I was introduced to Paladins on last weeks episode of Digital Download, our weekly gaming podcast. In short Paladins is a hero based shooter from developer Hi-Rez Studios, the team that made games like Global Agenda and more recently the moba Smite. From various internet videos and discussion boards the game seemed to be almost a clone of Blizzard’s Overwatch, and in some ways – particularly in how some of the characters play – it is, but overall Paladins brings it’s own brand of charm and uniqueness creating a game that is incredibly fun to play.
Visually Paladins is great. Imagine the same cartoony styling of Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. In fact stylistically I would say Paladins is right on point with these other hero based shooters. In game characters like Viktor looks like exactly what I would imagine if you crossed Soldier 76 and Soldier, while Barik looks like a cross of Torbjorn and Engineer. Other characters however like the Dragon Drogoz and the tree creature Grover look totally original. As far as specific champion play styles go Paladins definitely does take quite a bit from Overwatch. Champions in Paladins clearly have abilities copied from the likes Pharah, Mei, Soldier 76, Roadhog and McCree. Champions that haven’t had their abilities primarily taken from Overwatch also don’t seem too overly original. Surprisingly however this doesn’t really necessarily take away from the game. In fact I actually was able to hop into Paladins incredibly quickly thanks to my past time playing Overwatch and Team Fortress 2.
What makes Paladins fun and unique lies in it’s core game play. Again similar to Overwatch and TF2 the primarily objective is to capture a point and then escort a Payload to the specific end zone. What makes Paladins unique is how this plays out. Instead of having an offense followed by a defense round Paladins drops you in with both teams attacking the point. Whichever team captures the point first gets to escort the Payload. The game plays until one team hits 4 points. A point is earned by Capturing the point, escorting the payload or preventing the payload from reaching it’s end goal. This set up allows for both teams to secure points throughout a round and ultimately leads to much faster games than are available in either of it’s competitors.
Additionally Paladins drops another layer of complexity in how you build your character. Upon leveling you receive a crate which contains cards (or very rarely could contain a character skin). Once you have cards you’d like you’re able to create a loadout of the cards to buff your player in the way that you would like. Each Champion has their own set of cards and so it is possible to buff or nerf your champion in a way that fits your particular play style. On top of that throughout a game while in your spawn you can use any money earned in game (from kills, captures, etc.) on further buff cards to your champion similar to the way Counter Strike weapon purchases work.
Paladins biggest issue comes from the fact that the game is free to play. The catch being that the game really isn’t free to play. Having not payed a penny yet I’m locked to only using one of 7 champions. This is a big change from the standard of being able to play all of the heroes in both Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. Of course Paladins has the Founders pack which will grant a player access to all champions as well as all future champions but it just seems a bit excessive. I’m okay with Overwatch’s pay wall to get in because then there are really no need for micro transactions. With Team Fortress 2 all characters and maps are free with the only pay wall being micro transactions regarding weapons and hats. With Paladins having a cost to champions and a series of skins and other goods which will be micro transaction based it just seems like a whole lot of cash grab.
Paladins is a game currently in beta so much of what’s currently in game is going to change. Visually the game is beautiful, and while the characters may not play as fully original the game play itself is incredibly fun. Ultimately though I’m excited to see how the game grows and expands and where it goes next.