Written by Pat Kerley
Fast, fun and chaotic at times, Paladins Champions of the Realm (Paladins) is a 5 vs 5 free to play multiplayer shooter that uses a creative system to customise how your character plays.
Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, the award-winning, critically acclaimed game was developed by Evil Mojo Games and published by Hi-Rez Studios. Does Paladins excel enough to stand out amongst the ever-growing sea of multiplayer shooters? Let’s find out.
There is little to no story explored in Paladins, which is a disappointment as the characters that are playable in this game seem to be full of personality, from a self-proclaimed knight like Fernando who wields a flamethrower to a Bomb King who is literally a giant bomb. I believe there’s a character for everyone in this game and it is a shame as most them only get a simple line or two of text during a loading screen that will inform you about little details on the champions.
As of right now, there are a whopping total of 39 characters to play as, with new champions being released at a steady pace along with patches to invigorate new life into the game and keep it well balanced.
The gameplay itself is fast, fun and chaotic at times With its multiple modes, from its main mode Siege to Onslaught and Team Deathmatch the game can seem anarchic at times. Siege mode is the biggest draw of this game in my opinion.
In a nutshell, you must capture a certain point and once the point is captured a payload appears. It’s then up to you and your team to defend it from reaching your side of the map or pushing it into your opponents. You can have a serious amount of fun with this mode and when both teams are evenly matched it can become quite the intense battle as you fight for victory.
You’ll most likely be spending most of your time in Siege due to it being the only mode that has ranked gameplay as well as being the only way to progress in the battle pass. Onslaught is a more simplistic game mode where you must hold an area longer than the opposing team, its good for a quick game as they don’t take long to complete. Team Deathmatch is as you would expect, with a very quick pace to it, you respawn in mere seconds and is a great way of having mindless fun as each team tries to reach 40 kills to come out on top. For those looking to perfect their moves and get more of a feel for the game, there is also a practice mode where you can experiment with characters and get a grasp for the controls.
The gameplay is fluid and responsive. You have five moves for each character, a primary attack along with a secondary, a move that allows for quick mobility and last but not least a move that relates to what type your champion is. There is also a super move that builds up over the course of the game that if used correctly can tip the scale of victory in your favour.
There are four types of champions, you have Damage, their name is pretty self-explanatory, but these guys are there to deal out as much damage as the possibly can. You then have Flanks, a shifty little crew of characters that are the most mobile and are best at getting the sneak on opponents. Frontlines come next, these are the tanks of the team, there to absorb the damage directed at your team like a sponge. Then you have Healers, the ones that make sure you don’t die by healing health. It is a solid design and during my time playing, I found that if you didn’t make a balanced team around these roles, then you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle most of the time.
One of the more interesting factors about this game is the number of customization options that are available to optimize a champion and create different methods of using them. You have talents for each character which can have a drastic change to how you play. Take the lovable sentient three Grover; he is primarily a healer but if you decide to use his “ferocity” talent then he deals more damage the further away he is from his foe. This blurs the line between a healer and damage with Grover and it is done with a handful of other characters as well.
You then have loadouts where you have a deck of 16 cards in groups of four that usually relate to the four primary moves of each character. These improve whichever move you wish. You have a total of five spaces with each card taking up one point with a total of 15 points to improve these cards. This type of customization can lead to drastically different playstyles and if you do come up against the same champion while playing, it is highly likely he will play a bit differently. It’s a fantastic system that isn’t too deep to throw off new players, yet I believe deep enough for those who wish to experiment with characters will have hours to dig into it.
The soft and colourful art style of the game is easy on the eyes and brimming with personality, from its large cast with wonderful and weird designs to the areas where you do battle that is spacious and great for combating against others. However, the music is just bland and never pops out, you have the main menu and waiting tracks that you will come to grow accustomed to if you play the game regularly, but everywhere else I failed to even recognise music playing at all and that’s a bad sign for a music track.
A big problem people have with free to play games are the microtransactions, but I can safely say that Paladins has a great stance on them. While you can pay to unlock all the characters in the game along with any new champions that are released, they are all unlockable through the currency you earn in game. This gives the game a great deal of replayability as you unlock one character at a time and is very consumer friendly.
There are emotes, costumes and other such things as voice packs that require you to pay straight up for them, most you’ll need real-world money for them, though a handful and be attained through the currency that you can earn in game. No advantage is gained in-game from these transactions and is more a form of self-expression in the game. There are a handful of smaller things that allow you to gain more experience and currency in the game through quests and a battle pass.
Overall Paladins Champions of the Realm is an addictively fun yet competitive online multiplayer game with solid, distinctive gameplay and an intriguing customization system that delivers a surprising amount of replayability. While the game has some issues with a less than stellar soundtrack, the odd glitch to be found and a missed opportunity for a story. I have to say it is one of the best online multiplayer games to play now, especially since it’s being free to play. Paladins Champions of the Realm is a must buy game.
If you’re looking for games like Paladins, games such as Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 might quench that itch and if you liked this piece be sure to check out our content on our website.