NHL 21’s crowd noise played in hubs for players, not just TV

NHL 21’s crowd noise was an essential part of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs experience, providing atmosphere during crowdless games in hub cities Toronto and Edmonton. EA Vancouver’s William Ho shared how it all worked — and evolved — in the lead up to the Stanley Cup finals.

“We’ve collaborated with the NHL and national broadcasters on creating what’s, in essence, a soundboard that has all our in-game sound effects attached to it,” Ho explained. “There are two fellows who man those soundboards during the game and they are… doing foley work live in the games. I think it started off with reactions to goals, but as the playoffs have progressed they’ve gotten more nuanced with it, so that they’re actually in tune with the highs and lows and flows with the play.”

The crowd noise was originally just planned for national broadcasts, “but actually the players themselves wanted that feedback in the arenas,” Ho continued. “They wanted to feel like they were actually playing in front of fans. Eventually it got piped into the arenas themselves as well.”

NHL 21 heads to Xbox One and PS4 on 16 October; we previewed its new, narrative Be a Pro mode here. The Stanley Cup Championship was awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the week.

NHL 21

16 October 2020 (PS4 Xbox One)

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.