Esports

Hi-Rez Founder & COO Todd Harris Discusses the Future of Paladins, PPL, Esports and More; Full Q&A

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Paladins

Although the hero shooter genre has existed for decades, its certainly experiencing a sort of renaissance right now. With more new additions to the genre being added consistently, developers are looking to grab their share of the fandom and establish their title as the next ageless classic.


One such developer is Hi-Rez Studios with their free to play title ‘Paladins: Champions of the Realm’. Paladins was released in early access on Steam in September 2016, with a staggering amount of changes being introduced to the game since that time as a part of its open beta development.

Hi-Rez isn’t just focusing on the development of Paladins’ gameplay though. They also have their sights set on esports, announcing the Paladins Premier League (PPL) in August of this year. The league sees Hi-Rez collaborating with the World Esports Association (WESA) and their membership teams, with the hopes of furthering the professionalization of the esports industry through features such as league franchising and minimum player salaries.

I had the pleasure of talking to Hi-Rez COO and co-founder, Todd Harris, about Hi-Rez’s plans for Paladins: Champions of the Realm’s future, within the game, and in the world of esports.

Editor’s Note: Hey Paladins fans! We’ve hidden a few codes for founders packs and crystal. It might be here, it might be linked somewhere else from here, good luck finding them! Keep in mind they will probably go pretty fast so pretty please don’t get mad at us if you check and it’s gone. Hunt for them at your own risk! If it’s more than a day or two after the publishing of this article on 10/13/17, just sit back and read this fine interview instead 🙂 

The Future of Paladins: Champions of the Realm

Paladins, Hi-Rez

Padraic Murphy from Twinfinite: I think that often the Paladins player base can sometimes forget that the game is still in beta. The game has just celebrated its first year anniversary on Steam and in that year you released the new legendary card system, the essence currency, multitudes of new champions, and the VIP system. How close is the game to what you envision as ‘complete’ now? Will we see an official launch in the coming months?

Todd Harris: Yeah, it’s been a very busy year for the dev team and our player community. We are far from complete but we are preparing for official launch in the not too distant future. Even after launch I expect the Paladins development team size to only increase given all the new features and content planned.

Twinfinite: Like I mentioned, you guys have been releasing new characters at a staggering pace. 15 new characters have been added to the game since it hit Steam back in September of 2016. What’s the philosophy behind this fast-paced release schedule? Why go down this route rather than releasing champions more sparingly, letting the meta game settle in a bit more before shaking it up again?

Harris: Our experience from Smite is that a hero-based game needs a minimum number of characters before the gameplay becomes interesting.  In Paladins, because you don’t switch champions mid-match and there is also a competitive draft that allows banning, players really need a variety of Champions to choose from.  So we’ve been racing toward that goal.

Twinfinite: When the game is released from open beta, will we see that champion release schedule start to slow down?

Harris: Yes. In fact we are already slowing down. The new champion pace this year has been crazy –  in ten months going from 20 Champions to 32 Champions!  We have one more new champ coming out before the end of the year and in 2018 we’ll slow down further.  There will be a bit more focus on polish and quality of life type features.

Twinfinite: One of the things that makes Paladins most unique is the itemization system within matches. It gives the game a pseudo MOBA feeling to it with players having to watch their gold totals and building for specific situations. Right now, there are 16 items divided across four categories for players to buy and upgrade. I wonder though, will we ever see an item system more akin to traditional MOBA games with a higher number of items that accomplish more specific tweaks to your characters’ stats and abilities?

Harris: Paladins is a team-shooter with MOBA elements. We want more customization than the typical hero shooter.  We will continue to add depth to the item system but never see it becoming as complex as a MOBA.  It needs to stay simple but also give players a few additional compelling choices.

Twinfinite: Paladins seems to strike an interesting middle ground between scifi and fantasy in its art style and character design. With elves and demons and fairies walking around maps like a forest village, there’s a distinct fantasy vibe to the game. But of course, as often as runes and magic are the weapons of choice, so too are bullets and traditional weaponry. It all makes me curious about the lore behind Paladins. Can we expect any big reveals about the story behind Paladins in the immediate future? Can you give us any hints?

Harris: The Realm is a very interesting place, but we’ve been so focused on core gameplay that we haven’t yet revealed backstory and lore to players.  But soon!  You can expect some lore hints and reveals before the end of this year, with a lot more to come early next year.

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