Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid to headline ‘NHL 18’

Twenty-year-old Edmonton Oilers phenom Connor McDavid will grace the cover of Electronic Arts’ NHL 18, following in the footsteps of last year’s cover model, Vladimir Tarasenko. This year’s game, which comes with a host of new features as well as the just-formed Vegas Golden Knights team, looks like it will give players more control than ever before.

NHL 18 is all about capturing everything that’s great about the new NHL,” said lead producer Sean Ramjagsingh in the official announcement. Creative Attack controls let our players show off all of the skill and highlight-reel moves they can imagine, while NHL Threes brings the speed and excitement of three-on-three hockey to the game.”

Creative Attack is a new system that allows players to perform new between-the-legs dekes and other crafty moves, while Defensive Skill Stick gives defenders more tools for poking the puck away and close up gaps. It appears to be a similar change to that of this year’s NBA Live 18, which uses the analog stick to perform tricky dribbles and fake-outs.

NHL Threes, meanwhile, looks like it was designed with Midway’s NHL Hitz players in mind, with Electronic Arts promising “fast gameplay, bigger hits, and high-scoring action,” and with both local and online cooperative multiplayer.

Wednesday night was the NHL’s expansion draft, which saw 30 players leave their teams to join the Golden Knights, and this will be included in NHL 18 as well, in the game’s franchise mode. Perhaps players can choose to spare Marc-Andre Fleury from the horror of having to leave back-to-back his Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins.

Electronic Arts seems to be committed to making significant changes to its sports franchises this year. In addition to the new features in NBA Live 18 and NHL 18, a story mode will be coming to this year’s Madden NFL 18. The mode tells a coming-of-age story and features performances by Friday Night Lights‘ Scott Porter and Oscar-winning Moonlight actor Mahershala Ali. While it doesn’t appear that anything like that is planned for the NHL franchise, we’d love to see the story of a young foreign superstar adapting to life in the United States as he works his way toward the Stanley Cup — consider it, EA!

NHL 18 is out on September 15 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It will be available early to EA Access members on September 7.

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