Breaking Down: NHL 14 Goalie Improvement Trailer and Blog

On Friday EA Sports released a blog and gameplay trailer of the improvements made to goalies for NHL 14.

Below I’ll break down the blog line by line so I can offer impressions based off of the blogs content.

Ben Ross, Gameplay Producer here. Let’s talk goalies. The addition of independent limb movement  inNHL 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.

It was alright but certainly wasn’t a game changer. In fact the goalies in NHL 13 seem to allow some pretty weak goals on shots that should be saved. Plus the desparation saves are happening too often and hurting the game especially since it leaves the top half of the net exposed on quite a few of them.

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.

This is great to hear, it should make them smarter and tougher to beat.

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.

The goalies were majorly inconsitent in NHL 13, but if the team delivers on this promise than NHL 14 could be a real gem on the ice. EA needs to make this game harder online to, the AI is way too stupid online partly the reason the goal fests are easy to come across. I hate bashing a game, but NHL 13 was incomplete and it needs to be pointed out.

Now we get to a point were it is bullet points.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. Goalies show more urgency in getting back to cover open parts of the net, part of heightened awareness.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

1. That’s great, that should help positioning. 2. The less goals from having pucks squeak through the goalies legs in an unrealistic way the better, especially for peoples blood pressure. 3. This makes sense, and it sounds like a very sound addition. 4. This is also nice to hear, maybe their won’t be as much open net opportunities. 5. I never thought this was really an issue in NHL 13 since deflections were rare. But since they are said to have worked on deflections in NHL 14 this could be a big thing, since I haven’t played the game I can’t comment on this yet. 6. This is great, I think this could be a really good feature to have, but the team needs to make sure that the defense isn’t cruddy if you’re going to do this otherwise this could lead to a little ugliness online that EA doesn’t want.

Animations & Movement

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

1. Good, some of these were too insane for my liking, if my defense sucks bad enough to have this happen, or vise versa than the defending team should be scored on. 2. Good, the goalies go into the butterfly all the time, especially disturbing on break aways. 2. Hopefully this means goalies who are better able to adapt to the shooter on a penalty shot or breakaway. 3. This needs to be seen before I can react to it, it may be good, or being stuck in an animation might hurt the goalies. The limb movement ability might do wonders here.

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.

Hopefully this means the goalie will hack at a players leg or push him in order to get space so he can go looking for the puck. Plus with the goalie being live I’d have no problem getting back at him if he tried that.

Against One-Timers

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

1. Good, the short side goal ticked me off to no end, so if they fixed the goalie giving up the post for easy goals than I would be happier than a pig in crap. 2. This is good to know, however if he doesn’t pass will the goalie still be able to react in time? Will the shot work well? Two things I wonder. 3. This is actually good since the goalie should be doing this because most of the breakaway goals I see are shots that are low and post side. I guess in order to really fix the problem is to avoid giving up breakaways to begin with but I am in love with the full attack style. 4. I am not exactly sure if this is good or bad, we’ll have to wait and see.

  1. 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.
  2. Goalies will recognize low shots better and attempt to kick the rebound to the corner more often.

1. This is good, maybe this will lead to faster cover ups and less scrambling around. 2. This is just fundamentals and it really shows how good the goalies were in NHL 13.

That is all for this piece. We’ll break down more on NHL 14 as it is released in the coming weeks leading up to the release.


Posted on July 9, 2013, in Special Features, Technology, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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