PALADINS IS STILL IN EARLY ACCESS ON NINTENDO SWITCH
While it was hardly a secret leading up to its announcement and subsequent release, Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins is more than a pleasant surprise on Switch. Having had a full week to sink my teeth into it and put the game through its paces after E3, I’ve been really impressed with what is a very enjoyable hero shooter — which is, of course, something the Switch has been notably lacking so far.
First thing’s first: Paladins is different to Overwatch. Besides being a part of the same genre and having similar styled modes, Paladins has some notable differences that distinguish itself from the widely popular hero shooter.
Key to that differentiation is the surprisingly diverse structure to the way Paladins plays. There’re hints of MOBA gameplay sprinkled in there (like being locked into a character choice and unable to change during a match), as well as the core of a hero shooter and some card-based stat play as well. The latter is perhaps the biggest changeup in the way you play through the game, with a selection of card loadouts offered up to you prior to each match kicking off that alter stats of your champion. Support characters can become full-on damage dealers, or they could heal more of an ally’s health depending on the cards you pick prior to jumping into a match, and add another layer of strategy to proceedings.
The system itself is fascinating, and allows for a lot of experimentation depending on how you take to particular characters and their abilities. I often found myself trying particular builds of characters and seeing how they differ, and there’s definitely enough of a change there to make an impact on the way you play the game.
For the most part, Paladins offers up two fairly distinct game modes. One is called Siege, which is your tried-and-true hero shooter mode where players escort a payload to a particular location to score points. The other is Deathmatch, which rotates between a team deathmatch mode and Onslaught, which has two teams of five going at it to take control of a central area (think king of the hill) and hold it until the score cap is reached.
While none of the modes are particularly groundbreaking, what’s here still makes for a fairly rounded multiplayer experience. I’d love to see some more added to the game over time, though for what it’s worth Siege, Team Deathmatch, and Onslaught are different enough from one another to keep you engaged for long periods of time — especially when you’re playing with mates. That said, I did find Siege matches harder to come by, with most players seemingly only keen on deathmatch modes for the most part. Whether that’s to do with the fact I’m playing on Aussie servers (and there just aren’t that many players on) or the $45 Founders Pack’s blocking out would-be Switch players, I’m not too sure. For what it’s worth, I did find Onslaught games without issue.
It’s also worth mentioning that Paladins does match you up with bots at times, especially before you get your account up to level 5. I found that it was a great way of learning the basics, though — especially if you aren’t that familiar with hero shooters and objective-based gameplay — and allowed me to experiment with a bunch of characters to get a feel for the ones I liked the most. The queueing time here was, understandably, quite short, with queue times for Siege and deathmatch modes reaching up to four minutes after hitting level 5.
From a technical standpoint, Paladins on Switch is a great port. It’s impressive in the way the game almost always manages to achieve a 60fps lock, all the while looking great on the TV or in handheld mode. It’s still an early access game, though, and there are some bugs alongside long loading times that I hope are worked on as the Switch version of the game continues to evolve. I also had some crashes take me out of the experience mid-game, as well as some weird audio issues that would pop in and out sporadically. While it was nothing too frustrating to deal with, it did tend to pull me out of the immersion.
Paladins on Switch is great. It fills a large blemish in the Switch’s library, and I can definitely see a lot of players really getting into it when the game eventually goes free to play later this year. There’s a lot of content to get through, and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with all of the 36 available champions on offer right now. Besides some technical issues and long queueing times, what’s here is a very adept multiplayer shooter, and I’m hopeful that Hi-Rez continue to support it in the years to come.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Paladins fills a fairly significant gap in the Switch’s library, and should hopefully continue to grow as a great multiplayer shooter on the system. Some general bugs and long queue times aside, what’s here is - generally - an excellent experience.