Last year I reviewed Paladins: Champions of the Realm for our YouTube channel, and while my review was overall positive, I noted that many players were wary of immersing themselves in the new IP because the developers have a bad habit of ruining their older titles in the name of making a cheap buck. Well, as far as I’ve heard from my friends who took the plunge anyway, that day had sadly come.
For those who don’t know anything about Paladins, it’s a hero-based shooter with gameplay very reminiscent of Overwatch. Everyone selects a hero and then both teams fight over an objective, usually something like a payload or a control point. The main difference in Paladins comes from the card system, whereby you equip several cards in your loadout that alter your hero’s abilities to a certain extent. This lets you adjust your hero into exactly the sort of playstyle you’re looking for and the cards are mostly balanced between each other, not to mention purchasable with an in-game currency that you can easily obtain by just playing the game.
Until now. With the release of Update 44, cards now come in rarity tiers, with the Legendary ones containing far more powerful character buffs. Cards are now purchased with Essense, which is obtained by buying chests with either in-game Gold or premium Crystals. This changes the card system from an overall-balanced series of sidegrades to more of a progression system where the lucky, hardcore, or paying customers get better characters than those just starting out, especially because the drop rate for Essence is far, far, lower than that of Gold. This also has the unfortunate side effect of lowering character customizability, because if you craft a legendary card for a hero, you will never want to use the weaker non-legendary cards again.
Edit: Minor correction, Medicinal Warlock informed me that Legendary cards have their own equip slot, and do not take the place of the non-legendary loadout cards.
Now, just because the system is flawed on release doesn’t mean they won’t redeem themselves through future adjustments. It’s certainly possible, as the Payday 2 devs proved. But it’s also far more likely for the game to never recover and wither away into a shadow of its former self, as Loadout and The Respawnables did when they abandoned all concept of sidegrades in favor of pumping their game full of microtransaction-encouraging rarities and pay-to-win bonuses. Also, this is Hi-Rez we’re talking about. They killed Tribes Ascend, they killed Global Agenda, they have a documented and proven track record of doing this to their otherwise-great games. I applaud those who were optimistic enough to give Paladins the benefit of the doubt, and I hope the devs take the necessary steps to fix their game turning into an RNG grindfest, but I stopped playing the game back in September because of the warning signs from their older IPs.