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Hi-Rez Expo – Interview with Todd Harris

Interviews By Garrett Fuller on January 05, 2017

Hi-Rez Expo – Interview with Todd Harris

This weekend Hi-Rez takes to Atlanta to show off their latest games and host the SMITE world championships. It is an exciting time for the company and we sat down with Todd Harris, one of our favorite video game executives to talk about Paladins, SMITE, and even some small hints on SMITE tactics.

Paladins was the first game on the list as Todd was quick to point out that with Patch 40 the game has now reached up to 5 million beta testers. Like most of these games, the beta takes time and players are more than happy to test out the mechanics and come together as a community to build the game up at launch. With patch 40 came Tyra a new straight forward character that players can learn quickly. Todd explained that they wanted another character who could easily translate from the first person shooter genre into the game. Paladins crossed a few genres with MOBA, Battle Arena, and MMO. He said that the team’s biggest priority for 2017 is the creation of new and exciting champions. The team usually has about three champions “cooking” at any one time.

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The team has a strong history with SMITE in building out successful characters for their games. Something very tricky when such critical balance comes into play, however there are solid champion teams working on new concepts right now and Todd hopes a few of these will be shown off in the coming months. While Tyra is a damage dealer similar to Viktor, Todd said that other archetype classes will soon be getting some love in the New Year. Classes that play to other mechanics such as healing, crowd control, etc.

In terms of esports, Paladins looks to build upon the huge success of SMITE. Todd said that the company is hosting an Invitational Tournament this weekend as an open invite to teams. This method was very successful in building up SMITE and proved to form leagues after a few years of play. The invitational format is popular among fans because it allows many teams to enter even if they are not pro sponsored. The invitation has attracted teams from all over the globe. After the last patch, the Hi-Rez team is keeping things the same throughout the weekend so that there are no surprises for the invitational.

One last point that Todd made was the huge focus on Lore for 2017. The fans have been asking for more Paladins lore and the team is working to deliver stories, locations, and a background to this already rich world. The art team has been hard at work setting up what looks to be a great canvas for the game. For those watching this weekend, you can expect some new maps and artwork to be shown off at the Expo.

We could not let Todd walk away without some SMITE questions, so we had to ask. This is the third annual World Championships and teams from all over are coming in to compete. SMITE also has some big announcements with SMITE Tactics on the way. We had heard a little tease about Tactics a while back and Todd said that the team is in closed alpha right now working out the kinks. Tactics is definitely a passion project for a lot of the team. It is also the first chance the team gets to use the Unreal 4 engine and build something new with this great toolset.

SMITE will also have a new mobile card game to check out called SMITE Rivals, which you can see at the Expo. We’re excited for this one too. It's in the same vein as Clash Royale, but with its own unique take and a 3-lane map. Last of all, SMITE will be adding a few new features, one that Todd was very excited about was SMITE Adventures which takes on a PvE feel to the game. SMITE is known for its fast paced PvP and now players can group up and find raid like content in a PvE format. The team had done some testing on this in the past and it was very popular with the community. So they are moving forward on the idea and building out more of the world for players to enjoy.

Overall, Hi-Rez is poised for a fantastic 2017. There are a lot of great announcements coming from the show and hopefully some more funny videos from the gang. Best of all, the SMITE World Championships are proving to be one of the most exciting exports events to watch in recent years. The game lends itself to high speed excitement that even casual players can enjoy. Check out all of our coverage from the event this weekend!