Paladins Gets Crossplay, Smite And Realm Royale Coming Soon

Paladins, made by Hi-Rez Studios, has started supporting crossplay between PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Their other two titles, Smite, and Realm Royale, will be introducing the same compatibility soon. 

What Hi-Rez Studios games are coming to crossplay?

Paladins is Hi-Rez Studios’ free-to-play answer to Blizzard’s Overwatch. With tons of playable characters, it includes mores like Siege, which are all about “pushing the payload”. Modes like this are very familiar to Overwatch players, alongside Team Deathmatch and the objective-based Onslaught.

Rounding out the list of “popular genres” is Hi-Rez Studios’ Smite, which tackles MOBAs, not unlike Dota 2 and League of Legends. Smite takes a unique spin to the roster, however, and has an entire pantheon of gods that are battling. From Zeus to Anubis, the character selection is incredibly thorough. Realm Royale, on the other hand, takes on the popular Battle Royale genre, using the world of Paladins as its backdrop. In any case, all three games are free-to-play.

What does this mean for the future of crossplay?

This crossplay move can be considered more of a blip on the grand scale of things. But, it shows that developers and their communities want unification when it comes to playing with each other. Sony has been notoriously stingy about sharing with other brands. Worth noting is that some games under the Epic Games mentality have found ways around it, such as Fortnite and Dauntless. Even games like Brawlhalla have added crossplay support.

It’s not only free games that are getting into crossplay. Microsoft’s Minecraft offers crossplay support on nearly any system you can think of, while Rocket League fully implemented (e.g. PS4 included) the feature back in January. The upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will even have crossplay for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. 

Paladins joined cross play this week, but Smite and Realm Royale are still in the process of being implemented. While no release date has been given as of yet, it’ll likely be in the very near future.

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New Smite Game, Smite Blitz Announced by Hi-Rez

The height of the MOBA craze seems like it was forever ago. How often do you hear people talking about LoL, DOTA, or Smite anymore? Well, Hi-Rez, the makers of Smite haven’t forgotten and now they’ve announced new game set in an alternate Smite universe called Smite Blitz.

Smite Blitz is a mythology-themed action RPG with story, challenge, and PvP modes. It will launch with 60 Gods available and many more to come at launch. The game will be playable on iOS and Android, in fact, it is available in Technical Alpha for both right now. If you want the opportunity to take part in the Technical Alpha you’ll need to sign up for Hi-Rez Labs, the volunteer playtesting program for things in development by Hi-Rez.

Here’s what the press release announcing the game had to say about the gameplay.

SMITE Blitz allows players to form squads from their collection of gods from multiple pantheons and create the ultimate team to tackle the variety of challenges SMITE Blitz has to offer. Through simple core gameplay, a depth of content to explore and with a brand new visual style, people both familiar and new to the SMITE universe can experience SMITE Blitz to its full extent.

“No other mobile RPG offers players the chance to control legendary gods in the palm of their hands from so many different pantheons!” said SMITE Blitz Associate Producer, Logan Cooper. “Bringing the world of SMITE to mobile devices has opened up opportunities for new gameplay experiences beyond competitive gaming that fans of the game have been keen for us to continue to explore, while opening it up to players that may not have had the chance to experience the epic stories from across mythology that only SMITE can provide. We’re excited to welcome players to SMITE Blitz and can’t wait to see how their adventures unfold.”

 

Source: Press Release

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Esports Medical Program Started for Smite Pros

You may not think that playing games is a physically demanding sport, in fact, many would be hesitant to call it a sport at all. But, for the professionals who are practicing up to 16 hours a day, it is physically draining. Injuries in professional gamers are a very serious problem and now, thanks to Skillshot Media and the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network Smite and Paladin pros will be able to have those injuries taken care of by experts. The two companies have teamed up to create an esports medical program to look after the professional gamers.

