War Never Changes... And Neither Do Sports Games.

Well, would you look at this. I am angry once more. I should probably get help, I'm angry too often. Unlike my usual anger which spawns from getting my shirt caught on a doorknob or seeing somebody post something stupid on twitter, this is warranted.


Every year since roughly 2014 sports games have been under fire for not changing anything up. While true to an extent, there's usually enough to keep my anger at bay. This year? Not so much. The only difference between NBA 2k19 and 2k20 is the insane amount of bugs, a roster update, and a "New" MyCareer story. Madden 20 is the only one that actually feels different, and I think that's only because Madden 19 was an absolute tire fire of a video game. The only direction was up, so a light pat on the back for that one EA.


The main reason for me writing this article however, is NHL 20. I feel as though the NHL series has been one of the more solid EA entries, with plenty of fresh additions coming each year. NHL 15 was a legitimate overhaul to the game because of the new console. So that was really nice, great graphics, great physics. Each year since there has been some total overhauls to certain mechanics to make the game play a lot better than the last. This year is an absolute joke. Let's talk about what did change.


Signature shots! This sounds cool, but it's executed poorly. There are roughly twenty "different" shot styles that're supposed to be modeled after NHL superstars so that players feel different. They all are virtually the same, and borderline impossible to notice in a full speed game.


Contextual shot animations! Well, shooting hasn't changed much since NHL 14. It's pretty solid overall, but there is some left to be desired. We've all been in a situation where the shot animation triggered totally robs us of a goal. This has changed a bit, which is nice, but it still happens from time to time.


Goalie AI changes! The goalies have been insanely awful in the last few years. Giving up some terrible goals that shouldn't even seem to go in. Don't worry, that hasn't changed. Goalies still flop around in the crease until they eventually kick the puck in. There are a few animations that make it happen less, but it's still not enough. On top of that, some animations they get are just unrealistic and awful. Rebounds and deflections are a huge part of hockey. They're borderline nonexistent in this game.


Puck pickups! This is one thing that I do think was done better than years past. Seamless puck pickups were the big advertisement a few years back and it was absolutely awful. They made it so you can actually pick up the puck while in stride in this game and that's pretty nice.


A change in presentation! What an awful move. EA decided to throw away the best commentator in all of sports for some no name from Vancouver and Ray Ferraro. James Cybulski is his name, and it's tragic. The excitement and electricity that you get from Doc Emrick is just non existent. It sounds like two guys calling a high school hockey game and they just don't give a rats ass. They also moved the scoreboard to the bottom of the screen, which just doesn't feel right. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. All they did was break it.


A "Battle Royale" mode! EA decided to try to catch peoples eye with the words "Battle Royale" where you play several rounds of ones games surviving only if you finish first, until you reach the final game. This is also commonly known as a fucking tournament. The mode itself is cool, but EA's attempt at grabbing peoples attention is pitiful.


There's a few more changes that I'll list here because I'm not going to describe every single change. More World of Chel customization, HUT squad battles, new HUT card animations, a few new outdoor venues for World of Chel, The coaching carousel (actually a nice change, we've wanted this in every sports game since NCAA 14), A new line chemistry system, A trade finder for Franchise mode (also a nice touch, need this in all sports games).


What didn't change that needs to? Player ratings work the same, the difference between a 78 overall and a 90 overall player is only felt in shooting.


Player faces, they have the important players, but there are still so many players that are mid tier that just have a generic look to them. 2k sucks shit but at least they do a facial scan on almost every single player. Madden and Fifa fall under the same boat on this one.


AI! We neeeeeed better AI. Be a Pro is one of my most played modes and it's just a bus wreck. Players can't pass, they still score on their own nets, they still run into their own players and look like a bunch of fools. It just needs to feel more realistic.


Fighting! For god's sake, we need a change here. The fights are stiff, the animations are all the same. Every single fight feels the exact same and it's not even remotely enjoyable. Not to mention you can't opt out of a fight. You lay a big clean hit on a guy and BOOM! You're fighting a guy and in the box for five minutes. Don't get me wrong, I get that people jump other players in real hockey, but it should always give the option. There's no situational awareness to these fights. It can be OT in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final and you get jumped for hitting a dude and end up in the box. It needs to change.


There's so much that needs to be worked on and they choose to change stuff that ultimately didn't need fixing. There are some decent changes but it is almost the exact same game that came out a year ago and it's unacceptable. I think I'm so worked up because several games did it this year. It would be one thing if just one of them was like this, but now I won't buy NHL 20 or NBA 2k20 because I'm not spending 120 dollars on NHL 19 and NBA 2k19. It's disrespectful to fans, we deserve enough change to make purchasing the game worth it, and we didn't get that from at least two series. Fifa will most likely be in the same boat. Something has gotta change with these games, and with people still spending their money I just don't see it happening.



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2019 by Anthony Terrano