One of best parts of attending conventions is talking with the devs. And during my trip to Hi-Rez Expo 2017, I spoke with a number of them about a variety of topics, learning more about the games as well as witnessing their contagious exuberance for their projects first-hand. I spoke with lead designers AJ Walker, Rory Newbrough, and Scott Zier about SMITE's Season 4 changes, Paladins' Season 1, and SMITE Tactics' possible PvE mode respectively. President Stew Chisam also added a tantalizing tidbit, sharing news about the upcoming addition of more limited-time adventures in SMITE. Let's dive in!
If you enjoyed the variety of the one-off arenas Xing Tian's Mountain and Fafnir's Winter Wonderland as I did, this next announcement should make you happy: New adventures will be a regular occurrence! Did you catch when devs mentioned them in previous notes? If not, you are in good company; Chisam noted that these new events were pretty much a hidden line announcement. But he elaborated on the topic for us.
Past, present, and future. While the totality of a game studio encompasses all three aspects, we often focus on only one or two at a time. Over the last week, we heard a great deal about Hi-Rez Studios' present during Hi-Rez Expo 2017, from the tournaments (congrats to all the winners!) to what's immediately in the works for its roster of games. But there are still the two other sides to the studio to consider. And these are the sides I explored in interviews with President Stew Chisam and VP Brian Greyson. Specifically I wanted to learn if the company had plans to connect its past with its future in regards to Global Agenda. I was also curious as to what other directions the SMITE franchise might take.
Join me as we delve into the past and the future of Hi-Rez Studios, the possibility of a Global Agenda 2, and the expansion of the SMITE universe.
By now, it might be apparent that I am a bit enamored with the upcoming cross-platform SMITE Rivals. (Hey, it's the only game I active seek out PvP in!) I've certainly really enjoyed playing the game; it is fun and not just a little addicting. But I have also enjoyed talking with the Project Lead Brian Greyson, Producer Randy King, Lead Designer Chad Wilson, Tech Designer Colter Cvach, and Designer Sean Watson throughout Hi-Rez Expo 2017 about the game. From formal interviews to informal conversations to quick chats between matches, we tackled topics like the copycat concerns, design decisions, tactics, and the future. I even tried to learn more about monetization -- a hot topic in the online gaming community right now. Read on!
The cat is out of the bag. Or should I say Manticore? SMITE Rivals was announced at Hi-Rez Expo 2017 yesterday, giving players a third option for playing the gods in the SMITE IP. But the night before the world found out, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of the folks who are creating the game and not only learn about it but play it for myself! (And no, I didn't break it!)
So what is SMITE Rivals? It's a game that blends the original MOBA with a collectible card game. Now, folks who have come to know me know that for the majority of my gaming life, MOBAs and CCGs both have terrified me. Maybe terrified is too strong of a word, but I definitely avoided them. I was both unfamiliar with them and unskilled. It's only been this past year that I have started dabbling into these realms. So what happens when you combine these two fears into a single game?
It turns out, I love it.
Hi-Rez is expected to have plenty of announcements in store for players during the opening ceremony of its 2017 expo this morning, including the news that SMITE Tactics, its 1v1 turn-based strategy game set in the SMITE IP, will kick off its closed beta today.
Announced back in October, the game had alpha testing in November. This beta release will include a full tutorial to show players the ropes. The Greek pantheon will be available immediately, but the Norse and Egyptian pantheons can be unlocked only as players complete a campaign against AI. The Chinese pantheon will be added later in the year.
Players who are interested in getting in to test the game right now can purchase founders packs starting today. These packs will grant immediate access to the beta as well as 15 card packs, an exclusive icon, and a set of legendary cards featuring Greek goddess Enyo for SMITE Tactics as well as an Enyo skin for Bellona in SMITE itself. As a special deal for the expo, the founders pack is 25% off until January 12th.
The first Paladins e-sports event will kick off today at 12:00 p.m. EST, with the first Paladins Invitational pitting players against one another in a specific tournament bracket. But competition isn't stopping there; Hi-Rez Studios will announce today that Season 1 of competitive play will start after the tournament, even though the game is still in beta. That will mean new heroes and content being introduced along the way, starting with a new fairytale-themed castle being added to the game to coincide with the season start.
Players can also look forward to more customizable skins, starting with Genie Ying and Army Man Viktor; both skins have one body skin and multiple different head accessories and weapons to allow for a custom arrangement. There's also a set of new skins and sprays available for players who aren't able to attend the Hi-Rez Expo personally, and you can link your Twitch account to your Hi-Rez account for a chance at more drops. Check out some screenshots of the new skins and map just below, along with a new trailer for Paladins.
will take the floor of Hi-Rez Expo 2017
today to detail everything coming to SMITE's
fourth season of play, which is expected to "roll out incrementally over several patches in the first part of the year."
The most immediate feature is a brand-new Celtic pantheon and its first goddess, Morrigan, a shapeshifter. Players will take part in the Path of the Phantom Queen event to collect Celtic goodies in-game.
There's also a new Egyptian map with updated Clash gameplay and a new Apophis boss battle, new strategic consumables called Rituals, tweaks for the Conquest Jungle Camp, an overhaul to ranked play, multi-queueing, episodic events called SMITE Adventures, and an assortment of UI, item, and balance updates. Voice chat is also on the way for PC players. Check out the Morrigan reveal video below!
They say good things come in threes, and with today's anticipated new game announcement at Hi-Rez Expo 2017, the studio has three SMITE titles filled with ancient god goodness. The newest addition, SMITE Rivals, brings the original game's familiar gods (and many of the familiars and minions) to the collectible card genre in a new way.
The game will be available for cross-platform play on three platforms: iOS, Android, and PC. Players can move freely between the platforms; all progress is maintained regardless of which device you log into and play from. Also in the spirit of threes, the play takes place on a map of three lanes for matches that last three minutes. Decks consist of only eight cards -- one god and seven other minions or spells. The 1v1 matches are fast-paced, and players can go up against other players in regular or ranked play, duel friends, or play against the AI.
SMITE Rivals will be free-to-play. While there is no date set for a beta yet, those who wish to get their hands on it as soon as possible (who aren't at the expo already playing it!) can sign up for the beta right now on the official site. You can check out the reveal video below. To hear even more details about the game, keep an eye out for our hands-on experience and dev interview later on during the event!
(which I fully plan to keep thinking of as SMITECON in my head) officially kicks off tomorrow morning at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Can't make it to Atlanta? No big thing; the studio's streaming on Twitch
for all four days of the event, covering everything from SMITE
game reveals to e-sports. Twitch Prime subbers will even pick up a special Janus JT-6000
"This year’s Hi-Rez Expo rings in the new year with more competitive esports than any previous Hi-Rez event. Twenty-two teams from across the world converge in Atlanta to determine the SMITE PC World Champion, the SMITE Console World Champion and the Paladins $150,000 HRX Invitational winner."
Massively OP's MJ Guthrie will be on the ground from the event, so expect more coverage through the weekend. In the meantime, check out the videos and teasers!