Hi-Rez Studios, the team behind popular online games Smite and Paladins, have today announced at the Hi-Rez Expo in Atlanta, Georgia that they’re dipping their toes into the overwhelmingly popular battle royale genre with the new game mode for Paladins, called Paladins: Battlegrounds.

Popularised by the unprecedented breakthrough success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds by Korean studio Bluehole, battle royale games pit a group of combatants (usually 100), either in squads or solo, on a large map, where they then must compete against one another to become the last person/squad standing. This usually involves spending the first half of the game running around trying to find gear, and the second half sneaking around the map to stay within the confines of the “safe area,” which reduces in size as the game continues to ensure that people are forced to move or take damage.

According to Hi-Rez, Paladins: Battlegrounds is the first ever “hero-shooter” battle royale, a genre mashup which “combines ability-driven combat with survival gameplay and a fantasy setting to create something brand new.”

“Riding on a mount through this massive fantasy-themed map, looking for gear and cooperating with your team, Paladins: Battlegrounds delivers some of the feel of open-world MMO PvP but all within a 20-minute match,” said Todd Harris, Executive Producer of Paladins.

Paladins: Battlegrounds has been designed completely to be played in teams, and it’s unlikely from the press release that a solo mode will be an option. It will be played through the Paladins client, and will be free-to-play, as the main Paladins game is, utilising the content that players own for the normal Paladins game. The maps in Battlegrounds will be over 18 times the size of a standard arena, and will include mounts and 48 outposts to loot.

This announcement makes Hi-Rez the latest studio to attempt to break into the battle royale sphere that’s currently being dominated by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a deeply flawed but still very engaging game that has broken record after record in 2017. In my opinion, while I really enjoy PUBG and have played a ton of it since mid last year, all we need is a big studio with experience in multiplayer games to add a bit of polish and it’ll be dethroned pretty quickly. Is Hi-Rez the company to do that? I’m not sure, but I can’t wait to see what they’re going to bring to the table.

An early alpha version of Paladins: Battlegrounds will be playable at Hi-Rez Expo this weekend, and the full game mode will be added to Paladins in 2018.

(originally published as Hi-Rez announces their battle royale, Paladins: Battlegrounds)

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