The introduction of True Performance Skating, the piece de resistance in NHL 13, affected so many things than just the act of skating itself. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have to change many aspects of how you play the game — mostly, rooting out all the rather unrealistic bad habits you’ve picked up in year’s past. For those who are struggling to grasp the nuances of the new system, here are a few tips on how to be a better player with NHL 13’s new skating engine.
Go full speed at your own peril in NHL 13. With True Performance Skating, the faster you go, the longer it takes your player to brake, and the wider his turning radius. What this means is that, unlike in previous years, you can’t just change directions on a dime. This is the aspect that unleashes the biggest ripple effects on the rest of gameplay — you can’t play helter skelter anymore. Instead, you need to act and, more importantly, react.
So what do you do? You glide for a few seconds.
Having accelerated close enough to stop speed, ease off for a second and let your player glide. Then nudge a little on the left stick to take another stride or two. Your player will still be quick enough to fend off his pursuers for a few moments, and agile enough to turn if he needs to.
Yes, it’s true that in previous years if you slow down for even a nanosecond your opponent will swoop in and and steal the puck, but feel free to set aside that fear for NHL 13. Because just like you, everybody else on the ice needs time to change directions, so if you skate in a more controlled pace, you can actually evade those going at full speed with a quick turn. Which leads me to my next point.
Use the Opponent’s Momentum Against Himself
Getting blitzed by a three-man forecheck? Stay calm. Figure out which direction they’re coming in, and play the puck in the opposite direction. For example, if you have the puck in the corner of your own zone and two opposing players are locking on to your player from one side, simply reverse it around the endboards and to the opposite side to evade them. With the improved teammate AI this year, there’s a good chance that your winger will be parked at the boards to receive that reverse pass.
You can use this concept to your advantage in the offensive zone too, especially during odd-man rushes. When you’re gaining the zone, build up a head of steam, glide for a few strides. With subtle nudges on the left stick, try to get the backskating defender (who can’t skate or turn as fast as your player) leaning one way, then quickly change speeds and burst in the direction. Or if the defender backs up too much, let ‘er rip.
Don’t brake, circle
Going along with the theme of momentum, in most cases where you need to change directions 180 degrees, don't brake and start again. Instead, you save more time by simply turning in a circle, where you don't lose all your moment and need to accelerate all over again.
When in doubt, shoot
One addition in the new skating engine is the ability to lose the puck if you’re trying to deke at too high a speed. So deke at your own peril on a breakaway or in an odd-man rush.If you go in too fast, you may lose the puck; and too cautious, the backchecker will recover in time. When in doubt, just shoot the puck. This is especially true in 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. The first reason is that it’s more difficult in this year’s game to accurately aim a cross ice pass to a streaking teammate; and the second reason is that now, more than ever, you can use the backskating defender as a screen to the goalie. Try cutting in diagonally on the rush and, when you going to the middle part of the ice, go top shelf. You may be pleasantly surprised at how often it works.
This also applies to point play too. In this year’s game, if an opposing forward strips the puck off your point man, you’re pretty much hosed as chances are neither of your defensemen will recover in time to catch up. So if you get an open lane, let it rip, or if it’s not there, just dump it deep along the sideboards.
Stay between your man and the net
And you thought it was risky going for the big hit last year?
The theme of staying in control is nowhere more evident than on the defensive end, where, if you make the wrong decision with one of your defenseman, you leave yourself exposed and outnumbered in the most dangerous part of the ice. So the trick? Stay between the puck carrier and the net, and make him make the first move. Ideally you want to steer him outside (away from the net), as his shooting angle is worse and he gets less real estate to work with because of the proximity of the boards. Whichever way he goes, once he makes his move, that’s when you have a chance to turn with him and either make a hit or poke the puck off his stick.
It goes without saying that you should be skating backwards when the opposing player carries the puck into the zone (and only turn if he’s going by you). One of the harder parts of defending this year is controlling how much space to leave between yourself and the puck carrier. Too much and the attacker can shoot unimpeded, while you serve to only screen your own goalie. Leave too little space too early and he will have plenty of space to go around you. In these situations, the gliding-and-striding, nudging-on-the-left-stick technique comes in very handy, as you can constantly adjust your speed. Also, instead of just skating backwards in a straight line, you can make continuous, zig-zag strides to help keep your player’s feet moving without going too far back too quickly.
Anyway, whichever way the attacker goes, make sure he’s not quick enough to simply just go around you and head towards the net. If he is, fear not, you have a one last resort:
The Hustle Button
This year, by pressing down L3 (left stick on 360), you can give your player an extra jolt of skating speed at the expense of increased stamina decrease. If you’re in a situation where you absolutely need that burst, don’t be stingy and use it. The aforementioned scenario (where the attacker is looking like he’ll go around your defender) is a good example, as is chasing for an iced puck, or when an opposing defenseman is catching up to you on a breakaway. Some have observed that the CPU players seem to be nerfed at certain moments when they’re chasing a puck, it could, though, be just as possible that they’re using the hustle button effectively.
Sound off, OSers! What are your tips to taking advantage of NHL 13's True Performance Skating?