In a blog post, EA Sports GM Dean Richards talked about turning to fans and asking them to be involved with the creation of this year's game. "We spent more time listening and working with them this year than ever before," he said. "Their most requested features and modes are in NHL 16 and include new experiences that make NHL bigger and better."
No video or screenshots from the game have been released yet, but its website offers some details on these promised additions, such as the inclusion of 6-versus-6 Online Team Play and online couch co-op play support, as well as enhanced EA Sports Hockey League, Be a GM, and Be a Pro modes.
Online Team Play was among the modes initially absent from NHL 15 that was added through a post-launch patch. However, that version of OTP allowed for only 5-on-5 matches where the goalies were controlled by AI, something that won't have to be the case this year.
EA Sports Hockey League is said to have been "reimagined," offering the chance to pick from "specialized player classes." Be a GM adds in new wrinkles to deal with, such as player personalities, trade demands and relationships between players. Be a Pro, meanwhile, allows you to simulate the game in between your shifts, lets you move from playing in the CHL to the NHL (another key NHL 15 omission), and upgrades your attributes based on the way you play.
Elsewhere, improvements are being made to skating and puck pickups, a new training tool will help players improve their skills, and the presentation is being improved across the board. That comes in the form of more authentic arenas (with team-specific celebrations, chants, mascots and so on), commentary with "more emotion" from Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Ray Ferraro, and playoff beards. NHL 16 promises to have "accurate representations of beard patterns, length, thickness" and, creepily enough, "growth rates."
"In lieu of a proper NHL 16 release on Xbox 360 and PS3, EA will offer something called NHL: Legacy Edition that sounds as if it will primarily serve as a way to play with updated rosters and schedules. "Legacy Edition brings together the most popular modes and award-winning gameplay features from nine years of NHL hockey," explains EA's website. "Featuring updated rosters and authentic schedules, it's the perfect experience for fans looking to get that complete hockey fix on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3."
We'll likely be learning more as we approach E3 next month, but in the meantime, EA has set up a new section of its website where fans can submit questions that will be answered by the game's development team.