Having said that, I've once again spent the bulk of my time playing World of Chel. That's because my favorite mode, offline Be a Pro, hasn't changed since NHL 19 (and it's not like EA Vancouver gave the mode much love last year, mind you). I understand the realities of making these multifaceted games on an annual schedule — resources are limited, and it's simply not possible for the developers to overhaul everything every year. However, Be a Pro has been sidelined for ages, and it looks even more stale in light of the experimentation we've seen recently in single-player career modes from Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K.
These are the kinds of upgrades you expect if you follow an annualized sports franchise. Yet I feel more impressed at the fact that EA Vancouver was able to build an online suite for NHL 19 that didn't just draw me in with the shiny trinket of outdoor play, but kept me going despite the frustrations that are sometimes inherent to online gaming.
Every piece of Videoball feels crafted for competition, and even when I was getting whipped by the game's AI opponents, it was a joy to play. With the pinpoint control and endless playability of the best arcade sports experiences, the small team at Action Button Entertainment has invented something wonderful and new in Videoball.
Minecraft: Story Mode doesn't deviate from the well-established Telltale formula much, keeping both what works (the storytelling) and what often doesn't work (combat). Even so, it accomplishes something impressive. I was skeptical of Telltale's ability to tell a story in the Minecraft universe that would be interesting to people who weren't already fans of the game, but so far, the studio is pulling it off with aplomb.
Outside of the fantastic in-game trainer — which, it's worth noting, is similar to what's available in EA's other sports games this year — and the revamped EA Sports Hockey League, NHL 16's updates are incremental. The issues I saw are uncharacteristic of the high EA reached on the previous consoles, and as the series is finding its footing in the new generation, NHL 16 doesn't quite reach that bar.