The usual suspects of annualized EA Sports all have one thing in common this year: they’re all powered by Real Player Motion, the physics engine that FIFA introduced to the world in 2017. Evidently impressed by the final product, EA Sports now uses it to power Madden NFL, NBA Live, and NHL 19. In the rink, it’s being used to deliver some unbelievably good hits.
After going hands-on with NHL 19, we were impressed how much RPM changed things on a fundamental level. Veteran NHL players will immediately feel a big difference in how players change direction, alter the radius of their turns, and deke around defense. Of course, hockey also delivers hits – and lots of them. The RPM engine behind NHL 19 allows for the game to generate more points of contact, and gamers will see players anticipate and follow through with their hits regardless of which side they’re on. There’s no more random ragdoll physics – size, strength, and direction are all calculated so that every hit looks and feels unique and realistic.
The momentum on the ice feels also much more natural, and so do the way that players move in general – and that’s because creative director William HO made sure the dev team did their homework when it came to motion capture:
We have a number of archetypal players that we wanted our motion capture talent to emulate. Obviously Connor McDavid is one of the skaters in the league, right? We also refer to skaters like Patrick Kane or Matt Barzal, who is one of the new best skaters in the league. We also wanted to branch out from there and go ‘How do we get bigger guys?’, right? What would Dustin Byfuglien look like, what about Zdeno Chára? We have that variety of animations that we feel covers all 700+ NHL players.
The RPM system means players will have a smoother time with base gameplay, and Ho promises that the prior game’s issue with puck pick-ups has been completely addressed. They’ve also fine-tuned player switching, which now has a manual options so players can quickly switch to who they want in a heartbeat – a great tool for those who anticipate a better way to smear that sniper across the boards before he can get a shot away.
After spending a few hours watching players get absolutely wrecked, we walked away impressed with how true William’s word rang: every hit felt realistic, and the subtle action of players bracing for impact added a lot of authenticity to the gameplay. It’s a visceral experience: if enjoying the hits in NHL 19 so much is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
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 less of a hit.