Friday, 27 January 2017

Paladins: The Poor Man's Overwatch?

So, Hi Rez studios has had a new team-based FPS in beta for quite some time now called Paladins. Two groups of five compete against each other, usually battling over control points and / or payloads that must be escorted until one of the teams emerges victorious. It's pretty standard stuff for the genre, but one thing in particular is very difficult to ignore in the game: its characters.

While aesthetically, they're reasonably unique, or at least so much as this is possible without them feeling completely out of place in an FPS, they have a lot of moves very similar to those in Overwatch's roster. We could be here all day making comparisons. Whether its Reinhardt, Roadhog, Pharah, Reaper, or Torbjorn, or others, you'll finding a very noticeable analog running down the corridors of Paladins.

What's resulted is a mix of people taking pot shots at the game for being so similar, and others embracing it as an alternative since they don't want to play Overwatch for whatever reason, but still would like a similar experience. Personally, I find it difficult to go after Hi Rez too hard. It's not uncommon for certain types of characters to become archetypal over time in a genre, with variants slowly making their way into a number of games. We could just as easily point a finger at Overwatch for doing the same thing. After all, how many of its characters bare a striking resembles aesthetically or gameplay-wise to the cast of Team Fortress 2? Quite a few.

This isn't to say that two wrongs suddenly make a right, but as genres of games develop or a certain period in its development really begins to take form, similarities will begin to take root across a number of games in said genre. Whether it was the legions of fighting games that copied ideas from Street Fighter II in the 90s, 3D platformers taking cues from Super Mario 64, or everyone hopping on the hotkey-based MMORPG in the wake of World of Warcraft, there have been plenty of times where we've seen this pattern of several games in a genre absorbing, and sometimes quite blatantly, ideas from their peers. It's the nature of the business.

While Paladins has obviously taken several ideas from Overwatch, it still feels just different enough not to come off as an obnoxious clone, and for the most part it's proving to be reasonably entertaining, even with the game still in beta. I'd definitely recommend folks take a look at the game if they're curious. It's certainly worth one's time.