NHL 14 continues EA Canada's strive to improve many on and off-ice features of the NHL franchise. Not only have notable features introduced in NHL 13, such as True Performance Skating and GM Connected, become more refined, but NHL 14 also includes several new features like the Enforcer Engine, One Touch Dekes, and NHL Collision Physics.
True Performance Skating
The new skating engine from NHL 13 has been tweaked to improve its fluidity and responsiveness. To help improve defensive play, tweaks to lateral strafing now make it easy to move laterally across the ice while keeping an eye on the puck carrier, as opposed to simply staring straight down the rink as in previous NHL titles. This allows defenders greater opportunities to harass forwards with stick and body checks to break up plays and regain control of the puck.
Other aspects of skating have been reworked to make it more balanced and realistic. Quicker, more responsive pivots allow both defensive and offensive players to react and adapt more easily to the situation on the ice. Also, taking momentum and speed into account, player turning has been tuned to create sharper turns and faster cuts. Lastly, the 45 degree cuts from NHL 13 has been further improved so that there is no longer a delay between movements, so cuts can now be linked together.
One Touch Dekes
A more intuitive deking system has been implemented to create more dynamic skating maneuvers. Alongside the manual dekes of past NHL games, NHL 14 adds One Touch Dekes, which allow players to skate around their opponents at the touch of just one button. By holding the deke button and then moving the control stick in the direction of choice the player will deke in that direction. Chaining dekes together is now easier than ever before, making it less of a struggle to learn than the often complicated button and stick combinations of the manual dekes. Just like manual dekes, however, a player's one touch deking ability will depend on their skill attributes, so player's with low deking skill will have less chance of pulling off smooth, controlled dekes.
NHL Collision Physics
Using FIFA's Player Impact technology, the hitting physics in the NHL franchise have been made more authentic using new ragdoll physics. Players can more easily adjust to the situation and deliver more accurate hits based on the size, speed, and strength of the players, and the player being hit will react more realistically.
An all-new fighting engine has been introduced in NHL 14 that creates the most authentic on-ice fighting experience in the franchise to date. Powered by Fight Night technology, the system makes fights more entertaining and true to actual hockey. From a new third-person viewpoint, the camera focuses on the two combatants, and the other on-ice and bench players no longer disappear once a fight starts. The other players on the ice, depending on their play style and attributes, will either patiently watch the tussle or even start pairing off together, while the players on the bench might stand up to cheer on their teammate. The officials will also play a part in the action.
The actual fighting mechanics are similar to previous installments, letting players throw punches, tug on jerseys to throw players off balance, and dodge. The size, strength, and fighting ability of each player is taken into account when dealing damage and their ability to take it. Players also take real-time fight damage during their scuffles, such as black eyes, that will be present throughout the game. Once a fight is over, players can celebrate their victory with user-celebrations to let the crowd and opponents know who's in charge.
Rather than having to manually initiate each fight, fights can now be started in the heat of the moment in the game, such as after a big hit on a star player. In such a situation, an enforcer might come after the hitter and try to give him pay back.
Many changes have been made to NHL 13's GM Connected mode to improve its ease of use. Among them, the menu interface is now more intuitive and faster to use. Several tools, such as a readable schedule, allows GMs to view the played games, rather than having to rely on the messaging system to check. The messaging system itself now allows cross-GM messages, and messages to the commissioner.
There is now also a period before the league begins to allow GMs to make trades before the first game.
Live the Life
Previously known as Be a Pro, Live the Life makes the journey toward a successful NHL career even more in-depth with new on and off-ice improvements and features, such as press interviews.
NHL 94 Anniversary Mode
NHL 14 will feature a "throwback" mode to NHL 94. The game will feature current generation graphics, but will play in a much more arcade fashion similar to NHL 94. Offsides and icing will automatically be turned off. This mode will also have the ice colored blue, again a throwback to '94.
Lastly, this mode will feature several players from the classic 1994 game as well, including Jeremy Roenick. However, the mode is only available for local co-op.