It is true that the Hi-Rez Expo has wrapped up for 2018, and we’ll need to wait another 12 months to attend the next one. (Folks should be over the effects of the after party by then!) There’s just something awesome about getting to gather with tons of fans in one place as well speaking with devs face-to-face. Every year has been cool, but this year has something a little extra: Founder and CEO Erez Goren attended and mingled, answering questions and sharing his love for gaming.
Goren hasn’t given many public interviews in years, but between the dev roundtable with President Stew Chisam and bumping into him on the show floor and chatting with him individually, I got to learn a number of fun facts about the philosophy and workings of the studio from the tip top man himself. And it is true, everything did come from Global Agenda!
Although the studio makes other games and each has a presence at Hi-Rez Expo 2018
, there’s no denying that SMITE
was the star of the show. Fans were excited for the big world championship tournament as well as announcements about the MOBA’s development.
And the expo delivered on both counts. EUnited brought the SMITE trophy back the the US for the first time in years, while devs shared some info about the upcoming Season 5.
I sat down with Executive Producer Chris Larson and Lead Designer A.J. Walker to get more details on the new conquest map, the new pantheons, community feedback, and the next adventure mode.
After a few days of playing Bot Smashers at Hi-Rez Expo 2018 this past weekend, I sat down and talked shop with Rory Newbrough, Bot Smashers Design Director, to get a few more details on the upcoming game. I discovered where the idea came from, and learned more about what to expect in its released form.
What I didn’t learn was that the newly announced game had an MMO version hiding in the wings. Yes, I said that. I think I would totally live in a gaming world of the bots from here. They all have such personality, and they are pretty pleasing to the eye. One of them already has a cloak! The idea just oozes fun. I could see the gruff Topsy trying to maintain order, while the ever-flailing Smashbot runs panicked from life’s crazy stuff. And those Rangerbots? They’ll band together like little green army men to get stuff done. Sadly for me, the mobile game is not an MMO – only a 1v1 battle arena. Maybe someday it could be. (Hey, leave me with my unlikely hopes!) Until that pipe dream can find a thread of reality, here’s what you can expect from the actual mobile game.
Hi-Rez Expo 2018 ended this weekend, which means my opportunity to play the studio’s new 1v1 mobile game Bot Smashers has also ended. And that makes me sad. Like last year’s SMITE Rivals (RIP) that I loved so much, the only place to play was the expo show floor. No expo floor means no playing. Now I must wait for a general release to battle some more bots — and right now there is no set time.
What exactly is Bot Smashers, you ask, and why did it enchant me so much? Well that’s exactly what I am going to share with you. Then we can wait on the game together! Hopefully the wait won’t be too terribly long; Rory Newbrough, Bot Smashers GM and design director, noted that the studio hopes to get testing for the game started in the spring, then follow with a soft launch soon after.
As much as the battle royale-flavored Battlegrounds is big news, it wasn’t the only Paladins news at Hi-Rez Expo 2018. We also learned that there is a new champion, a new map, and more coming to the shooter. But there is always more to learn about news than an announcement provides. That’s one of the things that makes the expo great: the opportunity to talk face-to-face with devs about the game. And that’s exactly what I did!
I spoke with Art Director Thomas Holt and Lead Designer Garrett Martini about Paladins, its upcoming changes, and the lore and story of the game. I also had the chance to try my hand at the mobile take on the game, Paladins Strike, that we heard about at PAX West. Read on for an inside look from the event!
While the bulk of Hi-Rez Expo 2018 is taken up with the various tournaments, the fans have their own contest open to them: Welcome to cosplay. I’ve been bumping into Paladins and SMITE characters out and about all weekend, but the contest showcased some super impressive costumes. If you’ve ever wanted to see a Ao Kuang in real life, good news for you: He won first place! Second place went to Skadi, and third was Bellona.
Congratulations to all the participants, both on stage and off! If you weren’t able to make the event, you can still admire many of the costumes in the video and gallery below.
Paladins got not one but four announcements at this year’s Hi-Rez Expo. There’s a brand-new team death match mode coming as well as new battle cat mounts and a unique new champion. And then there was the biggest news revealing the upcoming Paladins: Battlegrounds.
But announcements only gloss the surface of things, so I sat down with devs to discuss the new modes. Todd Harris, Hi-Rez COO and Paladins Producer, and Erez Goren, Founder and CEO, shared details and answered questions on Team Deathmatch and Paladins: Battlegrounds. I also got to settle in and play a few matches of Battlegrounds. Here’s what I learned in the interviews and my hands-on.
Hi-Rez devs surprised players with the announcement of a brand-new game during the Hi-Rez Expo 2018 keynote address, and no, it’s not a MOBA, an MMO, or even a larger-scale multiplayer title. Called Bot Smashers, this 1v1 mobile game combines base building and strategy with collection. Players collect bots and send them to attack their opponent’s base.
The game is still in early development, but devs say it is at the place where they want need player feedback. Attendees at the con can play at kiosks to get a peek, and everyone can sign up at botsmashers.com to try and get access to the testing. It will be available on iOS and Android. Check back later for our hands-on from the con!
Big brother SMITE isn’t getting all the attention at this year’s Hi-Rez Expo 2018 – Paladins is definitely seeing some love too. The team-based shooter got quite the reveal of its own during the keynote address this morning: a new Battle Royale game mode! Paladins: Battlegrounds will consist of 100 players broken into teams trying to survive while exploring and looting on a massive open map that slowly constricts with a deadly fog. The 20-minute matches play out on a map 300 times the square footage of a typical Paladins siege map. An early alpha version is playable here at HRX, so keep your eyes out for our hands-on!
Devs also revealed other tidbits, including the game’s 35th champion, Moji (a magical Flank that gets to ride into battle on a summoned two-headed dragon); a new Team Deathmatch mode with a new map (Trade District); and new battle cat mounts. The first battle cat, the Primal Prowler, will be given away exclusively to Twitch Prime members. Members will also get a Twitch Prime King Bomb King skin. Check out the trailers for all the reveals below!
Hi-Rez Expo 2018
is kicking off this morning with a big announcement for SMITE
. More than just introducing a new god (Cerberus, the three-headed guardian of the underworld) and revealing the next two pantheons to join the ranks later this year (Slavic and Voodoo), the keynote address is set to reveal that SMITE
is getting a makeover with Season 5. And not just any makeover – the biggest change ever.
Players will see upgraded art on the Conquest Map as well as significant – and highly requested – gameplay changes to the 5v5 mode. That jungle fog? It’s back! And the playing field leveled out, quite literally; the newly symmetrical map creates a fair playing field no matter what side you begin on. On the new map design, Lead Game Designer A.J. “Ajax” Walker says that “the Season 5 map will feature perfect vertical symmetry between Order and Chaos. Lanes and Jungle paths will have the exact same shape on top and bottom. This balances the map, and removes timing differences to each side. Overall, this creates a more consistent gameplay experience.”
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!