With both Overwatch and Battleborn kicking off their respective beta tests over the weekend, the class-based multiplayer shooter arena is beginning to heat up. Also in the mix alongside these games (and the long-standing champ of the genre, Team Fortress 2) is Hi-Rez’s Paladins – and from what we played of it at this year’s PAX Australia, it’s well worth investigating
Paladins is a class-based multiplayer fantasy first person shooter that sees two teams of champions battle over control points before escorting a siege weapon and laying down fire on the enemy base. This might sound complicated – but it’s really not. My description of choice would characterize it as a fusion of Team Fortress 2 and Heroes of the Storm.
Like a lot of it’s MOBA-esque competitors, it’s got a really vibrant and colorful art style. However, unlike its competition, it commits to a single consistent fantasy aesthetic rather than the “all-stars” approach that a lot of MOBAs take – though there are some sprinkles of science fiction here and there. Hi-Rez have thus far revealed about half a dozen playable champions but more are expected to join the fray as the game approaches beta.
The match of the game I played saw me take control of Fernando – a knight who could charge into the fray and incinerate foes with a flamethrower – as well as enter a defensive stance and block enemy projectiles with his shield. I found that his mix of defensive and offensive abilities really let me decide whether I wanted to play him as a frontline shock trooper capable of rushing enemies or a valuable asset for my team during encounters capable of easily helping secure objectives.
The other big innovation Paladins features is its unique card based leveling system. Completing objectives and fighting enemies rewarded me experience and – when you level up – you customize your character by choosing from a number of ability cards. From what I could tell, the later in the game you chose a card the greater its impact would be. I could go for a 5% increase to my health at the start of the match or hold onto that card and gain a 25% increase in the latter half of the match. It wasn’t quite clear if this layer of meta-strategy would stretch across different matches but the idea of managing a deck of upgrade cards sounds like a recipe for a compelling, competitive experience.
As far as multiplayer gaming experiences go, Paladins was immediately fun and I left the demo absolutely committed to playing more. The small player count kept the action tight, the UI did a great job of helping you learn the map and not waste time and – importantly – it felt like every player on your team was contributing during fights. That said, one area I did find it lacking compared to its competitors was that playable champions lacked the personality of the roster in games like TF2 or MOBAs like League of Legends.
I came away from Paladins really impressed and super keen to pick the game back up as it heads into early-access in the coming months. You can visit the Paladins website to find out more and sign up for the game’s early access.