Similar gameplay. Different battleground.
After watching one of the trailers for Paladins, you might think it is just another copycat title. Although some of Paladin’s characters and gameplay looks like a different version of Overwatch, it introduces a few different elements in hope to stand out a bit differently.
Paladins is created by the developers HI-REZ Studios who brought you SMITE. It is a 5 v 5 team brawl in which you compete in 2 modes; Capture point and Escort. These modes don’t really help Paladins to stand out from the crowd and it would have been nice for them to at least come up with a different gameplay objective.
In terms of gameplay modes, you have the basic options of Casual, Competitive, Training & Custom. Competitive is locked until you meet its’ requirements of mastering 12 champions to level 5. During this open beta, I spent most of my time in Casual, trying to get better acquainted with the controls and gameplay. If you’ve played other titles like SMITE, Overwatch or Team Fortress 2 then you will find it quite easy to get use to the gameplay.
In the open beta, you can choose to play 16 different champions, 7 which are unlocked first and the rest requiring you to purchase with in game currency or real money. Some character designs are fairly creative, however others seem to be a direct copy from Overwatch characters, such as Barik and Torbjorn.
You can customise each character with different colours for their weapons, head & some will have legendary costumes. After selecting your champion, you’re given another short round where you can customise your character. I think that they could just shorten this and merge the two together so you get into the games faster.
When you get into the game, you’re presented with your loadout, a set of 5 cards that alters your characters stats. You can asquire new cards by unlocking loot chests or purchasing cards from the store and can create a few different loadouts for each champion. Before the game starts, you can also purchase items to boost your characters even more from the card shop. These are individual cards which impact your defense, utility, healing & attack attributes. You can choose up to 1 different skill card from each tree and can hold up to 4 during a game. During the beta, I wasn’t able to sell back my cards and purchase a different one, so it seems that the ones you choose you have to play with for the entirety of that match, which adds a degree of careful planning to figure out which cards you should get. To earn these cards, you need to spend credits, which you get by killing enemy champions and completing the match objectives. You can then choose to purchase new cards or spend it to level your current purchased cards.
Once the game starts, every champion receives a horse mount that you can ride into battle. These mounts seem to serve as a quick way for you to get back into the game, which seems fitting as these maps are not that large, so it keeps the gameplay at a constant pace. Currently there are only 3 different types of mounts you can choose from, although it would be nice to see unique mounts for each champion in the final game.
The 16 Champions fill the criteria of Front line, Support, Damage & Flank. I tried out 1 champion from each criteria and they each felt unique and simple to master. You will definitely notice some characters, although presented differently, have moves similar to the characters from Overwatch. However, I think they do enough with the other characters so it feels like a different game. The style of some characters seem to take inspiration from other types of games, as well as other pop culture references. One example being a raccoon and tree champion which seem similar to Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.
With titles such as Overwatch, they’ve built up a backstory and lore of characters and how they interconnect with eachother. Even with Team Fortress, we were introduced to the characters back story through comedic short videos. Players enjoy reading the lore as much as playing the game, as it makes the game world that the developers are trying to create seem more alive. So far with Paladins, there’s not much indication of a lore or backstory connecting the different champions but hopefully they are working on this.
Being a free to play title, it feels like a solid game and is a fun alternative for gamers that don’t want to pay $60 for a multiplayer game, however with the in game currency elements they might unknowingly spend more than that. Hi-Rez studios have been developing Paladins since before 2015 and is currently in Open beta state.
If you feel like trying out Paladins, you can currently download it in STEAM or game client from their website.