Paladins (Episode 94)
THE GRINDSTONE TRIBUNAL:
The common consensus in the video is the common consensus in the Tribunal… to varying degrees or positivity and negativity. See who you side with when Dreskar, Karochi, Dobar, and myself offer up a much more direct take on this clone saga.
Paladins is a game that I hated from my time within its earliest betas. It was just a generic arena shooter with a god awful card mechanic that ensured you could never actually balance for the extreme amount of RNG. You were either blessed by the RNG gods and got the cards you needed for your build, or you were screwed over and constantly on the back foot just from bad draws. It was a mechanic that needed to be axed as quickly as possible and thankfully Hi-Rez did just that. The real shame of it is that Hi-Rez took out everything else that made it even marginally unique and instead opted to copy the new hot shit of the moment, Overwatch. Old characters were completely revamped to be more like Overwatch, mechanics were removed to be more like Overwatch, Ultimates were added to be more like Overwatch, Play of the fucking game known here as Top Plays is from Overwatch in a 1 for 1 remake.
I fully understand why Hi-Rez did it, much like Blizzard crying about how their precious MOBA Heroes of the Storm wasn’t king of the mountain top and started copying those that were more successful, even adding the awful KDA system. Hell Hi-Rez is doing the exact same thing, by copying concepts from Overwatch wholesale while deflecting criticism by saying “we came first” or “It is in beta” as if somehow those justify being a shitty company. Sure it will appease the pedants that enjoy the game, but anyone that is mature enough and honest enough with themselves will see right through the constant deflections from the developers that essentially amount to “Nuh uh, no we aren’t… la la la can’t hear you.”
What we do have now is a completely passable experience, one in which I don’t understand the fervor for it at all. I never much cared for hero shooters and prefer things that are balanced completely around skill instead of the mechanics of a particular character. Where balance can be achieved by adjusting weapons and tools that everyone uses instead of fully fixing a character at a time. This is to say nothing of the lack of content that is within a game that has been ‘out’ for years, I mean seriously 2 variations of the same game mode, a handful of maps, lazy palette swap cosmetics and barely enough champions to fill out a diverse roster? No thanks Hi-Rez, you can keep your lazy shit tier work, I have other games to play with actual content and depth to them.
I can’t say I would recommend this to a friend if pressed for a need and would probably offer up Team Fortress 2 as an alternative. Barring my distaste for TF2 as well it is by far a more competent shooter with a lot more variety and depth than Paladins offers while still being free. Lest we forget it also allows for modding, adding in tons of community content with maps and even entire new game modes. Paladins feels like it will be another endless beta, using it to deflect criticism while still asking for money and I just can’t give two shits if they want to use Early Access as a get out of jail free card or not. I am discussing what we have now, and what we have now I would insist on passing up instead of wasting my time.
Sure I had some fun when the chips were down and we were actually in tough matches against competent players in a back and forth struggle for the victory, but I can get that feeling in other games that don’t annoy the shit out of me. Games that are actually finished or come out of beta in a reasonable timeframe. Games that don’t just copy the current game of the week and instead try to be something unique and interesting, and Paladins is neither unique nor interesting.
Recommended?: NO, while I don’t enjoy it and others will, there are better choices out there.
Paladins is Overwatch minus four years of development time. It’s what you’d get if you removed all that bullshit about making any interesting mechanics, unique characters or counters. Every possible thing they’ve done in Paladins is half-assed as shit.
I was under no illusions when I downloaded the game, I’d played Overwatch and found the character I liked already so I was gonna play the Paladins rip-off of that. In this case it turned out to be “Drogoz”, a dragony-lizard man with a jetpack that allows him to quickly fly up into the air and then hover for a short while in the air and a rocket launcher. Sadly, as it turned out, the rocket launcher was actually designed by a fucking retard because it barely has enough splash damage to wake a sleeping baby.
So I picked Blue Shrek the support instead because I wanted to be helpful. While first thinking he’d be Mercy because of his beam staff, turns out all he could do for support was drop a totem AoE heal. The rest of his skill set was centered on running around being an annoying shit so it was the perfect match when I didn’t feel like getting anything done.
Paladins has already been through a phase of throwing out the extremely shit card mechanic they used to have, only to replace it with a completely uninteresting one, so it’s hard to say how it’ll be in the future. For now though, it’s complete and utter trash. The points at which this game feel fun to play would be much more fun to play in CS:GO or Overwatch because they are much more competent at their genres. Since in Paladins it happens far too often that “DROGOZ USED ‘FIRE SPIT’ TO INCREASE RECEIVED DAMAGE BY 30% FOR 4 SECONDS” gets countered by “VIKTOR USES ‘SHOOT DROGOZ WITH GUN’. DROGOZ IS DED.”
I am not generally a fan of arena shooters or MOBAs. I played about an hour of Team Fortress 2 before I quit and I can see that Overwatch might be one of the best games we reviewed this year, but it is not something I will pay $40 for. In fact, I generally do not like PVP in MMOs, especially forced PVP. I have over 3500 hours in Final Fantasy XIV and I have not once stepped into a PVP arena or dueled. Even the upcoming Garo X Final Fantasy XIV event will not convince me to do PVP.
