Lay your hands on me, pleads
When Paladins was first shown it was quite quickly brushed off as something of an Overwatch clone. At the time the claim was understandable as a number of characters looked very similar and had all but identical suites of skills, but as development has progressed and the character roster has grown the comparisons have become less and less obvious. There are still a few characters with a resemblance to those in Overwatch, but more than any other hero shooter on the market, Paladins feels like a first-person MOBA.
Two teams of five battle against each other over four different game modes: Siege, in which the teams battle over a central capture point then the successful team tries to push a payload that spawns there to the enemy base; Payload, a similar mode but with one team pushing and the other trying to stop them; Survival, a small map team deathmatch with no respawns; and Onslaught in which the teams battle to capture control points to raise their score. The 35 characters currently in the roster are broken into four different categories. Front Line characters are your bullet sponges and tanks with high health or shield pools and defensive abilities. Damage characters do what it says on the tin. Support characters are buffers and healers and Flankers have high mobility and some form of self-sustain to make up for their lack of health and the fact that they can rarely rely in the cover of a tank.
Although these four categories of character define their purpose, each character has five basic skills to call upon; primary and secondary fire, and separate skills attached to Q, F and E (or face buttons on console). This range of skills makes the characters feel more interesting and nuanced than the cartoonish design might otherwise indicate. Pip, a support character that looks something like a Chinese bootleg of Ratchet (or maybe a chibi Jak) hurls potions that can cause significant damage to enemies, others that can heal allies and can even turn enemies into chickens. Androxus, a flanker with a six-shooter does decent damage at medium range but also has dash moves and a short term damage shield that reflects 75% of the damage absorbed.
In addition to the basic skills, Paladins also features a deck building mechanic that allows players to customise their characters as well as an in-game Burn Card mechanic that lets players spend currency they earn in game for short term buffs that last until the end of the round. Players can equip five cards with a maximum value of 12 points combined to augment their character. These cards are found in-game, crafted with in-game currency and can be found in loot boxes. The more powerful cards are worth more points and may have drawbacks to balance their power. The Burn Cards can be bought back at the spawn point and give buffs until the end of the round, giving faster movement, cooldown reductions and the like.
Paladins is free to play, but if you don’t want to have to unlock characters there is a “Founder’s Edition” available for $20 USD with all of the characters unlocked, a few new skins and some loot boxes.
Part Overwatch, part MOBA, part deck building, Paladins sure wants to be liked.
DEVELOPER PUBLISHER PLATFORM RELEASE DATE Hi-Rez Studios Hi-Rez Studios Xbone, PS4, PC Open Beta