After a disappointing showing from the usually-great NHL series last year, which featured stripped down modes and an especially poor version of the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, EA Sports has come up with a solution that looks to please everyone: It will release two completely different NHL games this year.
NHL 16, the offering for new-gen systems, aims to bring the series back to its usual acclaim with the return of several features that were missing in action from last year’s release. “Be a GM” mode sees the return of manual drafting, and “Be a Pro” includes the option to simulate games until your player’s next shift, a feature which had also become a staple in the Madden series. “For the first time ever,” the NHL series will also include team mascots, but whether or not you can make them fight each other remains to be seen.
Related: NHL 15 review
If you’re looking for even more in-depth information about NHL 16, EA has also opened an “Ask NHL” portal, where developers are answering submitted questions on everything from the length of the game’s development cycle to the chance of a PC port (there are no immediate plans).
But even though NHL 16 is only coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners will be able to get their hands on NHL Legacy Edition. Legacy Edition includes many of the same features as its big sibling, including “Be a Pro,” but it also brings with it the return of “NHL 94 Anniversary Mode,” featuring simple controls and a “retro presentation.” The game arrives this September alongside NHL 16.
While making NHL 16 a new-gen exclusive will certainly help it make better use of the consoles’ power, it’s hard not to compare this decision to last year’s Assassin’s Creed fiasco, where Ubisoft released two underwhelming games following 2013’s stellar Black Flag. Of course, only time will tell if the split development hurts or helps the series, and with only four months to go until the two games launch, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.