Note: I bought this game and the founders pack, I am not paid by Hi-Rez Studios and was not asked to make any article for them, I just find the game freaking awesome and want people to know about it…okay?!
But Pally-Dan, You do have Legs! Paladin Preview
Hi-Rez Studios. They have made some pretty fun games, at least for some people. I was never a fan of Smite, but I’m not a MOBA fan. Smite was interesting but it never really grabbed my intrigue and just kind of bored me. The perspective was different and that was all good and well, but it wasn’t for me. Now this weekend I planned on playing a crap-ton of Persona 5, and well that didn’t happen. So I settled with jumping on my nice PC for a little while and wanted to play Dawn of War III, which didn’t happen due to time constraints.
So I downloaded Paladins and decided that maybe I should try it out. Holy crap, was I instantly hooked. Free-to-play games aren’t my favorite, generally, and that is due to the nickel and diming that is in every part of them. I don’t want to be asked if I want to buy gems, I don’t want to spend a dollar more on your game than I have to. I don’t want to play for 400 hours just to unlock a new character or buy some cool looking skin, I just don’t. Clearly I have a thing against the free to play model.
So Paladins is in closed beta right now, which does obviously mean that things can change, but I like where it is right now. It is similar to Overwatch and I think in many ways may end up championing Overwatch in some ways. Here’s the kicker, I loved Overwatch when it released. I put so many hours into with my friends and just had an overall blast, but I was never dedicated to it. I found that after every patch they would nerf my favorite characters and then when they added a Competitive Season I realized I would never be into it again. Overwatch is Blizzards newest baby and it’s great, but even when new characters were added, I wasn’t impressed.
(Let’s be honest, the new characters really aren’t impressive)
It has a great community and a great idea going with it, it’s just not for me. I like other games too much. Paladins will probably end up in the same vote for myself, however for the moment I’m really enjoying it. Gameplay is almost the same too. It’s a first person push the objective style game. You try to capture a point in the middle of the map, fighting against the other side, then you push a payload to the other side of the map to score. It’s a pretty basic gameplay style that works extremely well. It has a wide variety of hero’s to play, each one completely different from the other.
Such as a Hispanic knight with a rose in his mouth who has a flamethrower and a giant shield. Yes it is very similar to Reinhardt from Overwatch, but he plays completely different. There’s some weird Siren lady who shoots dark power out of her hands and then can heal herself for different amounts depending on the number of hits she got on the enemy. Everything is just very unique, which is very similar to Overwatch. The kicker here though is that there isn’t a story.
(Fernando is all man and no story)
I know what you’re thinking, well neither does Overwatch, but Overwatch does, and it’s one of the things that kills me about the game. Overwatch was a different game before eventually becoming the behemoth it is today. The problem was that all of this lore and storybuilding had been done in the game, but none of it was in the game itself. Little pieces here and there are scattered throughout the levels and even the characters models. There are cut scenes that make reference to a bigger world and story than what is included in-game. That is what started to kill Overwatch for me.
(Build your story and world, but don’t make me pay 200$ to enjoy it)
I understand wanting to make a game that is interesting from multiple viewpoints. One that people can speculate and theorize for years to come. The problem is that the story in this case is more of DLC. A 60$ game that the real story behind everything is locked behind books, comics and 5 minute shorts online. I can probably bet you that in the next 2 years there will be some kind of animated film that covers the Overwatch backstory. Mark your calendars ladies and germs, mark ’em. So they want to build a bigger world than what is there in the game, great right?
Except I already spent 60$ on the game and then we get to a bigger issue contained with-in. The lootboxes. Lootboxes in-game are unlocked by leveling up, you level up based on your performance in a match. Pretty standard stuff so far. The thing is that the higher level you get the more exp it takes, which in place means you have to play even longer to unlock a box. Sometimes it takes 4 matches, then it starts to grow up to 20+ matches, it’s a little ridiculous. The boxes also can have items that you have already unlocked which means that you get an in-game currency that you can buy items with, unfortunately it is nowhere near the value of the item you had already unlocked.
