There’s no question that NHL 23’s Be a Pro mode would benefit from some love from developer Electronic Arts Vancouver. We all have our list of features and fixes that we’d like to see implemented, but for those of us who have tried playing through a career as a goaltender, things are even worse. There is no better showcase for the shortcomings of BaP than when you try to make a living between the pipes.
Prior to the addition of conversations and storylines in BaP, players used to have the option to start in the Canadian Hockey League, play a season, the playoffs, and possibly the Memorial Cup. You could get drafted and work your way to the NHL. It was common to get sent down to the American Hockey League if you couldn’t cut it with the big clubs. Aside from the fact it was great to play with the London Knights, a team for which I own season tickets, there were options for you to grow and develop your player against similarly skilled competition. You weren’t jammed into the NHL as a 70-overall player, banging your head against the wall in a league you had no business being in.
A couple of years ago, EA Vancouver took out the option to start with a full season in the CHL, only allowing you to play through the Memorial Cup (you can also start in Europe). You’ll get drafted, then you’ll make a big club. While it is possible to get sent down to the American Hockey League in Be a Pro, it’s harder to pull off than sticking with your NHL club. This means that throughout the first year of your career your created player starts at about 70 overall and can work their way up from there. It’s a frustrating gameplay loop to say the least.
As frustrating as it can be, it’s not impossible if you’re playing as a forward or defense. There’s a lot of ice to work with, and you can theoretically lean on your artificially intelligent teammates to bail you out. Go to the net and bang in some rebounds. Stay in position and force attackers to the outside. Get the puck into the hands of the more skilled players on your team. When you have four other players on the ice to depend on, you can make it work as a forward or defenseman in the early days of a BaP career.
There’s no hiding when you’re a goaltender, though. You either make the saves or you don’t. Sure, positioning has a lot to do with it, but anyone who’s tried to play as a goaltender in BaP knows what it’s like to be in perfect position and have your weak glove-high stat let you down. You can train to improve it and spend skill points, but you have nearly zero control over what X-Factors you can unlock (this needs to be changed immediately), and all of this takes time. Your glove or stick-high stat (or whatever stat is lacking for you) won’t be in a good place for a season or two.
If only there was a simple and logical solution to such a problem.
What if you started as a goaltender in the CHL, playing a full season against similarly skilled competition? What if you then got drafted and weren’t good enough to hang with the big club, and were sent to the AHL to develop your player and work on your game? What if your 70 overall goaltender wasn’t forced to face the world’s best shooters, doing everything right and still being sniped on repeatedly? What if the Be a Pro career path looked more like an actual journey from prospect to superstar?
If it seems like what I’m asking for is a lot, it’s not. What I’m asking for are features and options that existed in the NHL franchise a couple of years ago. They were taken out about the time conversations and storylines were introduced. Players have been salty about that since the day it happened, but we’ve always been able to make it work. I’m still able to win the Calder as a Defensive Defenseman entering the league at 70 overall. As a goaltender, however, it’s crystal clear what the BaP mode lacks and banging your head against the posts to make it work just isn’t worth it.
Bill Lavoy posted a new article, Playing as a goalie in NHL 23 Be a Pro highlights the mode's shortcomings
Damn it was like this article was written especially for me. I like being a goalkeeper in the nhl games (and sometimes in PES as well) but that mode was always frustrating for it.
Thanks for such an in-depth article for something so niche, I tend to only buy the nhl games every few years and I was getting tempted by the marketing bomb during games on espn+.