Game review on Steam, Playstation 4
Aman Shekhar / Sun 16th Jul 2017
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Paladins is a first-person, team-based shooter developed by Hi-Rez Studios. The game is still in its beta and most of all, it's free to play on all platforms.
What sets this game apart is the fact that it feels more like a MOBA game and not just a standard FPS.
STORYLINE There isn't much in this department as it's an online game but short back stories of the champions can be found on the developer's youtube channel.
Paladins is an online team-based shooter. There are a plethora of champions at your disposal and each of them are equipped with a unique set of powers which help them excel at their specific roles.
Currently, the game has three modes: Siege, Onslaught and Payload. The champions are divided into 4 categories, Frontlines, Support, Damage and Flanks.
As a 5v5 multiplayer, the game does not lower its skill ceiling but redefines skill. A player with only an accurate aim will always be trumped by a player possessing good team skills and game sense. Knowing when to engage, when to regroup and using your abilities at an opportune moment can be the difference between winning or losing.
There is a lot of diversity among the characters. When you hit the battlefield with any of the 29 champions, no two champions feel alike. Be it the friendly support Pip or the greedy dragon Drogoz, every champion has a different feel to them which makes learning them all the more fun without threatening to be monotonous.
Each champion has 4 abilities; these are subject to cooldowns, which is the case for most of the champions. There is also an ultimate ability which does not have a specific cooldown but recharges when you play your champion to its full potential. What sets Paladins apart is the level of customisation you can have for each champion. You can have various loadouts which perform different tasks. At the start of the match, you have the option of selecting one in three legendary cards which drastically alters your champion. Credits can be obtained during the game which can be spent on buying abilities.
This level of customisation makes Paladins a very strategic game. Learning to counter your opponents with in-game abilities and choosing specific abilities which help in reducing the enemy champions' effectiveness is crucial. This exposes the game's biggest flaw - balance. With the champions being unique, some are far better than others and have a relatively lower skill ceiling. As there isn't a tutorial at the beginning, players find themselves playing the game as any other FPS which inevitably results in a snowballing effect if the enemy is coordinated. The matchmaking system is horrid and often pairs up players with a low win rate against a highly coordinated or a skilled team.
Players with different skill levels being paired up just isn't fun for anyone and is a catalyst in driving people away from the game. The game also has most of the champions and cards locked. Although they can be unlocked via in game currency, the sparse currency gain doesn't help the process.
Paladins isn't realistic in its design. The art style is a bit "sketchy" but it's beautiful nonetheless.
The map designs are not extraordinary but the game is still in its beta phase and has a lot of room for improvement.
AUDIO The soundtrack for the game is not very memorable and doesn't stand out. The champions, on the other hand, have unique and mesmerising voice lines which help build a connection between the player and the champion. The voice lines suit the champions' persona perfectly and make the game a lot more engaging.
Paladins is undoubtedly one of the best free to play games and an incredible achievement in the multiplayer shooter category. However, the developers' lack of focus on platform specific balancing has made this game increasingly frustrating to play.
That being said, it is still undoubtedly fun and if you are uncertain about MOBA shooters, Paladins is a good place to start. It might not have an extensive number of game modes or a long list of maps but it makes up for it with exhilarating, team-based action to keep you engrossed for hours on end.