The Paladins Switch release is a real coup for Hi-Rez. Not only does the developer capitalise on the lack of competition on Switch, but it also shows that the genre can and does work on Nintendo’s console.
Ever since Blizzard said it wasn’t going to bring Overwatch to Switch, Nintendo fans have rightly felt left out. Overwatch is one of the most popular games in the world and it snubbing Switch hurts.
Never fear though, Hi-Rez is here to save the day. Paladins Switch Edition is a genuinely incredible port of an equally excellent game. It should be right at home on any Switch owners console and is well worth your time and money.
Paladins Switch Review
Comparison between Overwatch and Paladins are impossible at this point, but they are very different games. It’s like saying that Battlefield and Call of Duty are clones of each other.
Sure, they share a genre, an aesthetic and similarities, but functionally they’re totally different from one another. In Paladins, you play as a Champion of the Realm. The Realm is a fantasy-themed world with steampunk, magic and Tolkien-esque influences.
Each Champion has a range of abilities and an ultimate that deal damage, heal, cause buffs and debuffs and change the flow of each battle.
It’s incredibly shortsighted to label Paladins an Overwatch clone. It’s simply not true.
Strategy is king
Paladins’ two modes are Deathmatch and Siege. Deathmatch is as it sounds, but Siege is where the real fun is. Here, two teams work to capture a point and then push the payload. So far, so similar.
The differences lie in Paladins mechanics and systems.
Each team only has five players and characters can’t be changed mid-battle. As you play you earn points which can be spent in match to improver a variety of your character’s stats. And finally, there are no spawn changes. Each and every time you die, you return to the orginal spawn point.
To get you back into the action more quickly, Champions ride mounts which can also be upgraded and augmented. In addition to upgrading you Champion on the fly, you’re able to create a range of loadouts using the charater cards associated with each Champion.
Loadouts are where a huge amount of strategy comes into play.
Do you want to improve damage output or reduce the cooldown of your abilities? Is it more important to move quickly or heal your allies more effectively?
Making these loadouts gives you up to six options when you enter a match. Based on what your opponents have chosen, you can make an educated guess as to what you’ll need to take into battle. It’s far more about strategy than just shooting the other team.
Finally, Paladins has more in common with MOBAs than Overwatch does. Players can suffer status changes like slow, stun, poison and burning which changes how you take and deal damage and how you’ll need to play to survive.
There’s lots going on in Paladins, so you always feel on your toes. It’s a real rush.
Paladins on Switch
Playing Paladins on Switch is great. It’s clear that some visual sacrifices had to be made, but overall it’s a great experience.
The framerate remains rock solid no matter what is happening on screen and even in handheld mode, it’s easy to discern what’s happening and where.
In fact, playing in handheld mode is my preferred way to play. It frees up the TV and feels responsive and action-packed even on the smaller screen.
Paladins did crash back to the home screen on several occasions, which was painful and there’s no way to report players on Switch that I could find. But these are minor issues which will likely be rectified in future patches.
Paladins on Switch is a great game and all Switch owners should be jumping in with both feet.
Original Review Follows
It’s been a couple of months now since we saw the official release of Paladins. A free-to-play, team-based, hero shooter that has been in early access since September 2016. Some people thought it would never see a full release and hide behind the early access screen for a long time.
However, developer Hi-Rez has made a commitment to its players with the official launch by locking in the current monetisation system and game mechanics.
This is good news for all current and new players as it means the developer can focus instead on balancing the champions and Paladins itself.
Paladins has seen some controversy during its time in early access. Initially, Paladins was accused of copying Overwatch with a similar premise and some hero abilities seeming almost identical.
There have also been iterations of monetisation systems that have come very close to a pay-to-win model. The “cards unbound” fiasco was where the core mechanic for upgrading and customising Hero abilities was essentially crammed into a loot box style system.
It certainly wasn’t a good look. Thankfully, in the lead up to full launch, Hi-rez saw the light and found a happy medium between balance and monetisation. Free players start with access to five-set heroes — champions as they are called in Paladins — as well as access a rotating pool of four others.
Paladins, it’s not Overwatch
The rest of the roster of 37 champions can be obtained with either in-game currency earned through play, through the cash store, or by buying one of the various unlock packs.
No longer are balance skewing items locked behind a paywall either. All cards and champion perks are accessible to any player who owns that champion. Now, only cosmetic items are to be found in loot boxes and unlike other games, you won’t get duplicate items from these.
There is also now a Battle Pass which some may be familiar with from other games such as Fortnite. Purchasing the Battle Pass grants access to an extra form of progression and access to exclusive cosmetics.
With nothing that hinders or enhances gameplay locked away in a cash store and loot boxes with guaranteed new items, I think this is honestly one of the fairest monetisation systems I have seen in a free-to-play game in recent times.
Loot, not Pay-to-Win
Gameplay wise, Paladins is no clone. Yes, it is a hero shooter like Overwatch and yes, it has a payload objective on a cart to push from point A to B. But both of these games owe a lot more to Team Fortress 2 than they do to each other.
Each Champion in Paladins feels unique to play, and they are all fun.
I made sure I played each and every one and sure, the mechanics of some appeal more than others but I never once felt like any of them were a drag to play.
The unique loadout system lets you customize the champions abilities, allowing you to really make each one your own.
Fun and free?
Matches in Paladins are usually pretty short. This is great because you cant change champions mid-battle. It also makes Paladins extremely casual friendly. Got 5-minutes and want a game? With very short queue times its almost always doable.
This is also due to the fact that there is a pretty decent player base with a current average of over 17,000 players online on Steam and more using the standalone PC game.
With Paladins already available on major consoles and the recent release on Switch, it is a shame that accounts don’t work across platforms. I’d love to be able to take my PC account on the road with the Switch and use the champions I have already unlocked for some portable mayhem.
That aside I think Paladins is a lot of fun, unique in gameplay, if not in premise, and well worth a look in if you enjoy team based shooters with a lot of variety.
Paladins was reviewed on Switch using a digital code and Founders Pack, provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Paladins
Incredible Port - 9.5/10
Plays amazingly in handheld mode - 9/10
Cross-Play with Xbox One - 8.5/10