Thanks to the new program pro gamers will have access to pre-performance screenings, endurance training, sports nutrition training, a team/league doctor, access to experts for physical and mental health management, and an injury training room.

Talking about the new program Todd Harris, Co-founder of Hi-Rez and President of Skillshot Media had this to say.

“In discussions with the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network, it became clear that they are not only taking early notice of the rising trend of esports injuries, but also aspire to serve our pro players just like athletes in traditional sports – benefiting from nutrition, exercise, rest, and best practices for optimizing performance and prolonging careers. We are thrilled to partner with Northside to provide complementary injury-prevention services for our players and also share ongoing research with the broader esports community.”

 

Dr. Vonda Wright MD, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network added this.

“As the convergence of technology expands our definitions of ‘athletes and competition,’ Northside Sports Medicine is proud to step into this unique role. Through preventive care and innovative research, we hope to maximize performance while minimizing injury for these pro players, while setting a standard of care for esports athletes at every level.”

 

The field of esports medicine is a growing one, in fact, it was just last week that team Magic Gaming signed a sponsorship and health service deal with regional healthcare network Orlando Health. It’s likely that we will see more of this happening in the future

 

Source: The Esports Observer

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Hi-Rez Community Manager Arrested in Child Sex Sting

While much of the United States was sitting down to watch the Superbowl last weekend a series of arrests were being made across the Atlanta area, including the arrest of a Hi-Rez community manager. Thomas Cheung was one of 21 people arrested over a five day period in what was called Operation Interception. He has been charged with “using a computer service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to commit an illegal act.” More charges may come in the future.

The sting was part of several months of planning between various agencies who were arresting “persons who communicate with children on-line, have sexually explicit conversations, and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.” This is according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Smite has passed 20 million players

Hi-Rez made the following statement to Variety who originally reported on the news.

“On Monday, February 4th, we learned through local news that Thomas Cheung was arrested in an operation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

At this point, we know only what has been reported in the local news and by local law enforcement, and cannot comment on specifics of Mr. Cheung’s case, other than to say that, as of today, Mr. Cheung is no longer employed by Hi-Rez Studios.

As a parent, it is difficult to imagine more disturbing allegations than those laid out in the news reports. We commend the efforts of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and other law enforcement to protect our state’s children and to send a strong message that the behavior targeted in their Operation Interception will not be tolerated in Georgia.”

He worked for Hi-Rez as a community manager on both Smite and Paladins for almost a year. He was also a Twitch Partner but since his arrest, his page has been suspended.

We will be following this story for any updates.

 

Source: Variety

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Hi-Rez Founds Sub-Studios to Handle its Existing Titles

Hi-Rez Studios has its fingers in a lot of different pies, all of which are pies of their own baking. However, it looks like they’re hoping to reach their fingers out to different games industry pies…

Okay, this analogy has gone off the rails a bit. What I’m getting at is there are new Hi-Rez sub-studios being opened which will handle all of the company’s existing titles and free up the parent company to expand its publishing reach.

hi-rez sub-studios

Hi-Rez has opened three satellite studios:

  • Titan Forge Games, which will handle Smite;
  • Evil Mojo Games, which will manage Paladins;
  • And Heroic Leap Games, which will steer the Realm Royale ship.

Smite and Paladins executive producer Chris Larson has been tapped to be the general manager for all three of these new ventures, while the original staff of each game will transition to their respective studios and even be open to hiring new staff to further bolster development of each title.

As for Hi-Rez itself, it will now offer two service companies in a bid to increase its outreach to potential partners. These service companies consist of Skillshot Media, which seeks to build esports player communities; and Alacrity Arthouse, which will offer technical services such as art, FX, 3D animation, cinematic video creation and more.

“Our new Hi-Rez Publishing Group is designed as a service organization, whose sole mission is to enable each of our partner studios to reach their full potential and best serve their respective gamer communities,” said Hi-Rez president Stew Chisam. “By structuring ourselves in this manner, we allow the organization to scale to multiple games more easily, while ensuring our existing game communities receive a better, more focused service than ever before.”

