length of games users prefer to play. Play anything from Quick Games where you can get through more games in a shorter time period, all the way to full length games where shift lengths are exactly that of a real world NHL player while maintaining realistic statistics.

To give even more control over play styles, we’ve updated Gameplay Sliders from 0-6 to 0-100. This allows users to tweak everything from skating (agility, speed, acceleration) to checking (aggression, hit power, size effect, stumbles) to match their desired play style. If someone wants to play full 20 minute periods with realistic shot totals and goal scoring, the tuning power makes that possible.

NHL 17 Improvements (Gameplay):


  • Updates to Vision Control on offense and defense for improved facing and positioning.
  • Better control over stopping and holding your ground vs pivoting and accelerating in a new direction.
  • Improved ability to step out and accelerate in a new direction if you are traveling at a lower speed.
  • Updates to how a skater gains or loses momentum during carving and cross-over turns.
  • Alignment between skating without the puck, skating while protecting the puck, and stick handling so that turning works the same and feels more consistent. 
  • Loose pucks in the offensive zone are now considered an offensive situation for the purposes of vision control. 
  • Improvements to back skating when holding vision control and accelerating from a stop. This allows you to stay square when you have the puck on the blueline and allows you to face the puck when accelerating from a standstill on defense. 
  • Improved trigger sensitivity for vision control. Various improvements to responsiveness by updating animation blend windows.


  • Faster pass animations for more control and responsiveness.
  • Ability to pass to players and have them stay still and not move into every puck. This will help offensive zone passing when you set up in the zone or if you want to pass D to D during a regroup.
  • Various improvements to pass accuracy and targeting.
  • Improved pickups for close range passing.


  • New shooting context for in-close deke shots. This will help you get the shot you expect when deking to forehand or backhand.
  • Improved five-hole targeting while shooting.

Puck Pickups

  • Addressed situations where seamless pickups were triggering when not desired. Players now can press hustle to get accelerating pickups, press and hold vision control to get pivoting and strafing pickups.
  • Added new backward acceleration pickups so you can get moving backward with the puck as you receive it instead of having to wait until you have possession. This gives you more control at the point when passing D to D.
  • Added more coverage in turning pickups, giving you more control of the angle you want to take so you can pick up the puck without losing momentum.
  • Revised tuning for receiving passes and picking up loose pucks.


  • Added in Blocking vs Reactionary saves.
  • Improved ability to handle weak and long shots or passes on the net.
  • Improved wrap around save/post positioning. 
  • Improved responsiveness and better branching between transitions.
  • Updates to goalie AI for how multiple bodies affect a goaltender vs open sight lines.
  • Improve short side save logic and positioning.


  • Improved hit targeting and tracking.
  • Improved low-speed hits and push checks.
  • Players will now respond to missed hits more realistically. You can now attempt a push check if an opposing player has avoided a shoulder check and is skating past you. 
  • Pucks will now come free earlier when you hit the player away from the puck for better separation.

Interceptions, Deflections, and Stick Contact

  • Even if your skater can’t control a pass (due to passing power, angle, etc.) players will try to bobble the puck in the direction they are skating so that they don’t just leave it behind them if they don’t receive it clean.
  • Defensive deflections won’t stop you from skating where you want and will only trigger if you are trying to glide or hold your ground.
  • Improved control for interception pickups so players will receive pucks cleanly when they are capable.
  • Moderate defensive deflection ability based on skating speed vs control.
  • Various improvements to puck collisions and incidental collisions when jarring a puck loose.


  • Weak-side defenders will do a better job covering the front of the net and when to commit to a puck carrier.
  • Improved AI fatigue so it is consistent with human players.
  • More control over AI penalty logic with gameplay sliders.
  • Tuned AI’s recognition of pass lanes to prevent them from making risky passes when there isn’t a great scoring opportunity. 
  • Factor in power up time for AI passing – incorporates awareness, power up time, offensive awareness, passing attributes, and skill level. This makes them feel more human when passing.
  • Updated logic for how the AI uses vision control on both offense and defense for better positioning and gap control.
  • Revised logic for where the AI will send the puck when being pinned to the boards so they are making less risky plays on defense and looking for the advantage on offense.
  • Better AI puck support if a human player gets pinned in board play.
  • Revised logic for AI puck retrieval on dump ins and pucks deep in their zone.
  • Better back-checking assignment.
  • Additional AI logic for line changes based on time left on the clock.
  • Updates to AI pass decisions so they pass less into traffic when there isn’t a scoring opportunity.
  • Updates to AI decision-making with the puck both on the rush and in the zone.
  • Various changes to AI decision-making on breakouts both with and without the puck.
  • Revised AI faceoff logic by difficulty level. 

I’m not a big hockey fan like our own Cameron Teague, but man, that’s a lot of improvements, no? You can check out the additions and improvements to NHL 17 yourself when it’s released on September 13.

[Source: EA Sports]