We sat down with the lead producer on NHL 2022 - Clement Kwong - and discussed all the new features coming in this year's installment of the franchise. We spoke about the Frostbite engine, Superstar X-Factors, and Auston Matthews, enjoy!
Note: NHL 22 is released on October 15, so save the date.
Our Interview With Clement Kwong - Lead Producer Of NHL 22
You must be thrilled for the upcoming release of NHL 22 – what new feature are you most excited for fans to try?
There’s a lot we have coming this year - it’s our first time on the Frostbite engine, we are coming to Next Gen, and we have a lot of great updates we have to our modes that we have been sharing this past week. But what I am most excited about are Superstar X Factors and what they will bring to the entire game. We all know the impact that star players bring to the game, and this year these players will truly feel like their real-life counterparts, and anyone playing NHL 22 should feel the Superstar X-Factors impact on the game.
How has it been working with an upgraded Frostbite engine? Are there any new changes that the engine brings to the game?
Our goal has always been to get our EA SPORTS NHL as close to looking and playing like the real life NHL as possible. And this year is the closest we have ever been to that goal - it’s the biggest leap forward in graphics in franchise history. Player likeness is overhauled, environments rebuilt and dynamic lighting will really make the player feel like they are in the arena.
How do you perceive the European market for NHL? What could be done to attract a wider audience here?
The European player base is very important to the franchise. We’ve seen tremendous passion and engagement from multiple regions and it’s part of our goal to represent all aspects of authentic hockey, in the NHL and beyond. We’re proud to have strong partnerships across the European leagues (including the Champions Hockey League) and continue to work with all leagues on engaging our fans with meaningful content.
Are there plans to push NHL esport further?
The 2021 NHL Gaming World Championship hosted by the NHL just wrapped up over the summer and it was exciting to see how many great competitors there are across North America and Europe in our game. We don’t have anything we can share at this time, but we will keep players up to date as soon as we can on any future competitive offerings for NHL.
Can you say something about the NHL Gaming World Championship 22 - will it be in person or online?
The NHL has been the host of the NHL Gaming World Championships, so any decisions would be in partnership with them. We don’t have any news to share at this time on upcoming World Championships, but will let you know as soon as we do.
With players like Crosby or McDavid, who are all-rounders, how do you decide which X factor stat to give? Do you work with the players or the NHL to judge their abilities, or do you do your own analysis?
Superstar X-Factors are inspired by their real-life counterparts and the signature traits the league’s top players are known for. We look at a number of factors when deciding the traits - player stats, scouting reports, and we’re big hockey fans ourselves so we watch a lot of the games and know what unique qualities these stars possess. But we try to get as much data and analysis as possible to accurately reflect the real life star’s abilities.
We’ll be sharing more on what players will be designated as Superstar X-Factors and what traits they have in the coming weeks, but I can say they will span all positions and you’ll really feel the difference when you use those players in the game.
This is a bit of a cheeky one to end on, but my Canadian colleague wanted me to ask: why did you decide to work with Auston Matthews again after NHL 20? And, will we ever get to vote on the cover star again?
Good question, and always something that creates huge debate in the community each year. There are a lot of great players we look at, and many who could be deserving. Knowing that Superstar X Factors was a big feature this year, and knowing Auston’s unique skill set and coming off winning the Rocket Richard Trophy, we thought he would be a good fit for this year’s game.
We're looking forward to hearing more on the Superstar X-Factors in the coming weeks, and we'd like to thank Clement and his team again for their time.
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