Hi-Rez, the studio behind SMITE, has done a lot of expanding over the last year. In addition to continuing work on existing IPs and releasing a new mobile game called Jetpack Fighter, the studio also launched a small, closed beta for its upcoming team shooter, Paladins.
In this new free-to-play game, magic and technology come together in a whimsical setting. Players can choose from a variety of champions, each one of which comes equipped with one unique weapon, a few abilities, a mount, a loosely defined role, and their own unique progression path. Players use the game’s card system to tweak and customize that character’s play style. By collecting cards of five different rarities and building decks, players can play the same characters in multiple ways.
Check out the trailer below:
During a press conference at the Hi-Rez headquarters in Atlanta, some fans expressed concerns about the collectible card format. They cited card games like Hearthstone, which make it nearly impossible to collect certain cards without forking over some cash. But the devs made it very clear that this wouldn’t be the case — they actually had to scale back how often they offered up new cards in loot chests and the like, as player feedback told them they were giving too many cards too soon.
Plans for Paladins in 2016
As the closed beta continues, Hi-Rez is focusing on rounding out the rest of the game, finalizing mechanic and design choices, and putting that last bit of polish on it before it’s opened to a wider audience. They want to add more champions, maps, and cards, in addition to making refinements to existing gameplay, visuals, and special modes. They’re also hoping to refine the controller experience for the game, and continue making improvements on performance demands, matchmaking, and graphics.
Hi-Rez wants to add several character skins and other cosmetic upgrades, such as weapon skins. There are also plans to add competitive features to the game, though it’s not quite clear what that’s going to look like just yet.
In the current beta, there are a few maps: Enchanted Forest, Temple Ruins, Sunspear, Reservoir, and High Gardens. But one more map is being added to that list — Glacier Keep. As the name implies, this will be a very icy arena. And a stark contrast to the brightly-colored arenas that are the Paladins standard.
Hi-Rez is known for referencing their other IPs in newer games, and Paladins is no exception. SMITE fans are likely familiar with the god Sylvanus, who rides around on a giant tree named Grover. Sylvanus himself isn’t making an appearance in-game, but his tree is. Grover will appear as a playable champion, equipped with a mystical lantern that fires deadly beams. Check out his character art:
What a nice little nod to the game that put Hi-Rez on the map.
Last but not least, Hi-Rez announced that it will be hosting a Founder’s Tournament to help promote Paladins. This tournament will pit two NA teams and two EU teams against each other, so they can battle it out for a $100,000 prize pool at the Hi-Rez eSports Arena in Atlanta this Spring.
Interested teams will compete in a multi-week series of qualifying events, and the top four will earn the open slots in the tournament.
There’s a lot on the horizon for Paladins. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for all the latest updates as this game continues to improve and makes its way into open beta and launch phases.