If you look back through my article history, you will notice a fair few articles on Paladins: Champions of the Realm. It is no secret that I love this game and have sunk days worth of time into it (support main all the way) but I am worried about the future. Cards Unbound was announced as part of the Patch Preview for OB64, introducing a new card system that opens up every card for all players and cycles any duplicates into ranking them up and increasing their benefits.
When the system was first announced and released into the PTS it was heavily criticised with how disturbingly it resembled a pay to win system and how veteran players were rewarded with an incredible advantage over new players. Veteran players should be rewarded for spending their time in the game but not to the point where newer players are put at a severe disadvantage until they level up their cards sufficiently. Hi-Rez Studios have made several updates to the Cards Unbound system which has made the system slightly less terrible, but the fact is, the changes and updates are hard to determine and catalogue.
Addressing the pay to win system, which was a completely shortsighted thing to propose especially with the controversy surrounding microtransactions and EA, in particular, Hi-Rez has removed the possibility to purchase the new Champion Chests with Crystals. Crystals are the premium currency of choice in Paladins, and up until this it was only used to purchase Champion skins and exp boosters, which I should mention has no bearing on a player’s skill in-game. Hi-Rez has announced that the addition of those microtransactions will be set until OB65 or beyond when they can refine it to not even resemble pay to win.
When Cards Unbound drops with OB64, veteran players will be treated to getting every card they already own boosted straight to Level Four out of ten possible levels. Initially, that ranking system was only half as big, with every veteran player getting owned cards boosted to Level Three, which, when combined with the blatant OPness of some of the new Legendary cards, presented a significant power discrepancy. Every player in OB64 will be granted with three default loadouts for each Champion, each card of which will be set at Level Four. This will allow newer players to compete at a fairer level with veteran players while they attempt to build up their duplicates and rank up their favourite cards.
Finally, one of the bigger changes is the reduction and changes to the newly proposed Legendary Cards, some of which are blatantly too powerful at the highest rank, or even middling ranks. Jenos for example, with his new Legendary, Binary Star, will deal 540 damage over 0.4 seconds at Level Ten, which is still a reduction on the 600 extra damage it had at the beginning of all this. All the Legendary Cards have received changes and decreased benefits per level in an effort to mitigate some of the gameplay blowbacks, even going so far to completely remove cards from the game in regards to Lex’s Fought The Law Legendary. Fought The Law would have provided a 72% damage bonus to In Pursuit at Level Five and has since been removed and replaced with The Law Won, which is still powerful but not as game-breaking.
The changes show that Hi-Rez is listening to the community but I am worried that it will not be enough. Comment sections and forum threads are full of angry players exclaiming, “Cancel OB64” and while the Cards Unbound system has gotten a lot better with these recurrent updates, the bad publicity has definitely hurt the game in a big way. At this point, I am worried that Hi-Rez has made a big mistake and is putting the future of a game that I and so many others enjoy, at risk. Hopefully, they can band together and pull Paladins through this controversy and steam towards the full release with a strong following behind them.