I say this because I can see Paladins as a decent free alternative to Overwatch. While I never played the version of Paladins before it became an Overwatch clone, I think it should have stayed closer to what it was rather than trying to become a free Overwatch. Even though I do not play Overwatch, it is abundantly clear that a number of the characters in the game play like Overwatch characters. I would say that if you do not want to put down money on Overwatch, try out Paladins first to see if you like the style. If you own Overwatch, there is no point in even looking at Paladins, Overwatch is superior in many ways.
While I may not like this game and have already uninstalled it, I do not think it is a bad free to play game, if you are into the type of game. The problem is Paladins tries to be an Overwatch clone, and feels inferior to what it is trying to copy. I would say this game would be in the middle of the road of games we reviewed this year, nowhere near the worst and not the best. I had fun playing it with Grindstone, even though I was the worst player out there. I can see people liking it, but it just feels like inferior Overwatch now and if I was into the genre, I would be playing Overwatch and not this.
Recommended?: Yes, it is a free Overwatch clone and it is not terrible, but not something I am into.
I remember being rather annoyed that I wasn’t permitted into the Overwatch Beta. Blizzard was doing their usual thing of gating content to the special few, instead of letting a large group test their game, while Hi-Rez Closed Beta’s were usually a “Sure buddy, come on in!” situation. So that’s where I was first introduced to Paladins… and I just loved the concept. Having to scatter to a randomly chosen capture point was refreshing. Needing the horse to quickly traverse the huge open arena felt original. Watching the tank spawn, the music kick in and the teams fight to protect/destroy the tank, only to reach a fortified wall and help that tank blow away the defensive turrets and blast open the gate itself was tense and unique to arena shooters. The card mechanic made things feel interesting, like I never knew how the match was going to turn out, and only in retrospect, did I understand why it was such an issue for Dreskar. I recall how often my Cassie build would be completely assed because I’d draw three cards based on her useless dodge roll, instead of the damage increasing card that caused more damage from further away. Or how the enemy team would be unstoppable when their Fernando drew nothing but defense and health boosting cards at the start of the match. This new card system is less exciting, but a shit ton more fair.
So when I started seeing “lel Paladins is an Overwatch ripoff amirite right guyz?” being passed around, the Closed Beta version of the game was what was in my mind. I even recall seeing that infamous “Dunkey” video on Paladins that heavily mocked it for its Overwatch similarities. “That’s not fair!” I exclaimed to whoever I was chatting with in Discord. “That’s like saying Battleborn is an Overwatch ripoff! They’re fundamentally different games!”
So with all the talk of Paladins coming about again, I decided to redownload it on Steam and play a match…
“…they turned this game into Overwatch…” I realized with a sudden wave of deflation, after capturing a point to spawn a payload cart, and I immediately uninstalled it once the match was over.
Yet, the game kept getting praise… even from fairly high-end Youtubers who don’t normally shill for anyone. Even Team Marganars member turned French Youtube and Twitch sensation, LeSadPanda, praised the game on Twitter and ran tournaments among his fans. It made me feel I was being unfair, and I decided to give it one more shot by doing it as an official review.
And it’s still Overwatch.
BUT, there’s reasons I can see it being popular. Not as popular as it is, but still amusing enough to garner a fanbase.
Characters, despite some of their heavy reinventions, were kind of charming. I still especially love Ruckus, whose backstory consists of a king who transferred his soul into a sword upon his death, of which Ruckus then stole and melted down to make his mech-suit, so said King’s soul is now trapped in the suit, and in constant banter war with him. It’s a hilarious story and really endears me to the character. Not quite to the level of ISIC in Battleborn, but a bit close.
But the overall package just feels so unoriginal now. And the only thing worse than Hi-Rez just caving in to making “Overwatch: The Cheapening” is the legions of fanboys that act as if Paladins being first to playable somehow means all these ideas were always originally theirs. Sorry, Closed Beta didn’t have Ultimates, Sprays, Linear Maps, Evie with an Ice Block, Payload carts, or …well, it had loot crates. That’s kind of Hi-Rez’s thing now. Claiming that Paladins is the originator, no matter what Todd Harris’s post claimed about Global Agenda, is just foolish to anyone with eyes unblinded by zealous devotion. This would be like announcing a movie about a young boy’s struggles through a new town and discovering a dark secret, then after Harry Potter came out, changing the entire plot to be about dragons and magic, while keeping the basic idea and claiming you thought of it first.
Play of the Game is a bad idea. Sprays are unnecessary. Payload isn’t that interesting of a game mode. Be yourself, Paladins. I know you’re capable. But if you just want to be free Overwatch, then… Hey, free Overwatch!
Recommended?: YES. It’s solid enough, just not special. I’ve come to expect this from Hi-Rez after they turned SMITE into “3D League of Legends”