Our Thoughts

We certainly like the idea of these new sub-studios potentially providing more focused development of Hi-Rez’s existing titles. If all of this means more significant updates to each game, then this can only mean good things for fans.

Source: press release

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First Look at Paladins: Realm Royale

Hi-Rez has been hard at work on their battle royale game Paladins: Realm Royale. It was originally announced as Battlegrounds in Paladins but after a month developers decided to rename it and split it off as its own game. With that came what Hi-Rez called aggressive changes which meant that it had to stop player testing for a while. But now it’s back and over the weekend some lucky players got to try out the closed alpha. This closed alpha didn’t allow any streaming, reviewing, photos, or anything else so the information on it is a little bit thin.

That is with the exception of what Hi-Rez included in their FAQ on the closed alpha on the official forums. Specifically, we got a look at how to forge legendary weapons. Forging gives players a reason to pick up gear they would normally ignore. Gear that isn’t being used can be dismantled, which gives you Shards. Once you have 100 shards you can take them to a forge. After two minutes the shards become a random legendary weapon or ability.

It’s an interesting system that gives players something to do with the loot they don’t end up using. There isn’t any indication of how long it might take a player to get 100 shards. So it is still possible that you end up stuck with something you don’t want. But hey, at least it’s a legendary useless item! Also, there aren’t many forges, so it is possible that players will end up camping out nearby in the hopes of catching someone. So a trip to the forge isn’t without risk.

While the keys for this weekend’s closed alpha event went very quickly Hi-Rez has already said that there will be plenty more opportunities in the future for players to try things out. So if you’re interested keep an eye out on social media and the official site.

Source: Official Forums via PCGamer

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Hi-Rez Sees Your Bad Paladins Fanart and Removes Cards Unbound

Earlier this week, I came across the phenomenon of bad Paladins fanart created in Paint to protest the controversial Cards Unbound, the game’s lootboxes that players deemed incredibly pay-to-win and well… the results were frankly majestic. Still, the desired result of any protest is change, and that is precisely what Hi-Rez have offered with the removal of Cards Unbound.

Speaking to the playerbase directly, Executive Producer Chris Larson explained that looking solely at the Cards Unbound metrics, the system was actually fairly successful from a financial and player conversion standpoint however, they have heard players complaints loud and clear.

“We know this system has angered many of our most loyal fans and become a point of continuous contention in the Paladins community (and even inside of Hi-Rez). Your voice has been heard loud and clear.

Our team will be working over the next major release cycle to remove Cards Unbound from the game. We will be replacing it with a new system that I believe the community will be really excited about — including the re-introduction of the deck building point system, and a method for obtaining cards that will be way less grindy.”

New Card System

Larson says that Hi-Rez first and foremost want Paladins’ card system to be about fun ways to customize champions and that they want to bring competitive and casual playstyles together within one system so that there is no more separation of bound vs unbound.

The rough outline for the new system, though subject to change, is thus:

  • Legendary Cards will now be called Talents.
  • Talents will only have a single level.
    • Talents will be unlocked for free by earning XP and gaining Champion levels (for example; level 1,5,10,15).
  • All Champion Cards will now be free (No cost or grind).
  • Deck creation will return to a point system where players can distribute 15 points across the five cards they select for their loadout. Each Champion Card will have five ranks to choose from.
  • Talents will not have ranks, and are not included in the loadout point cap.
  • Talents and Decks will continue to be chosen at match start to allow players to tailor their playstyles based on their opponents.<
  • New Talents will be added over time and give further varied playstyles.
  • Champion Mastery will no longer be capped at level 25. Instead, it will work similarly to Player Account leveling (which has no cap).
  • Card chests will be removed from the game.
  • We are evaluating the best options to compensate players for their previously earned cards, and hope to share details soon.

