If you believe the conventional wisdom about three being a crowd is incorrect, then the new NHL Threes mode that makes its debut in the NHL 18 beta is worth your attention. As the name suggests, you take the ice with two other skaters to enjoy a faster, more open style of play. The pace, of course, is certainly more arcade than faithful simulation. There are modifiers that affect how many points a goal is worth. Some even punish the opposition by deducting points. So frequent, wild lead changes are to be expected.
Those that prefer to skate with four friends will find that option and other more traditional modes of play available when NHL 18 hits stores shelves in September. And if you want to enjoy the Threes concept outside of a single mode, you are in luck. The EASHL will incorporate Threes into its list of options.
NHL Threes is the most notable new option in the NHL 18 beta. It delivers on its promise of an exciting, arcade style experience. If you need to take a break from the demands of running a multi-year franchise, NHL Three is the perfect escape into a freewheeling world built on offense and little else.
Admittedly, this new mode reminds me of EA’s previous foray into 3-on-3 hockey, Rock the Rink. Released in 2000 for the original Playstation, Rock the Rink was a far more colorful game based on a fictitious league of misfit brawlers. And that title was a call back to another irreverent EA hockey title, Mutant League Hockey for the Genesis. The NHL Threes mode in NHL 18 is nowhere near as out there as those two titles. But if EA is interested in returning to arcade style hockey, I do hope they bring back the mutants.