(Hard to get excited when most of the items you get are repeated items)
So you have to buy boxes to get cool gear and you may get items you already have…okay. It’s a minor complaint but it’s one that the community of Overwatch has had for a while. So what about Paladins? Unfortunately it has a similar concept, but because of the way the games leveling is set up, it feels better initially. First off you get chests and currency for leveling up your characters and your account. So two separate ways to get items. Then there are 3 different kinds of currency. First is gold which you get for playing in general and doing well in the match. Second is this potion stuff which you use to unlock cards, more about that later. Then lastly there are crystals, this is the premium currency which you can actually get just by logging in consecutive days in-game.
Already we are starting to see a little bit of a difference. Paladins is going to be free to play so the nickel and diming is going to be there, but I never felt that way. In fact I bought the founders pack 20$, pretty cheap, and it just unlocks all of the characters off the bat and gives a few bonus cosmetics, I figured it was worth it. I didn’t need all of the characters and in fact after about 5 matches I had enough to buy a character with in-game currency. Not too bad if I do say so myself. For 20 bucks though, it’s totally worth the money if you don’t have quite as much free time.
(It’s actually a pretty good price for what they include)
The nice thing really though is that the game is actually fun. Most free to play games come at the cost of some gameplay additions. The game is so similar to Overwatch and it made me realize just how well it emulated it, but also improved in some ways. I haven’t unlocked all of the game modes yet so bear with me on that aspect, I only have about 10 hours plugged in. First the game maps are actually smart. Overwatch uses larger maps with bigger time limits, this is fine and works, but matches can last 30-40 minutes…not good. For Paladins the longest match I had been in was 25 minutes and it was only because we had a sort of stalemate going on.
These smaller maps have more intricate corners and little walkways that actually encourage experimentation. Which I love in this style of multiplayer gameplay. Dying never felt cheap and in fact most of the time it was because I zagged when I should have zigged. It felt great to learn a character. You are locked in to a character at the beginning of a match when you pick them, and one of my other favorite aspects of Paladins. When you pick a character it locks everyone else from picking that character, enemy team or allies. Meaning that you have to learn that character.
(Don’t worry, every character is unique, like the Rocket Raccoon wanna-be here)
Overwatch lets you switch characters except in certain game modes, meaning you can adapt to the enemies team. Which is perfectly okay, except that it means gameplay is constantly changing and not always for the better. Paladins forces the player to learn a character that may not be their favorite and it feels greater for it. My main “seris” had been chosen before I had a chance to pick her, so I picked some character named Fernando just because he looked cool. Turned out he was awesome, he was a tank character and I had to learn to play him correctly.
This type of learning is something I love in video games and I wish that more multiplayer games would force you to learn a class or character instead of letting you dump it like last nights leftovers. By forcing me to play with a character I hadn’t used I learned not only how to properly play that character but also how to better defeat him with other character types. Overwatch is very similar with this, but since you can change characters in non-competitive play it defeats the purpose of ever having to learn anyone other than your favorite character. I also like that there are “mounts” in-game, they don’t look flashy, but they do get you to the action quicker.
(The first horse is lackluster, although cooler horses are available later on)
Overall I’m super impressed by a game in Beta that is for lack of a better term, totally awesome. I love all the characters, I genuinely enjoy that every class is actually engaged in gameplay. I don’t feel like any one character is Mercy from Overwatch, and I don’t feel like Paladins is trying to be Overwatch. They are similar beasts but have enough differences to be different games. However if you were to ask me which one is the better game?
I would honestly have to say Paladins right now. Overwatch is great, but the time dedication is a little too much for me. I also prefer the type of gameplay integrity that Paladins has compared to Overwatch. Overwatch is fun, but maps are large and almost overwhelming at times. Paladins is willing to sacrifice some concepts to make a better overall gameplay, something that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.