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 PC using a digital code and Founders Pack, provided by the publisher.
Game title: Paladins
Great monetisation model - 9/10
Variety in Champtions - 8/10
Fast paced gameplay - 7.8/10
Unique setting and style - 8.7/10