NHL 19 creative director William Ho is pretty excited about the game’s Franchise Mode. He admits that it’s flown a bit under the radar as ‘Chel approaches release, but that doesn’t mean EA Sports hasn’t been working on new features: this year the scouting system got a complete overhaul, and William thinks the mode is deep enough to be its own independent game:
We’ve added a whole new overhaul of scouting. It’s really, really deep. The short story on this is that it could actually be it’s own hockey management sim – it’s that deep!
Franchise Mode now has something called Fog Of War, which is EA’s term for hidden player stats that are only revealed by in-depth scouting. Players won’t be able to cheat and see the attributes of anyone outside of their own team, so players will have to utilize the brand new scouting system if they want to find the best players.
To do this, players will manage an entire roster of professional and amateur scouts for their team. They’ll need to be assigned to different territories around the world, given their own budgets, and have their travel time managed. Any day that scouts spend in the air is a day they’re not scouting players, and those minute differences can form a butterfly effect that can lead to your rivals signing a player before you’ve had a chance to fully scout them.
Beyond this, even scouts have different skill ratings which range from A+ to E, and each scout has certain regions they’re already familiar with. Assigning them to these regions will increase their evaluation abilities (of which there are many), lending another layer of strategy to scouting. In a similar vein, having the same scout repeatedly look at the same player will decrease the time it takes to evaluate them, while increasing scouting accuracy.
Scouts can be assigned with various metrics likes different leagues or particular attributes. Some scouts will be better at checking things like skating talent and puck skills, while other scouts will be more accurate at evaluating physical attributes and reflexes. As players spend time watching players on the ice, more knowledge about their statistics become available.
With the new scouting system, players will have to balance not only how to proportion the overall budget for their scouting effort, but also come up with a system of knowing what to even scout for when it comes to their roster composition.
What you get are these really details scouting reports for you to make really intelligent decisions for you to make about who you want to go after, who you want to draft, who you want to trade for, who you want to sign.
Just like in real life, scouting is a time-sensitive matter: a player scouted at the beginning and end of the season could have some pretty drastically different statistics. That’s why repeated scouting is important, and it’s the only way to get absolutely accurate reports regarding their skill ratings.
Given how important drafts are to NHL, the idea of a complete overhaul to the scouting system should make Franchise Mode a lot more fun for those who play it every year. It’s a touch of realism that games like FIFA have had for some time, and should prove to be a welcome challenge for fans of Franchise Mode.
NHL 19 will release on September 14, 2018 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
You can find John on Twitter at @Makelevi, where he’s usually scouting out what to eat for lunch.