It’s been a rough time to be an Overwatch fan. Between questionable design decisions, an uncertain future for the Overwatch League, and continued problems with community toxicity, Overwatch has seen better days. That’s not to say the game is in decline – far from it. Plenty of players still play it every day and the Overwatch League is still going strong despite its numerous difficulties.
That said, sometimes you just want to get away from the drama. But where to escape? There aren’t many games out there that directly compete with Overwatch. However, they do exist. But which one can provide just enough of a change from the usual Overwatch formula while scratching the same itch? You’ve probably heard of one such competitor named Paladins, by Hi-Rez Studios. And we’re here to nominate Paladins as your go-to hero shooter for when the problems of Overwatch get to be too much.
We’re not the only ones who believe Paladins to be a great alternative to Overwatch. While the overall number of Paladins players has remained steady in recent times, some fed up Overwatch players have made the switch. Take a look at some of the more recent Steam reviews for Paladins and you’ll find some comparing the game favorably against its Blizzard-developed competitor.
But what specifically makes Paladins such a good alternative to Overwatch? Let’s go over five big reasons why you might want to give Paladins a shot if you’re tired of Overwatch.
More (and more interesting) characters
Blizzard used to be renowned for their character design. However, with Overwatch, they’ve ever so slightly lost their touch. The characters they’ve created for Overwatch just don’t have the same level of originality and depth of characters they’ve created in the past. Soldier 76 could’ve had a more original backstory to offset his deliberately designed generic kit. And while Blizzard supposedly prides itself off of creating a diverse cast of characters for Overwatch, their diversity pledge can often ring hollow, and at times seems more like pandering.
Paladins, on the other hand, has over 40 characters to choose from, compared to Overwatch’s 32. Furthermore, the fantasy setting of Paladins arguably allows for more interesting backstories to be crafted around their characters.
Drogoz is my favorite of the bunch – he’s effectively a dragon with disabilities: he cannot fly, or breathe fire. So what does he do to compensate for those? Grab a jetpack and a rocket launcher! I much prefer playing Drogoz than his Overwatch counterpart Pharah. Pharah has an ambiguous background that not even Blizzard seem to be 100% are sure what to do with.
No, we’re not talking about cosmetics. Cosmetics may be one area in which Overwatch has beaten Paladins. But in terms of actual gameplay, Paladins has a lot more moving parts than Overwatch. Each character in Paladins can have a loadout of cards that tweak their base abilities, allowing them to be adapted to different play styles. 20 cards per character plus the ability to rank them from 1 to 5 points means you have a lot of combinations of these cards to choose from.
Further adding to character customization are Talents. These are traits that either seriously enhance or change one of the base moves in your character’s kit. If a character appeals to you, picking the right Talent can help cement that character to your play style.
In addition to all of this, there are items you can buy in-game that further fine-tune your chosen champion’s performance. Those can be set to auto-buy if you don’t want to deal with that many levels of customization. There’s a lot to be said about the strategic depth of Paladins compared to Overwatch.
An actual draft phase for Ranked games
Speaking of strategic depth, let’s talk about one feature in Overwatch no one bothers to use: the ability to change characters mid-match. Since doing so resets your ultimate meter, the incentive to change heroes – even when your team is getting its collective behind served to it on a plate – is small.
No one bothers to switch heroes in Overwatch, and Paladins does away with this feature entirely. In its place, at least for Ranked games, it has something better – the draft phase!
The draft phase in Paladins works sort of like it would in your typical MOBA. Players take turns making picks and bans for their team.
Many who have compared the two hero shooters have praised Paladins‘ inclusion of this system, which makes a lot more sense than Blizzard’s hero pools in a competitive environment. Being able to control who’s banned makes more sense in the end, than the developer banning for you.
A tighter-knit community
Let’s face it, there are jerks in every community. Both Overwatch and Paladins have their fair share of undesirables. However, the case can be made for Paladins having a bit more of a bearable community. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that the Paladins community is smaller. While this looks unflattering on paper, a smaller community means you’re less likely to run into the jerks. When video game communities get large, they attract more trolls because there’s a bigger audience for them.
Another reason why the Paladins community is more bearable is because Hi-Rez invests in the Paladins community in ways Blizzard hasn’t been able to do with Overwatch. Hi-Rez’s YouTube channel for Paladins has lots of content powered by the community, from videos showcasing fan art to top plays made by the more skilled players. In a way it rewards being invested in the game.
Paladins also has the Assembly of Champions, a community organization which actively connects the developers and the players and ensures everyone is playing the same game. Overwatch has players angrily tweeting as Jeff Kaplan to nerf things.
All community experiences are subjective, we realize that. One person’s experience with a particular game’s community will be completely different from someone else’s. In this writer’s experience, though, the Paladins community has been more tolerable. Your mileage will of course vary.
Paladins is free to play, which isn’t the ideal way to play. If you’re going the F2P route, you’ll have to grind to unlock the characters you want to use. To get access to all the characters right away, you’ll need to buy the Champions Pack.
Even so, the Champions Pack is a good deal compared to the upfront cost you pay for Overwatch. The Champions Pack gets you instant access to all current Paladins characters plus any characters released in the future. At normal price, the Champions Pack for Paladins is $30, and is effectively the same as buying the whole game. That’s roughly as much as you would pay for a copy of Overwatch, but with one crucial difference – you don’t need to buy the Champions Pack to have fun with Paladins. In-game currency is easy to grind, and within a reasonable time you can have access to all the champions anyway.
Is Paladins perfect? Of course not. No game can be considered the “perfect game.” There are definitely flaws with Paladins, but Overwatch has plenty of flaws of its own. That is why the existence of Paladins as competition to Blizzard’s hero shooter is so important. Competition destroys complacency, and Blizzard would be wise not to get careless with Overwatch.