Paladins: How often do you get to see a gnome inside a robot riding a horse?
In terms of making competitive online multiplayer games, Hi-Rez has already proven itself with the Tribes series and SMITE. Even though they have been quite busy with SMITE-- probably due to esports' increasing popularity -- they unveiled a brand new PC game in August: Paladins, Champions of the Realm.
Now if a name like Paladins makes you think of knights in shiny armour, war horses galloping and brave warrior rescuing kingdoms (Don't feel bad. I thought that too.) you might be disappointed to hear that there isn't that much of that in the game itself. Instead, what you will see is a furry...no, an anthropomorphic mammal (a lombax perhaps) firing toxic flasks, a probably self-appointed knight using a flame thrower and a gnome inside a robot hovering around like it owns the place. It might not seem like your type of game, but wait! How often do you see a gnome inside a robot riding a horse?
The game plays like a first-person MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) where two teams of five champions battle to hold capture points on the map, similar to King of the Hill. Holding the point long enough deploys a siege tower that will help the team blast open the opposite team's vault.
What really differs from the other MOBAs, in my opinion, is the use of cards. Instead of buying items in-game with gold, you will have to choose among three cards drawn from your deck every time you level up. The chosen card will not only grant you a passive power-up but it also increases the maximum health and the damage output of the champion. The amount by which it increases depends on the chosen card.
Right off the bat, I thought the cards were a strange but wonderful idea. The only downside is that, so far, this system is slightly based on luck. You could start the game with a great card that boosts your main weapon, but on the other hand, you could have the choice of three cards that only benefit that one ability you never really use. I tried believing in the heart of the cards, more than once, but I guess that stuff only works on TV.
Now I would like to focus your attention on the mounts. So far, horses are the only option but I am sure that with later updates the game will offer a wide range of different mounts. Are the horses really necessary? It seems that the Hi-Rez developers wanted to keep some things that resonate with the word paladins so much that they did not think how ridiculous that could be (again, with the robot riding a horse).
While this is ridiculous indeed, the gameplay has a lot of running around and getting to point A to point B and the mounts are the fastest option. Those segments of the game are not particularly exhilarating as the champions are unable to fight while riding. I understand that riding is a key element of the game, and I enjoy it to some degree, but it would be nice to have an alternative.
Even though the game is still in beta phase and, of course, there are still a few bugs here and there, it's pretty darn fun and addictive. If you haven't done so yet, I suggest trying to grab an access key as soon a possible. The game can only improve.
For those who would like more information, check out the beginner's guide.