Now that the NHL playoffs are in full swing, EA decided it's the perfect time to offer the first details for its next hockey game, NHL 15. As the first game in the series to grace Xbox One and PS4 this fall, much of its features focus on its visuals and physics. For starters, next-gen versions of the game will feature "12 player NHL collision physics" as well as rebuilt puck physics, the former governing all actions by every player on the ice (like when they slam into each other) with "real-world physics."
Additionally, NHL 15 on Xbox One and PS4 will include rebuilt player models that now have three separate layers: the athlete's body, their equipment and their jerseys, with each layer behaving independently. The game will also use the same tech featured in the upcoming EA Sports UFC to deliver NHL 15's player likeness, emotions and animations, and will feature improved arenas and over "9,000 individual crowd models," far surpassing MLB 14: The Show's own character model benchmark. Rounding out the presentation improvements is a new partnership with NBC to replicate its broadcast package and a new commentary team for the game in Mike 'Doc' Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and "ice-level insights" from Ray Ferraro.
Lastly, EA noted two gameplay improvements for the upcoming hockey game in Vision AI and "superstar skill stick." Vision AI improves computer-driven teammates' and opponents' awareness to potential open plays as well as their recognition of score areas and anticipation of passes. The stick skill improvements will bring more puck control to the right joystick, such as an "arsenal of sweet new dekes."
While NHL 15 will also arrive on PS3 and Xbox 360 this fall, the improvements to those versions are minimal by comparison, limited to some boosted collision physics and the new commentary team. EA is conducting a cover athlete vote for the game starting this week, which ends on June 1 with the winner being announced during the 2014 NHL Awards on June 24. Fans can begin voting now on the NHL's website.