'Paladins' First Impressions: It Isn't 'Overwatch' But It's Close

Some of Paladins champions Hi-Rez

Every character shooter released now until the end of time will be compared to Overwatch . It doesn't matter if the game is an entirely new IP with an entirely new gaming engine, if it’s an FPS with different “heroes” you can pick from, it’s just an Overwatch clone. Battleborn never stood a chance; Gearbox’s character shooter was deemed inferior to Overwatch and barely has a player base anymore.

The newest character shooter to come under the “it’s just an Overwatch clone” bandwagon is Paladins , a new FPS made by Hi-Rez. The game company from Atlanta makes Smite , a MOBA that uses gods and a third-person camera to differentiate itself from the other League of Legends clones out on the market. Has Hi-Rez managed to overtake the king of the shooters, or will Paladins end up with a similar fate to Battleborn?

For starters, Paladins is free-to-play, just like Smite. You don’t have to give Hi-Rez any money to start playing, though microtransactions make the game a lot easier. There are 17 champions to play, each with their own set of armor that can be purchased with real money or in-game currency.

At the start of the game, you only get access to eight champions, which is kind of a letdown. Overwatch and DOTA let you play as everyone up front, allowing you to practice and see which champions you click with the most. You need to level up 10 times before you can unlock a new champion, which makes the game feel like a grind.

The main comparison everyone seems to be making between Paladins and Overwatch is the similarity between its characters. There’s no denying it, Drogoz feels a lot like Pharrah and Fernando is essentially Reinhardt with a flamethrower. Paladins does have a few unique champions, though; Bomb King throws around tiny bombs that stick to surfaces, then explode. Overall, Paladins needs more unique champions if they want to survive.

The biggest gimmick in Paladins ’ arsenal has to be its card system, which allows players to slightly customize their kits: cards can increase the range of weapons, give champions more health etc. You get cards by opening Chests (not Loot Boxes, that’s Overwatch’s thing) or by crafting them with gold or crystals. There are special Burn Cards that can be earned by completing objectives, though I have yet to get a hang of how these work.

Overwatch is popular because it’s simple to pick up but incredibly hard to master. There’s no micromanaging before a game, you just jump right in and play. League of Legends requires a ton of setup before a match starts and if you mess up your masteries you are at a major disadvantage. Paladins’ card system adds a little bit of complication to character genre, without overwhelming players. Each champion has four pre-designed decks, so you can ignore the cards if you want to.   

Paladins is fun, fast and has mounts. I will be playing more in the coming weeks, writing guides and figuring out if this game really could overtake Overwatch .

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