We can expect to see this new system on the PTS asap, perhaps as soon as next week, so if you want to be involved in making sure the Cards Unbound replacement is up to scratch, make sure you get in on that and share any thoughts and critique you can.

Battlegrounds

In other Paladins-related news, Battlegrounds began Open Beta testing on Wednesday so if you’re interested in seeing how Hi-Rez do the battle royale format, you can you can read more about the latest update here or watch the video attached below.

Our Thoughts

Hahahahahahahahaha. I’m sorry, I didn’t get to say it earlier and bad art is my one true weakness. Thanks to the legend on the Paladins subreddit for documenting everything, but perhaps most importantly, thanks to Hi-Rez for listening to its fans and making the change. It is always awesome to see devs listening to players and this is a good step forward.

Source: Google Doc, Official Site via MassivelyOP

Other Articles Related to Paladins

Paladins Review (PC)
Paladins is Adding a Battle Royale Mode
Here Are Full Matches of Paladins Battlegrounds in Action

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Last Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway

The Second Chance round of this giveaway has ended, and the winners drawn and notified via email. Good luck on this final round!

SMITE is a free-to-play 3rd person MOBA game made by Hi-Rez Studios where players fight it out in the battleground of the gods! Get ready for an online battleground where all the gods that have ever existed come together and fight each other to the death. Players choose from a diverse cast of deities and use their unique powers to battle it out in 5v5 team matches. With third-person camera angle and familiar WASD controls, SMITE presents a new take on the MOBA genre. Choose your favorite deity, get into the arena, and prove who is god of gods! SMITE and MMOGames ran a givaway for Nike and her Harbinger skin a week or so ago, but the keys went quickly, and a lot of people missed out on any hope of getting one. For that reason, we’re running one last round! Enter the Last Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway for your chance at a free unlock of Nike, Goddess of Victory, and her special Harbinger skin!

NOTE: These codes are redeemable on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

 

Second Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway

 

What You Get From The Last Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway

  • A free unlock for Nike, Goddess of Victory, and her default skin
  • A free unlock of Nike’s special Harbinger skin

 

How To Redeem Your Last Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway

  1. To redeem SMITE codes first log into the game, or download and install SMITE if you haven’t already.
  2. Once in-game click STORE then click REDEEM.
  3. Enter your code in the field to unlock your free god and skin!
  4. NOTE: These codes are redeemable on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

 

Enter Via Gleam

Sign in with a selection of options within the Gleam widgets at the end of this post and complete one or more entries to enter. You can select all of them or just one, it’s entirely up to you, though the more you choose, the more chances you have to win! This round of the giveaway will end on Monday, December 4, 2017, at 08:00 GMT. This drawing is for ten (10) keys. If you have any issues, please contact us.

 

Last Chance SMITE RPG Adventure Harbinger Nike Giveaway

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SMITE’s Shadows Over Hercopolis is Flashy and Repetitive

I shuffle in my chair, watching the timer tick up as I queue for SMITE’s Shadows Over Hercopolis mode.

I find it strange that I’ve managed to mostly avoid playing MOBA games. As if some gatekeeper is going to come crashing into my bedroom and demand I tell them who the current DotA 2 champion team is or to know why I haven’t entrenched myself in Heroes of the Storm yet. The reality is that I don’t really enjoy MOBA games all that often. They seem built out of the parts I don’t particularly like from role-playing games and the parts of real-time strategy games I’m bad at, so they were already a poor fit for me. With that as the foundation, the toxic community was enough to make me want to avoid the genre altogether. So, largely, I did.

A metallic drum beat alerts me that I’ve found a game I can join and muse briefly on the oddity of this experience. My only experience with the MOBA genre prior to hopping into SMITE comes in the form of two games of League of Legends, both of which were played with friends. I hated them both. Friends with whom I’d been decently cordial for years turned into freshly-salted fury whenever I would fail to jungle (with characters I genuinely had no idea how to use, since I was forced to use the rotations available and both were my first games with said character), or end up dying pointlessly to a charge I didn’t have enough spatial and situational awareness to avoid.

