It’s difficult reviewing Paladins because it’s not officially out of beta yet. These days it seems like a lot of multiplayer game Devs just keep their games in perpetual beta in an effort to what I assume is a means to avoid definitive review slander for any mishaps that reviewers may encounter, so what We’ve decided to do for these types of games is just review them in their current state then revisit them again in the future when they finally leave Beta to highlight any changes that may have occurred. So without further adieu let’s review Paladins by Hi-Rez Studios as of October 2017.
Over the past few months I’ve been playing Paladins on the PC along with some friends of mine and other members of The Buttonsmashers team. I’ve played so much of it that it’s currently my third most played game on Steam Account. During my first week with the game I was playing it religiously, once a day for hours at a time. Which is something rare for me. You see, I don’t usually have the time to continue playing a game daily, because I’m usually required to hop on to a next one as soon as I’m finished with one. My schedule is a hectic one that doesn’t usually allow for casual gaming, but on occasion I make an exception, and for a time Paladins was my exception.
The game is most known for being very similar to Blizzard’s Overwatch, and we’re not going to shy away from that fact in this review. The two games share a lot in common, and anyone that would deny that is lying to themselves. That being said, I prefer Paladins more than Overwatch, and there’s a distinct reason why. Both games are fast paced, exciting multiplayer team based shooters with cartoonistic characters and lots of loot boxes. They both feature similar enough modes, and their loot boxes are mainly like the kind one would find in league of legends. Meaning that they’re filled with cosmetic things that do not affect the balance of the game. This is good for players because no one wants to know that some random wanker paid some coin to get better gear that helps them win games. In this industry we call that pay to win, and thankfully both games don’t have that. So what sets them apart?
Weeeeeell, it’s the initial investment. Overwatch is sixty dollars while Paladins is free. How Paladins justifies this is by making some of their champions available, and locking the others away. It’s then possible to unlock the other champions by playing the game and using in-game currency to purchase them. It is also possible to spend real money on Paladins to get all the champions, but even then it’s much cheaper than Overwatch at only twenty US dollars. In a way I like to think of Paladins as a mixture of the league of legends free to play systems being adapted to a multiplayer shooter. It’s a game that offers the player enough flexibility to decide if they want to spend money on it or not, and this is no lite feat. Many developers have tried to adopt this model to their game and failed miserably. Most fail initially when they sell players a full priced game and then tempt them with micro transactions like loot boxes. Others fail by implementing these systems even worse, and ultimately end up with what is essentially a mobile game parading as something else, but not fooling anyone.
With this game what we get is a perfect mixture of FPS gameplay with a reasonable implementation of free to play elements. Yes I’d prefer if the game didn’t have three different currencies, but for what we get I’m satisfied, particularly when considering that I’m not the biggest shooter fan. I usually avoid games in this genre because I frankly suck at them, can’t aim properly for the life of me. My disinterest increases even more for multiplayer shooters, because not only do I suck at them, but now I have other people noticing my suckishness. With Paladins I got around this aspect by playing characters that have very wide range with rapidly repeating attacks, and I mostly play with people I know so that no one has to yell at me when I do some newbish like missing a perfect point-blank shot.
Another thing that sets Paladins apart from it’s competitor is it’s card system. In the game you are able to unlock different cards that buff a characters abilities. The player is capable of equipping 5 cards and one additional legendary card. The legendary card fundamentally changes how a champion is played, therefore choosing the right one for you can be the difference between a win and a loss. The game’s menus on the other hand are your standard free to play affair, with layer upon layers of temptation to get players to purchase things. If the game wasn’t free I’d be so annoyed by this as well as the incessant pop ups, but it’s mostly free so I give it a pass.
The game controls as you’d expect. Playing with the keyboard and mouse is the best way to play it, given that you can make sharp precise movements that translates to better aim, use of abilities, however, the game is also playable with a controller. The PC controls for the controller is the same as the console version, so players that play on console can safely make the transition to PC if they wish, while being able to keep their controls the same as they do on the console. Some may wonder why a person would play a shooter on the PC with a controller, and it’s a valid question so I’ll answer it here: Some people playing with controller may be injured in a way that prevents the use of a mouse and keyboard, like myself, while others may be differently abled in a way that makes the controller the optimal options. Having these flexible options made available makes a game that would likely be a no for players like me, a yes.
Paladins also has more playable characters than its competitor with 32 to Overwatch’s 25. And these characters are all very unique, and fun to play. Both games have characters that share similar movesets, and characteristics, but visually you can tell them apart. Paladins is going for a more pastel, almost artsy style look while it’s competitor features a super premium polished finish. Characters all look great, particularly when you get their special skins, and the environments look just as good. It’s should also be noted that this game manages to look as good as it does on very basic hardware. I’ve had friends playing on 5-year-old hardware without any lag. It seems like the publisher made it their focus to make the game optimized for as many configurations possible, and they succeeded.
Matchmaking will be fairly straightforward for players that have played other online shooters before. You start the game, invite friends to a party, if you have friends with the game, and then you search for a game among the different modes. Paladins has three different competitive modes, and it’s possible to play them either against the Ai or real players. I’ve found playing against the Ai to be the ideal way to get beginners into the game, but by the time you have things down you should take on the competition offered by real players. Players should also make sure to play their role when in a match, and before that, make sure to choose a class that your team needs. Teams can consist of any configurations of damage, healers, flankers or tanks. Teams are made up of 5 champions who are not changeable once the match starts. This makes pre-match selections a lot more tactical, as players choose the best champions to compliment who their teammates are using. In my experience the tanks and healers are the easiest to learn, and so I recommend starting with them if you’re a beginner. Experiment with different champions, but make sure you at least become competent with one, so that you can be as useful to your team as possible.
Paladins is a game that I didn’t expect to love as much as I do. It’s a game that I initially thought would just be your average everyday run of the mill multiplayer shooter with a horde of multiplayer nonsense that only serve to drain players of every dime & penny, but after closer examination I found a game that was fun, fair, and most of all free. The aspects of the game that players can spend money on are not balance breaking, and for the most part they’re just cosmetic, so they’re not going to be necessary for the average player. As such I’d like to confidently recommend giving the game a try, and if you like it then you should definitely get the founders pack if you can afford it.
The copies of Paladins Founders Packs and Skins used for this review were provided to us by it’s publisher, Hi-Rez Studios.