Hello everyone! My name is Ross and I like both Overwatch and Paladins. I’m not ashamed of that statement. Anytime anyone brings up Paladins, Overwatch usually follows shortly after. Sure the games are similar to some ways as the vast majority of entertainment is iterative. We can go to Team Fortress 2 for the “hero shooter.” People call the tank character from Paladins, Makoa, Roadhog because he has a hook that pulls people in. No one calls Roadhog Nautilus though from League of Legends or Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.
The moral of the story is Paladins gets a bad rap amongst much of the gaming community. I had never given it a chance before until it was recently released on Switch and I can’t stop logging in every day to complete the daily challenges to raise my character, account and battle pass levels. It’s faster-paced than Overwatch which is one of several differences I will be diving into.
Individual Hero Progression
Paladins includes a system where each hero has its own level that can be raised through playing matches with them. Leveling up makes new talents available which allows you to find a playstyle that you enjoy. You can also unlock emotes, victory poses, skins and titles by simply playing the characters that you like.
Each character has four talents that they can choose from at the start of a match that enhances one of their abilities in some way. So if you are playing Viktor, you might want to go for the talent Gunnery which gains 15% bonus damage while using Iron Sights. Or maybe Cardio seems like more of your style recovering 250 health per second while sprinting. While not every character’s playstyle will be for everyone, talents allow for greater experimentation for people to try different characters and different playstyles. These are also critical as you cannot switch characters mid-match picking one that may counter your opponents.
Much like the now defunct Epic Games MOBA, Paragon, Paladins has a card system to further customize the playstyles of the heroes. Each character has a set of cards designed specifically for them that are free and all are available for heroes as you unlock them. Each group improves one of three character abilities that your hero has along with a more general group often focused on defense.
You can set up multiple loadouts for different situations, but each one can consist of five cards. However, you can freely increase the strength of each card up to five ranks increasing the effectiveness of them. However, you only have 15 points to invest in your loadout so you can have a set where three of your five cards are maxed out at level five and the remaining two cards are at level one or whatever combination you think is best. These can only be edited outside of matches and, once you choose one at the start of a match, you are locked in. However, you will be informed about what to choose as you will know what heroes the enemy team is running.
Items are more like passive abilities that you can select during a match by buying them with credits you earn from kills, assists, point captures, etc. These add another layer of strategy on top of everything else. These are split up into four distinct categories with four skills each: Defense, Utility, Healing and Attack. You can select one skill per category in a match and all can be leveled up to three times.
For example, if you see that the opposing team is running two tanks, investing in the Wrecker item is the smart move. At level one, you deal 75% more damage to shields. Or how about if they are running multiple support characters? Cauterize is the one to choose which reduces the healing on a target you are attacking by 30% for 1.5 seconds. It can take some time for you to get back to the payload on a siege map, so it may not be a bad idea to invest in the Master Riding item to make your mount (that is used to leave spawn on Onslaught and Siege game modes) move 15% faster. These add a great way to counter teams without being able to switch characters mid-match.
In Overwatch, support characters are often not great damage dealers for good reason (with Brigitte and Zenyatta as exceptions). However, in Paladins with Team Deathmatch being a major game mode, they have to be more viable from a damage perspective and they are. This game is the one for people who do not like playing support and only DPS characters. There are six support characters and all of them can do some solid damage, even more so if you customize a loadout to maximize it.
I’m not saying that this is the best-case scenario in the world as you want your healers to heal. But oftentimes, the heals are very fast to cast and passive to use. For example, Ying can create illusions of herself on the battlefield. If an ally is within range, he/she will heal from the illusion. Grohk places a healing totem in the ground that will heal those within a specific area. Jenos can place an Astral Mark on an ally that will heal them over 10 seconds. Pip has a Healing Potion that he can toss that will create an AOE heal on the ground for a couple of seconds. The point is supports are fun for everyone in this game.
Paladins has ranked and unranked modes (along with training with bots and custom games) featuring two overarching game modes: Team Deathmatch and Siege. Team Deathmatch is split into two sub-modes: Onslaught and traditional Team Deathmatch. Onslaught has a central point on the map that teams gain points from holding in addition to gaining points for kills with the first team to make it to 400 winning the match. TDM is the classic where one kill equals one point and the first to 40 points wins. These are quick and get you in and out of matches in around 10-20 minutes.
Siege is the more tactical mode. The initial goal is for each team to capture a central point on the map and, once they do, a payload will appear that they have a set time limit to escort to the enemy base while the opposing team tries to stop them. But a major difference between this mode and a hybrid mode in Overwatch is the scoring system. The first team to four points wins and you can earn a point in two ways: capturing the point and escorting the payload to its destination. That means that if one team is up 3-1, the losing side can capture the point and escort the payload in the end to tie it up and then the first team to capture the point during the next round wins. I genuinely prefer this approach as it is not only faster but more dynamic as each team is not set in an offensive or defensive role.
All in all . . .
Paladins is quite a different game from Overwatch. While not necessarily as well-balanced and graphically less impressive, it offers a free-to-play, fast-paced alternative to Blizzard’s wildly popular shooter. Are there similarities? Of course, but the differences outweigh these to make it a game that is worth giving a shot. In my experience, those that belittle the game or ridicule it are those who have never even tried it (which is often the case). I know I haven’t regretted it a bit.