With my friends against me and my opponents jeering in text chat, I found each experience frustrating enough to just want to abandon; so abandon I did. These memories linger in my head as my temporary allies select their heroes. I wonder if they would be furious at me for all the things I would, inevitably, do wrong. I hope my experience with action-RPGs like Diablo or Torchlight would at least help me make average decisions.

Some cursory wiki-reading had taught me which of SMITE’s heroes had healing abilities, and I convinced myself that healer is a decent role to get my feet wet since I could hopefully undo the worst of my mistakes with a well-timed heal or two. I settle into my first choice, and I load into an adventure. While waiting for the queue to drop me in, I’d read that Adventures mode didn’t offer players a shop. Instead, items were unlocked over the course of the adventure, so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to personalize my hero beyond what skills they normally have access to.

Shadows Over Hercopolis

With a Little Help from my Friends

The run could be charitably said to be going well, in no small part thanks to the teammates. They offer me advice on how to keep out of combat with quick, terse comments over voice, and give me even quicker tips like “stay” or “go” on avoiding the stage-based hazards. Together, we reach the boss of the first section of the adventure, a fight we summarily lose. I offer only a quick thank you before the game separates us, and I feel bad that I don’t have the chance to thank them more at length.

Anyway, that hero was a dud, so I go to the next on my list.

Queue, tick, tock, game, join. This run is worse. This hero, though apparently a decent solo healer, can’t seem to keep both teammates up to a good quality of health. We die. The next two runs go similarly, but at least I find a hero that gels with me. Repeat trips are doing me well.

The fifth run is brief and explosive. A teammate charges all of the enemies in the beginning area, gathering hordes of enemies into tight packs of fangs, claws, and swords, and promptly dies. My other teammate and I shortly follow. This is a very formative object lesson: Do not aggro anything extraneous; it ends badly.

 

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

My thoughts crystallize decently over the next few runs. Coming at this mode as neither a SMITE or MOBA fan, but with more experience in typical action-RPGs and other online games, I find Shadows over Hercopolis kind of underwhelming. The enemies don’t feel particularly interesting or inspired, and the game feels a lot more like the field combat of an older-style MMO. The animations feel stiff and disconnected from what’s happening on screen. Stuns happen and damage ticks, but it doesn’t quite match up with the timing of skills or the flashy attack animations of the opponents. The health bars just sink, without any sort of visual flourish of a sense of motion. Health just cuts away, and enemies continue attacking unabated. Everything feels a little weightless.

Likewise, there’s nothing really spatially compelling. I find myself wanting to at least get the same weighty clubbing I felt from the first Diablo, where animations were clearly canned, but at least impacts stagger the enemies with each swing. It had a bit of weight, even though it was all sluggish—an underwater fight is still visually recognizable as a fight. Shadows over Hercopolis really doesn’t, it just feels like a repetitive, overly complicated game of chess. Pieces move, but they interact only in the most mechanical sense. The presence of the pieces and how they’re at war is too abstracted.

Shadows Over Hercopolis

Likewise, my best understanding of how and why the MOBA genre works is because it’s a very intricate dance. Timing out attacks when enemies overextend, or setting up clever ambushes when players jungle too deep and ganking retreating opponents before they can cower under the safety of teammates or towers. Instead, this feels a little pre-planned. Can the three-person squad out-DPS the enemies they’re faced with, or will they come up short compared to the damage coming there way? I feel like I’m serving as a slow and awkward Microsoft Excel, with the skills I’m using being less important than simply having the equipment or team support to survive. My inclusion here, though significant as a full third of the fighting force on my team, feels less meaningful than if I were a bot.

