EA SPORTS NHL 14 promises to be the most advanced hockey game ever, thanks to a slew of new features headlined by the new “NHL Collision Physics” for bigger and better hitting with true-to-life collisions. Also included in this year’s game is an NHL 94 Anniversary Mode and a new Enforcer Engine. NHL 14 releases on September 10, 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Gaming Illustrated: This is Sean Gibson E3 2013 at the EA Sports booth just playing NHL 14. Could you introduce yourself and your role with the NHL Team?
Gurndeep Sumal: I’m Gurndeep Sumal, Producer on NHL 14.
Gaming Illustrated: I’m just going to go ahead and brag because we were just playing. I was up 5-1. You did do a lot of talking though introducing the game though.
Gurndeep Sumal: Hey, it’s kind of hard to talk and play at the same time you know when you’re trying to give your spiel and you’re playing, you’re not keeping your focus on that’s the reason you’re winning.
Gaming Illustrated: (laughter) Fair enough man! We’ll play again later for a fair rematch. So, I’m definitely seeing some improvements in NHL 14, I hadn’t heard too much coming in to the show. I know a lot of the other titles have stolen the thunder, but for us hockey fans we’re definitely looking for what’s next. Can you introduce some of the highlight features of NHL 14?
Gurndeep Sumal: So NHL 14 is all about big hits, real fights and unbelievable speed and skill, so we made a perfect balanced hockey game to include speed, skill and aggression, and this year we think with our feature set, with our big hits, real fights and are speed and skills that we’ve done at. We’ve done that job.
Gaming Illustrated: Yeah I felt like the game was a lot more fluid. I definitely like the stick handling. You taught me that avoidance capability to counter balance what looks like a really cool new hitting system.
Gurndeep Sumal: Yeah.
Gaming Illustrated: Talk a little bit about what went into that and how gamers think into what the adjustment period might be when getting into it?
Gurndeep Sumal: So with our new collision physics system as you alluded to. We’ve added the FIFA Player Impact Engine into our game, so that allows for consistent hits and consistent checks this year. Also size and strength matter now, so when a bigger player hits a smaller player it’s a lot more impactful, whereas if you check with a small player into a bigger player it’s a lot less likely that the bigger player will actually fall down. And then to balance all that we had the new one-touch deke. The one-touch deke system allows you to quickly evade hits, so it’s a little cat and mouse game within the game itself. A guy coming at you, trying to hit you and you tap the bumper and you try to evade the hits, so it’s a little … it’s a unique game within the game.
Gaming Illustrated: Another new feature was the fighting engine that’s now in there you borrowed from the Fight Night Engine. We had two pretty good fights. They showed a very nice polarized view of what a fight could be. You had a one punch knockout on me I was out on the ice, and then you and I then had an epic battle where I just barely edged you out.
Gurndeep Sumal: Yeah. So our new Enforcer Engine as you alluded to we took from Fight Night. Basically this allows for cleaner punches, more variance in punches and, again, size and strength also factor in. But one of the big things we added also was strategy to the game, as you said, we now have the ability to clinch jostle player and really try to pick your spots and really, really fight the way a real enforcer or a real fighter would actually do in the NHL. And also on top of that it’s very organic now. As we were playing, I laid out one of your players, and one of your players came in to seek a fight, so you’re going to see a lot more realistic situations where fights occur.
Gaming Illustrated: Yeah it was nice to see that situational awareness from the game that if you decide to shoot the puck after the whistle, that’s an opportunity to fight.
Gurndeep Sumal: Yeah exactly like that situation, it’s all about the code of hockey. The game has got a specific code and if you break that code there are repercussions to your actions. Its … you know again like we wanted to make it feel authentic and organic just like we do with everything in our game.
Gaming Illustrated: Now you did confirm beforehand that NHL 14 will be only on Xbox 360 and PS3. Obviously that’s a measured decision not to go next-gen with NHL 14. Speak a little bit to the fans why that decision was made?
Gurndeep Sumal: I don’t have the answer towards that, but I’ll tell you that we are laser-focused on making this game the best it can possibly be be on this generation of console.
Gaming Illustrated: NHL fans were thrilled about the huge generational gap between NHL 13 and NHL 12. I mean, that was a big jump. NHL 14 looks like… not quite as big a jump, but an excellent next step in the right direction. What would you like to say to those fans? Why should they be purchasing NHL 14?
Gurndeep Sumal: As I said we really want to encapsulate the aggression, the speed in the skill of hockey, and I think we did a really good job with the big hits that we have with the collision system with the new Enforcer Engine and the new one touch deke. I think we’ve done a great job of really encapsulating hockey so it feels very authentic and real true to the game.
Gaming Illustrated: All right you’re up for a rematch later?
Gurndeep Sumal: Yes of course.
Gaming Illustrated: All right bud, thank you so much.
Gurndeep Sumal: No worries. Well by the way NHL 14 comes out on September 10th in North America, September 13th in Europe.
Gaming Illustrated: Okay, I got one extra follow up question. We saw FIFA 13 on PC, and I was thinking of the good old days when NHL was on PC … are we ever going to see NHL back on the PC platform?
Gurndeep Sumal: You know, we’re always looking for different platforms … you know we went on the iOS for the first time last year, so we’re always exploring those options, but as of right now like I said before we’re really focused on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
Gaming Illustrated: All right thanks a lot.
Gurndeep Sumal: Yeah, no worries.