Paladins: Champions of the Realm has had quite the journey since first launching into early access in 2016.
A free-to-play hero shooter that came out during a time where Overwatch was king, you could have dismissed Paladins for being a “clone” or an attempt to cash-in on a trend. There are still some elements that are heavily reminiscent of the times I spent playing Blizzard’s shooter in its prime, but Paladins has managed to carve its own identity, officially launching out of its early access form in May 2018.
With it comes a loyal player-base and a competitive hero shooter that is fun to play – and even better, free to experience. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch has been picking up steam of its own, proving to be a great platform for indie developers and with a player base that is hungry for new content. Paladins, then, is unlike anything else available on the popular console, and smartly has been released to capitalize on this before its competitors had the opportunity.
There are 36 Champions in Paladins, a pretty beefy roster that all have their strengths and weaknesses, with Damage, Flank, Frontline and Support classes providing that need to collaborate to a point with your teammates. I enjoyed picking a random one each game and experimenting with their moves across the games main modes, the standard Deathmatch, control point based Onslaught and the payload carrying style of Siege.
Siege is definitely where you’ll spend the majority of your time, battling to gain control of said payload and moving it across the map. A wrinkle that sets Paladins apart some more is the talent card system. Chosen at the start of each match and then purchasable throughout (sort of like a MOBA), you can cater these to your play-style, giving some more layers to the gameplay once you’re comfortable.
Paladins runs surprisingly well on the Nintendo Switch, which pleasantly surprised me and others who watch me play. It manages to run at the promised 60 frames per second despite the odd bit of slowdown, and resolution of course drops, particularly when in handheld mode. There are also some slightly longer load times when getting into a match, but that’s to be expected and certainly not a deal-breaker.
Hi-Rez have done a brilliant job of bringing their game over from beefier platforms, perhaps one the best job so far out of all developers who have attempted the same. The biggest compliment I can give it is that the experience is comparable to the time I’ve spent with Paladins on my Xbox One, proving that the platform is more than capable of running a game of this type successfully with minimal difference. Plus, you can play it cross-platform with Xbox One anyway, which is a major plus (take notes, Sony).
The downside to Paladins on Switch, at least right now, is that you need to invest in a Founders Pack before you’re able to play. Thirty bucks certainly isn’t a lot of money compared to other full price releases, but when the game is free on all other platforms (and eventually free on the Switch later this year), it’s a tough pill to swallow. It does give you access to all Champions straight away, plus extra skins and a cool mount. Oh, and I guess the other downside is still having to use a third party app for voice chat, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.
Despite the initial cash investment, I can’t think of a better competitive multiplayer experience available on the Nintendo Switch today, and that should be a ringing endorsement for anybody who wants to get their fix. Paladins: Champions of the Realm is available right now for the Switch and across all platforms.