Paladins has been in open beta on PC since September and has just launched its closed beta on PS4 and Xbox One. On the surface it’s easy to dismiss Paladins as a simple Overwatch clone, but once you dive in; there’s much more than meets the eye.
It’s undeniable that there are many similarities. Both titles feature two teams fighting for an objective. There are abilities, ultimates and overtime. Even some of the characters bear a striking resemblance to one another, but that’s where it ends.
Paladins plays very differently. It’s a very different game. Speaking to Hayden “Haydz” Shiels, Captain of Paladins eSports team Abyss, gave us the lowdown. “Paladins is a lot more strategic,” he told us. Nearly half the game come’s down to the draft. With the champions, drafting with the maps, the cards and the decks you build.”
In Paladins, players don’t just pick a character and go. They need to build the character’s attributes through the collectible card meta game. Shiels explained that some characters in Paladins rely heavily on the right cards. “One of the character’s named Barik is a tank, but without the Healing Station card he just dies too quickly. He’s hopeless unless you have that card.”
Building characters from the right cards is only part of the strategy. Unlike Overwatch, once a character has been selected you’re stuck with them for the entire match. “It’s so important to get it [character selection] right before the game because you can’t switch.
“You can lose the game. Even the best team against an average team if they stuff up the map or character draft.”
Shiels is somewhat of an expert on both titles, coming from a top 3 Overwatch team in Australia. He told us that on seeing Paladins release, he and his team thought they could win, as it’s similar to Overwatch — “Five of our players came over to Paladins and since then we’ve been undefeated.” Abyss’ win streak isn’t just luck or skill either. A huge amount of planning and preparation goes into each match.
It’s actually heavily about the planning and the drafting. So we’ve actually got a different google doc for each team. With every stat on every champion, every kill, every game they’ve ever played. How many time’s they’ve picked the champions. How may times they’ve banned the champions, everything.
Shiels and his team treat Paladins matches with an almost Moneyball style of stat reverence. Abyss has averages for everything, win percentages, loss percentages and more. Shiels told us that Abyss has originally hired someone to build it for them, but he wasn’t happy. “I redid it all,” he says matter-of-factly.
All of the hard work is clearly paying off, especially as Abyss went on to win the Paladins Oceania Championships, earning a spot at Paladins World Invitational during the Hi-Rez Expo.
Paladins has far more in common with strategy titles and MOBAs than it does with shooters, despite Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris’ comments that it’s inspired by Team Fortress 2. Overwatch is very much a game of skill, with strategy accounting for a very small amount in most matches.
Paladins on the other hand, lives and dies by strategy. Skill is required, but it’s not so reliant on pixel perfect shooting or your ability to run rings around an opponent. Teams simply must work together in Paladins and a lone-wolf will fail even more spectacularly than in Overwatch. It’s far more punishing, yet at the same time, more rewarding when the strategy pays off.
It’s easy to dismiss Paladins as a clone, but that would be a mistake. Especially if you’re a fan of strategy and team based shooters. If you’re great in Overwatch why not take Shiels’ lead and have a go. You never know where it might lead.
Paladins is in open beta on PC and closed beta on PS4 and Xbox One.