Paladins (Switch) Review
Class-based shooters are an interesting breed. Mostly borrowing from the first person shooter genre, there’s still plenty of strategy and positioning borrowed from real-time strategy games, and a lot of damage numbers and matchups you’d expect from role-playing games. Paladins is very much in this boat, throwing all of these elements together in a mostly satisfying method. Why did I say mostly? Well, read on…
Paladins does mostly retread the game path as other class-based shooters, offering a wide selection of champions with different roles and strengths. There’s a small selection of modes and maps, with an interesting take on moving a payload, with a neutral cart in the middle to capture for a point, then another point when you move it into the enemy base. The games are short enough to work well on the Switch in handheld play, too.
There’s a very wide variety of champions to play as, within different roles of support (healers), damage dealers, flankers and frontline (tanks). If you’re a veteran FPS player I’d recommend Viktor to start off with- he has a fairly generic and easy to understand skillset. But if you’re buying the Founders Pack and getting access to all the heroes, it’ll be fairly hard to find him before someone else does in the giant grid of unfamiliar heroes that mostly look similar at a glance.
This leads me into my main criticisms for Paladins- while the game is solid, and I am getting enough enjoyment out of the matches, everything else gets in the way of getting into games and having fun with it. Load times are frequent and long, with an annoying load screen after every single match just to look at results. The champion selection has a needlessly long countdown, followed by a 10-second countdown, and then another countdown in spawn, meaning you’ll be waiting nearly 2 minutes doing nothing before the action starts before every match.
All of that makes it hard enough to want to feel like a quick match because half of your time will be waiting. While it doesn’t directly affect gameplay, it still puts me off wanting to load it up at all.
The main user experience gripe I have that does affect gameplay is how Paladins uses visual design to communicate gameplay elements- it does a really poor job of it. Sometimes enemies will be yellow instead of red, and allies will be green instead of blue, and I’m still not 100% sure why yet. Healing is communicated with tiny particle effects that are lost in the heat of combat unless you’re actually being healed directly.
And then champion abilities are better communicated, in that they’re communicated at all to the player. But ultimate ability callouts don’t seem to have any direction to them, making it hard to nail down where the threat is coming from. There have also been multiple times where something I couldn’t see or hear killed me, giving me no opportunity to counter at all. Even when using Viktor’s ultimate of calling an airstrike, I had no feedback that my inputs were registering, meaning I’d waste multiple missiles on a target that was killed by the first one.
I tried playing a few different champions in different roles as well, but beyond abilities, there’s not much to make you feel like you’re playing a different character than before. Everyone has the same floaty feel as if there’s no weight to the movements. Beyond accents, a lot of the characters even sound the same as each other, which is confusing in combat and disappointing from a variety perspective too.
While it sounds like I’m just tearing this game apart, it’s not out of spite, and nor do I think Paladins is a bad game. There’s some very solid mechanics and gameplay in here, it’s just wrapped in a lot of tedium and waiting that it makes it hard to justify opening for a few games. When it goes free to play, I’d definitely recommend checking it out, but I wouldn’t go buying the Founders Pack to play early just yet.
+ Solid controls
+ Looks great both handheld and docked
- Poor gameplay feedback
- So much waiting