In part because the sense of progression is so tied to arbitrary checkpoints. Reach this far, chest containing a healing potion and some currency. This far, more currency. Further, currency. Further, currency and a low-level item. Further, currency. Finally, boss. Survive the boss, currency and a medium-level item. New map, more DPS.

Surviving the first boss is easily twice as hard as the level leading up to it, and the play mechanics don’t feel like they’re rewarding my input so much as they’re crunching numbers. There’s almost never a reason to not use a skill, so just spam skills, hit as many enemies as possible, hope you kill before you die. After enough runs, even failed ones, currency accrues enough to buy items (or the low-level items add up), and players can consistently perform well in the first stage. The first boss is really the only instance where the player’s positioning and communication is tested, but at least six item-bearing runs will be necessary before the player can be reasonably expected to get there (without the help of better-equipped teammates).

 

Like a Snowball Downhill

Really, it doesn’t feel right. Everything is too floaty, my randomly acquired equipment is doing more for my team than I am, and the challenges spike furiously when things happen. I heal, I fight, I click, but if this were Left4Dead, I think I could set my character on AI mode and go make myself a sandwich. My team contribution would remain relatively equivalent. I don’t feel like I’m important here. Bosses come close to being something special, but the sudden difficulty spike feels more statistical than strategic, even if there is a strategy and pattern at play.

With enough currency, the town between queues can sell me low, medium, and high-level items. The high level items may require 20 failed runs to gather up enough gold to buy something nice, and 2-3 high-level items might be enough to push stronger characters over the boss to get to the next stage. And that stage will require 4-6 high-level items. Most runs, though, will end in failures. Death is pretty unforgiving, respawns are only available if no players are in combat, and the runs before the first significant item milestone will start to become repetitive, much less by the time the player pockets enough to start genuinely expecting to survive. Once the player starts surviving, though, money accrues much more quickly, and the higher level items come faster. Inertia takes over.

Shadows Over Hercopolis

But, tragically, that’s the best that can be said for Shadows Over Hercopolis. It’s not a bad game mode, really, and it gives a nice sense of progression and accomplishment. However, it feels like it’s a pale effort to jam other action-RPG mechanics into a MOBA. The scenery becomes repetitive, combat feels largely uninspired, and the mechanics don’t really offer much respite. The siren’s call of this mode is almost exclusively on the incremental upgrades, the promise of some new shiny loot after just ten more runs. New items make next few runs easier and faster. Just twenty more runs. Money comes faster, new items, stronger chances, fifteen more runs.

But beyond the promise of something new, shiny, and powerful around the next corner, it’s hard to look at Shadow of Hercopolis as anything other than a mini-game tacked on. It really doesn’t do much that other RPGs or action games don’t already do better, more interestingly, and probably with better personalization options.

 

Pull the Lever, Kronk

As I queue in, familiar characters now like a second skin, it all feels a little rote. Repetitive. I’m not longer thinking about what I’m doing, I’m just doing it. This enemy will spawn a trio of mobs. Area of effect here, line-attack there. Minions go down, switch, heal allies, switch back, area of effect. This isn’t particularly mindful play, but I have enough equipment now that the damage feels significant. A part of me wishes I felt like I was doing enough, but the numbers are still making more decisions than I am. Boss goes well, thanks in large part to my contributions this time, but we die fairly early in the second stage. DPS is still too low. I’m not really having fun, but I find myself mousing over to the “Play Again” button. I could be playing anything else right now, so why am I about to press Play Again? My mind wanders briefly over to Dark Souls, perhaps.

I am in queue again, though. I didn’t mean to be, but I’m so close to another item. Maybe this is the one that will make me an unstoppable healer-dreadnaught. Maybe being powerful enough will make the moments feel weighted, and my personal input worthwhile. Probably not, but it’ll only take another 21 runs until I have another shot. Perhaps that one will give me unlimited power.

I shuffle in my chair, and the timer ticks up second by second.

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