Editorials Paladins: Champions of the Realm

Paladins Needs To Make Meaningful Change To Reinvigorate The State Of Play

Officially releasing out of beta on May 8th, 2018, Paladins has seen a steady influx of content released over the game’s lifetime. These content drops are usually in the form of new cosmetics, skins, and limited time events. However, while Paladins is enjoyable and provides fun, challenging gameplay, it seems to be at a tipping point where something new has to enter the Realm.

Even with larger style content drops, such as new Champions and maps, Paladins has grown a little stale, especially for this veteran player. Take the current selection of modes players have to occupy their time with – Siege, Onslaught, Team Deathmatch, and Ranked, which is essentially just Siege but more competitive. These have been part of the core offering for the entirety of Paladins, with the exception of TDM which was added recently. There were even two game modes that were removed from the game towards the beginning, being Payload and Survival, both of which added interesting new gameplay elements.

For the most part, players are given access to a standard series of three modes, which never change and undergo no variants over time to shake up the core gameplay. At first, the events Evil Mojo began to add into Paladins were invigorating and offered a lot of replayability, despite Champion limitations but now new events have begun to feel a little underwhelming. Take the first event, Siege of Ascension Peak, where players received decreased cooldowns and had to dodge firebombs that fell from the sky; it added exciting new mechanics for players to manoeuvre, master, and at times, be defeated by.

And then it disappeared, seemingly forever.

Since then we’ve had a few new game modes tied to events, such as the platforming and TDM hybrid in Rise of Furia, the Dragon’s Arena mode, and the King-of-the-Hill-type mode in End Times. These provide a welcome break from regular gameplay but much like Ascension Peak, they have not yet made a return.

It was announced in the recent Paladins AMA on Discord that Evil Mojo have been retesting and optimising both Siege of Ascension Peak and Dragon’s Arena for a limited return. While this is a great step forward for adding some new energy into the game, it ultimately feels like a bandaid when the situation calls for a new robotic limb.

As much as I hate comparing games in this capacity the revolving game modes in the form of Arcade, is something Overwatch does well and is one of the main reasons I ever played the game.

That being said, there are obvious differences between Overwatch and Paladins, budget and the purchase vs free to play models being only two distinctions that spring to mind. However, there is no reason previous event modes can’t rotate into Paladins on a semi-consistent basis.

While on the topic, the introduction of limited events which don’t add anything ‘gameplay-wise’, defeat the purpose of an event and add to the staleness of the state of Paladins. The current Street Styles is an example of this, with the addition of paid ‘Event’ bundles full of cosmetics but no gameplay changes or additions. Aside from the bundles, the most we get out of the Event are limited quests, which operate in the same format as the standard daily quests but with a different currency reward. This is a far cry from what an event should be.

If we take a look at regular gameplay, there is something Paladins desperately needs, something that has been requested by players for a very long time. This is a more in-depth tutorial to introduce new players to the game and touching on some of the more intricate details. Currently the tutorial is very basic and introduces players to the basic mechanics of the Siege mode and how to use abilities but it can and should be adjusted and improved in a multitude of ways.

For example, rather than completing the tutorial with a single Damage character, they can undertake multiple specially designed tutorials for each of the classes. This way new players can learn the basics of Support, Front Line, Flank, and Damage, giving them a rudimentary knowledge base before they dive into the deep end. Even incorporating some of the tips and tricks that are on the loading screens into the tutorials could help players gain a deeper grasp of Paladins’ strategy.

The tutorials should also extend to understanding basic team comp, particularly in ranked matches. Since Champion choices are locked in and there is a relatively low barrier to entry, it may help some players understand the importance of picking complementary team choices. This has been done partly through the addition of the notices when choosing Champions – No Front Line, No Support etc.

While on the topic of ranked and different queues, one of the prominent issues is there really isn’t any incentive to play the specific playlists. Sure, if you manage to win a bunch of ranked matches you can get a cool Frame and completing your qualifier matches and placing in a certain rank can net you a skin but beyond that there is very little that rewards you for your time. This goes double for the casual playlist, essentially providing you with nothing but experience for your Battle Pass, if one is active.

Aside from playing a few matches with friends or wanting a little challenge, there is no difference in terms of reward when comparing bot matches to regular ones. In fact, with the lack of queue times it can almost be more efficient to grind for experience in bots. Log on, complete your daily quests, finish a few matches to gain a couple Battle Pass levels, log off. Now I know this is not everyone, as people play games for different reasons, but for me, Paladins doesn’t feel rewarding or engaging, even though I still do enjoy the gameplay and Champions.

This level of time investment vs reward should be extended to the progression system which is lacklustre at best. Character levels used to show a player’s commitment and dedication to a particular Champion and if you saw a level 25 Skye, you knew they had put in a helluva lot of work to get to that point. With the current system, which many players have taken issue with, you can spend gold to level up your Champions, leading to the question, ‘well, what’s the point of Champion levels?’.

The worst thing about the new system is that Evil Mojo thinks the progression and current system is fine, stating as much in their recent Discord AMA. This system almost negates the need for levels in the first place, aside from Obsidian/Cosmic skins for certain Champs, a Title at 30, and Gold Skin at 50 (coming soon for all Champions). There are no other incentives to encourage you to stick to your favourite Champs and rewarding you when you’ve put an abundance of time into them.

The same thing can be said when it comes to Account progression. Personally, I’m currently sitting at level 300 for my account and I know (and play with) people who range from level 10 to level 600. Aside from game experience and skill, there is nothing to differentiate someone who has gained an extra 300 levels playing and someone who has been playing for a few weeks. In fact the only thing you receive is 2500 gold per level, which is essentially useless in the current game climate. To solve this, Evil Mojo could incorporate new rewards such as fun Titles like those hidden in the Flair Chest, cosmetics, experience boosts, or interesting Champion effects to show that a player has really put in some time. This system could be similar to Warframe‘s daily login bonus, which rewards you for each day you’ve logged in or even Destiny 1‘s Nightfall bonus which shrouded the head of your Guardian in flame.

Credit: https://www.emmacatherinestudios.com/

Paladins is a very creator-friendly game, with many amazing artists, streamers, writers, and cosplayers all flexing their creative muscles while using this game as a focus. Take my friend Emmycosplayss for example, who put in just under 120 hours of work to develop her Coldsnap Furia cosplay. Emily, like so many others, has a love for this game deep enough that she doesn’t only play it but spent time and over $400 worth of material creating wearable armour and weaponry drawn from one of her favourite Champions.

While it may be tricky to implement, new features designed for content creators could not only draw more people to the game but help and support the current playerbase. There could be updates allowing players to store their favourite plays to an in-game save file, deeper lore that players can access in the game, and of course a wider variety of game types, which would enable the easier creation of content by those who love Paladins. While Evil Mojo can still greatly enhance the quality of the game, it must be said they are still quite supportive of the creator community at large, showing incredible excitement and joy with the passionate group of players Paladins has drawn in.

Paladins has given me some of my most enjoyable gaming moments and favourite experiences, not to mention the amazing people I’ve met while playing. The game needs more content to reinvigorate it and re-energise the way players play and the rewards they get for sinking time into the few game modes, regardless of whether it’s ranked or casual. Even as Evil Mojo focus on fixing the bugs and improving the overall experience, Paladins can be so much more and I look forward to seeing what’s planned for the future.

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