VANCOUVER, BC — The Seattle Kraken have already been playing at Climate Pledge Arena for months, at least in the studios of EA Sports.
This is where developers have been releasing the Kraken multiple times a day, for weeks on end, as they finalize the gameplay for NHL 22.
KING 5 was given exclusive access to the game, which will include a Seattle NHL franchise, and Climate Pledge Arena for the very first time.
"You're looking at pretty close to a 1 to 1 representation," said associate producer Andy Agostini, as we settled into a couple of well worn sofas to play as the Kraken and Tampa Bay Lightning. He has the enviable job of playing the game for a living, working out the production kinks for the NHL unit, which is based in British Columbia.
It was made tougher this year, because of the pandemic, and the fact that research and development teams could not visit the Seattle arena site, as they would normally. A team of roughly 250 programmers and designers also had to work remotely to finish it up.
"A stadium of this quality would take somewhere between four to six months, with artists working on it," said Agostini in between virtual skates. "The Frostbite Engine (which is new this year) really pushes the envelope in terms of art and what we can do."
He said the Oak View Group's architects provided all their original designs and files to allow them to pull it off.
"They put us in touch with the actual architect, Populous, which is is company that helped design the stadium," he said. "They provided us with the prints, and the CAD files for us to use, with COVID and us not being able to travel, made it difficult for us to go anywhere."
What you see is a beautiful, three-dimensional arena on a 4K screen. The glass panels of the Climate Pledge Arena are there, along with a view of people hanging out in the bar at the south Atrium. The coding also allows for Seattle-specific signs and fans, all wearing a multitude of Kraken branding gear, and in real-time to the "play" on the ice.
Below is a non-finalized version of the game, provided to KING 5 by EA Sports:
"There are some regular people, wearing ties too," noted Agostini, as he panned around the virtual building.
He also shared that the NHL, and the Kraken, revealed that the secondary 'Anchor' logo will be embedded into the red line, and it can be seen in the game. Both triangular scoreboards can also be seen, and will reflect a replay of a goal or key play from different angles, said Agostini.
The Burnaby campus is filled with football, basketball, soccer fields and motion capture studios. Agostini said that several hockey players have been brought on-site to provide the motion for the game from time to time. The current Kraken squad is well represented, with defenseman Mark Giordano having the highest rating.
Gamers will also be able to create a player, as Agostini showed how he could even put a Seattle journalist in the middle of the action. That guy, wearing #5, was able to provide an assist which caused the virtual Climate Pledge Arena crowd to go wild.
EA Sports will start selling NHL 22 on Oct. 15, 2021, on Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.