In the first few weeks since the release of NHL 18, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing Hockey Ultimate Team, or HUT, as it’s commonly referred. I’ve dropped about $300 doing the thing veterans know they shouldn’t do; buying packs. I have some great players, and I’ve won some games. I’ve also lost some games. In fact, I lost 11 straight in the HUT Competitive Seasons, which bugged me, but was never cause for me to quit. Today, though, EA Canada introduced new Evolution players, and I decided that I need to at least tone down my time in HUT, or possibly just leave it completely.
Why I Might Stop Playing HUT
First, I’m not taking shots at EA Canada here. They made a game, and I knew going in that this mode was designed so they could score additional revenue. Nobody from EA Canada hides the fact you can spend money to improve your team, giving you a better shot at being successful in HUT. They also provide many ways to earn Coins, packs, and players playing offline HUT modes, although patching the slider bug hurt my soul a tad.
What makes me feel like leaving HUT is the idea that I’ve either got to grind more than I want to, or I must spend real money to keep up. Having already put in considerable time and money, I’m not prepared to go down that endless rabbit hole, always chasing the next player who becomes a part of the meta if you wish to keep pace. I don’t want to fear taking a month break only to find out that my $300 team is obsolete.
My team is rated at four out of five stars. It has Legend Sakic, Hero Clarke, Legend Joseph, and even Evolution Matthews. However, today I saw that EA Canada released Evolution Talbot and Evolution Rakell, and my first thought was, “I need to buy packs.” This was followed by reminding myself that I didn’t want to spend the money, and then the realization of how much grinding would be required to get the Coins necessary to buy these players without spending real money.
— #NHL18 (@EASPORTSNHL) October 5, 2017
What really puts the nail in the HUT coffin for me, though, is being self-aware enough to realize that I will lose interest when I hit my skill wall. When I can’t move up to the next division, and all the games are so stressful that winning or losing is nothing more than relief from a self-inflicted anxiety. I’m also fully aware that this is my problem.
But, if you’re EA Canada, don’t you have to ask yourself what you can do to keep players engaged in HUT for the entire NHL season? Or are you content to grab as much cash as you can early in the season and just accept that there could be a drop off as the months roll on? And, for me, the answer to how to keep players engaged can’t be releasing more cards that simply require more money and grind.
I’m not going to pretend to be a game developer here. I don’t know how to fix the match-making in NHL 18 HUT, but I can tell you I’m less than impressed with it. It’s a coin toss whether I’m going to get blown out of the water by someone so far beyond my skill level it isn’t funny, or if I’ll end up doing the same to my opponent. That sort of thing happens too much and, when combined with the drain on my time and money to keep up, is just too much for me stay invested.