Ben Ross, Gameplay Producer here. Let’s talk goalies. The addition of independent limb movement in NHL 13 was a major step forward for the franchise, as it utilized some of the best animation technology in the gaming industry to create reactive and adaptive goaltenders, but there was still room for improvement.
Last year with EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q., goalies were aware of multiple threats on the ice. In NHL 14, they are now aware of additional factors, such as the scoring situation and if a player is on his forehand or backhand. This extra info makes goalies even more dynamic and allows for more authentic goal scoring opportunities.
We know you want more realistic and consistent goalies, so that’s what we’re delivering in NHL 14. You’ll find goalies that make the saves you’d expect them to make, but occasionally blow your mind with an unbelievable (but always realistic) save. No more “Spider-Man” goalies.
Here’s a look at how goalies have been improved in NHL 14:
- Goalies intelligence was improved to increase their ability to read the play and determine if the player is likely to deke, pass or shoot based on the scoring situation.
- Goalies will stay out and challenge on shots rather than pulling the puck back in with them (also fixes the issue where goalies would pull slower shots in with them as they moved backwards when saving.)
- Goalies will stay in a save/position if they are aware they are going to be hit by the puck that is on its way. The goalie will no longer blend to another save if not necessary which was sometimes a disadvantage.
- Goalies show more urgency in getting back to cover open parts of the net, part of heightened awareness.
- Goalies react more realistically to deflections based upon whether they can see the initial shot cleanly or if they need to square up and make a save with one of their limbs.
- Goalies will react more realistically to shot fakes, opening up areas of the net and creating more goal-scoring possibilities if the move is used correctly.
Animations & Movement
- Fixed saves where it appeared that the goalie was able to move back up against their momentum/gravity when making a save (again, no more “Spider-Man” Goalies).
- Improved butterfly save space – goalie won’t be locked in butterfly on dekes and will be more conscious of moves to the forehand and consider them more dangerous.
- Added more saves out of Vertical-Horizontal and Butterfly styles so that the goalie can stay in those poses and react to pucks that are going to hit them (makes staying big and cutting off an angle more effective).
Fighting Through Screens
- Goalies’ field of vision and puck awareness were corrected to be more realistic. If a puck is out of sight, the goaltender will work harder to fight through screens.
- Goalies won’t give up the short side if they have defensive help and are more likely to cheat to the short side if the attacking player is on their forehand. True to real-life.
- Goalies will anticipate a pass on a two-on-one if the puck carrier is on their backhand or doesn’t put themselves in a good shooting position (winding back, gliding, sells shot).
- The closer the shooter is to the net, goalies will try to take away more of the bottom of the net. The further out shooters are, the more they try to get a limb half way up the net to be able to move up/down since the shooter now has a better chance to get height on the shot. The negative to this is exposing more holes and not creating as good of a solid wall like they can when the shooter is close.
- The more a goalie has to move and the less he can see the puck both have effects on his ability to make a direct save compared to when they are squared up for a shot and reading the release right off the stick. In these cases, the goalie will try to slide across and take away the shooters best chance and then react to the puck once they can see it.
- AI & animation improvements were made to allow goalies to better handle rebounds and second-chance opportunities off the rush. Goalies can now recover more quickly to handle a bad rebound, especially if they lose the puck within their body/equipment.
- Goalies will recognize low shots better and attempt to kick the rebound to the corner more often.
Learn more about all the other improvements and inclusions being made to NHL 14.