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Paladins Isn't Overwatch, But It's Damn Good


With Overwatch having become a worldwide phenomenon, it’s easy to compare Blizzard’s latest hit with any up-and-coming “hero shooter”. However, Paladins is anything but a knee-jerk attempt to latch onto that market, having been in development for quite some time. I believe them when they say Team Fortress was their main inspiration – that and MOBAs such as the studio’s very own SMITE. Paladins is pretty much a seamless blend of the two wrapped up in the same free-to-play trappings.

The current roster of champions aren’t as well realised or memorable as the Overwatch crew, yet boast just as much diversity, if not more. Split between your standard team roles, each is defined by their weapon type and a small cluster of abilities. For example, Barik is a frontline hero that can deploy shield walls and turrets while peppering foes with his shotgun. Grover, on the other hand, is a hulking treeman that heals nearby allies both passively and actively. His weapon of choice is an axe (ironic, no?) that deals damage the further away you are from your opponent.

It’s minor quirks like this that set these champions apart. That, and the degree of customisation on offer, allowing you to tune a hero’s stats and powers to suit a specific playstyle. There’s a great spread of options that present themselves as loadout cards. These can be purchased or unlocked randomly, imparting bonuses such as ability range, power, and duration. The best thing about this system is that it’s incredibly easy to understand despite the notable benefits it has in-game.

On the battlefield, players can change up their tactics even more by using the item shop. Points earned during a match can be spent on gear that subtly alters your champ’s stats. It’s a common system used in MOBAs but here it’s much more streamlined and easier to pick up.

Currently, Paladins offers three main game type, Siege being the go-to favourite. Here, two teams of five battle over a checkpoint that, when captured, spawns a payload that must be escorted to the enemy base. It also bags them a point, with the first team to four the winners, though the defenders can scrape a point back if they manage to defend their territory.

At face value, it all seems pretty basic. However, factors such as individual player skill, champion loadouts, and team compositions all factor in. For instance, if you roll a team of damage-based heroes, you’re sacrificing valuable support for all-out attack power. Similarly, a team that uses frontline heroes effectively can hold down that initial checkpoint and cause ample disruption.

Being free-to-play also has its drawbacks, though it is an obvious boon in getting people through the door. The biggest problem here is character rotation, or the lack thereof. Paladins gives everyone access to a small cluster of basic heroes, the rest being purchased with real or in-game cash. This means that you’ll often find the same 3-4 heroes crop up in your team. They’re easy to learn, making them a crutch of sorts. So, when a player finds their best champ has already been picked, they’re liable to quit, shoving everyone back into the matchmaking queue.

Having already put a dozen or so hours into the game, it definitely has legs and I can see this being an easier, friendlier alternative for those wanting some Overwatch-style action. The founder’s pack is relatively cheap at around £15, giving you immediate access to the full roster of 26 playable champions.

Although still in beta, Paladins is yet more proof Hi-Rez know how to bang out an awesome multiplayer title. Without spending as a much as a penny, you can have a fantastic time with it. While those from a more traditional FPS background may find it difficult to adjust, it’s a perfect middle ground between two genres and one that isn’t afraid to show its MOBA roots.

  1. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Me and my son have had a very good time with the game but it really is the biggest rip off of Overwatch you can ever see, the objectives, the characters, their abilities, it’s very clearly based upon it in a massive way. Nothing too wrong with that though, Overwatch got a lot right so it’s going to spawn some copies.

    Very good F2p game.

    Comment posted on 20/06/2017 at 08:47.
    • MrYd
      Since: Mar 2011

      I think “rip off” is possibly a bit harsh, potentially even libellous.

      It was in development long before Overwatch was announced, and they say mostly inspired by Team Fortress 2. And it’s not like Overwatch is the most original thing ever either.

      They do admit to incorporating some “nice features” from Overwatch, although not really anything original that Overwatch invented.

      I don’t think it’s “Overwatch got a lot right” so some people copied it, more that “a lot of things are just right, so Overwatch and lots of other games did that too”.

      Comment posted on 20/06/2017 at 10:43.

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