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NHL 18: A Good Franchise Mode Experience Varies From User to User

Year over year, the NHL franchise is the most consistent of all the annual EA Sports products. The series' consistent improvement seems to be set to continue with NHL 18.

I had about four hours of hands-on time with the game at EA's Redwood City headquarters and I came away impressed. I'd already downloaded the beta, so I was familiar with the gameplay and the new 3-on-3 Threes feature, so I spent most of my time thumbing through franchise mode.
 
In NHL 18, players will have an opportunity to take control of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, or even add a 32nd NHL team in a city of their choice.
 
The team creation suite is very good, though not on par with what you see from MLB The Show's Diamond Dynasty tool or NBA 2K's MyLeague and MyGM, but still solid.
 
You're able to choose between a fair number of template logos, sweater designs and almost infinite amount of colors to individualize your new team.
 
Perhaps the coolest part of the team creation process is the option to create your own mascot. It would be nice if you had more options for the type of mascot (animals, people, etc), but as it is, it's fun to create your own hype machine.
 
The expansion draft is another highlight of the process. You have to pick one player from every NHL team, and it's a challenge balancing the benefits of selecting a young player with a slightly lower rating over an older player with high mark.
 
If you plan on playing multiple seasons, investing in the future would appear to be the smartest approach. After the expansion draft, you still get an opportunity to bolster your roster through the NHL Entry Draft, trades and free agency.
 
The bidding process on free agents was entertaining. Players seem to behave a little more realistically in this year's game than in the past. Some players will drive a really hard bargain (I'm looking at you, Steve Mason).
 
Overall, these layers make for an entertaining offseason.
 
If there is an area of the franchise mode that needs work, it's the scouting. Shout out to Game Informer's Matt Bertz for offering some much-needed perspective on this angle.
 
It's a little difficult to navigate the menus, but I still liked the overall evaluation process of the prospects.
 
A few of the journalist on hand for the impression simulated seasons to see how well their teams did in their first year. Some made the postseason and others did not. I liked the variation because not everyone drafted the same players.
 
There were also different injuries in each of those scenarios. Ultimately, a good franchise mode experience varies from user to user. This is what NHL 18 is likely going to deliver.
 
I look forward to getting my hands on the retail version to make a final determination. NHL 18 releases on September 15 for PS4 and box 1.
 
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