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Paladins for Xbox One is a solid shooter — but Overwatch is still better

Now that Paladins is in open beta on the Xbox One it's a good time to take a close look at it. It comes from the same developer as Smite, but this time around you playing in the first-person and not the third. It's not your average first-person shooter (FPS) though, and you could say the same about the popular Overwatch (opens in new tab) game.

In fact, comparisons are easy to draw between the two. While their themes are very different, many the underlying principles and gameplay mechanics are very similar, as is the graphical style.

It's perfectly acceptable to draw comparisons, between these games, but it's unfair to call one a "rip-off" of the other. Even so, having played both, I'm here to say that of the two, Overwatch comes out on top. A year on from its launch, it's still by far the best option.

Why Overwatch is king

Blizzard has one of the best in-app purchase models for Overwatch ever. Spending your own real money doesn't have any bearing on your performance in the game. It doesn't level you up, it doesn't give you new abilities, and it doesn't make any of your characters better than someone else's.

It lets you buy loot boxes, which contain cosmetic items. That's it. And you can earn all of those in the game anyway without ever spending a dime. So for around $40 if you buy the physical version (the cheapest option for sure) you get everything.

By contrast, Paladins has a much more complex model. It's free to play to start, and without some form of payment, you're limited in regards to the Champions you can use. You can at least buy the Founder's Pack, just as you could with Smite, which unlocks them all and any future champions. It isn't expensive at $19.99, and if you're enjoying Paladins it's a no-brainer.

But there's also much more involved in putting together your in-game experience, such as cards with different benefits, and different powerups. In Overwatch, you can literally just buy the game, install it, choose a character and play, but Paladins takes much more thought and effort.

Paladins also has in-game currency, called "crystals", that can be bought using real money. From the developer:

Crystals are the premium currency in Paladins. Crystals can be used to unlock Champions, purchase Cosmetic Items and Treasure Chest rolls, and change your in-game username ... Crystals are obtained by buying them with real money through either the in-game store or through the Online Store

When Paladins leaves beta, this will most likely be how you unlock things. So the Founders Pack is already looking like a great value. But also a little ... "Kickstarter-ish."

If you're OK with such a model of in-app purchases to unlock things like Champions and treasure chests, that's fine. But I think it's sub-par compared to a model of just buying a game and having everything there the first time you play it.

But is Paladins any good?

Paladins

Actually, yes, it is. While the whole cards aspect and the free-to-play nature make it less appealing to some, it's pretty enjoyable. As with Overwatch, there is a wide range of characters to choose from with different abilities and weapons. Not all of them carry traditional guns, and there are ones that heal as well as those you need for defense.

There are different game modes but no team deathmatch. You're mostly looking at objective-placed gameplay, though there's also a no-respawn mode in which the last one standing takes the spoils for their team.

The action is fast-paced, and even though it's technically a beta it's still pretty reliable. Matchmaking queues aren't very long and, so far at least, there haven't been any really showstopping bugs. So that's good.

Paladins is also very easy to get used to once you're comfortable with all the cards stuff (which I am not, but I also probably should have paid more attention). The controls are simple for controller players, with a regular FPS-style layout. The only thing that ever changes is exactly which type of weapon those buttons activate. Whatever is attached to the bumpers will also have some form of cooldown period.

Overwatch vs. Paladins: Bottom line

When Paladins exits beta we'll no doubt take a closer look at it, but the bottom line is this: Overwatch is still a better game, and even though it costs more, it's a one-off cost and you get everything you need to play.

It's great that Paladins has a differentiator, but it's not really a pick up and play title. For whatever reason, I find the cards less appealing than just creating a loadout in something like Call of Duty.

The great thing about Paladins is that you can play it for free. You can't play all of it, but it's like an extended demo, and you have ample chance to get a real feel for it before you decide if it's worth spending money on. And the best time to try it is now because the Founders Pack will give you the best return on your investment.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

12 Comments
  • i have played both extensively and prefer paladins for a few reasons, ones that make it more like a MOBA 1) no in game character switching. Build a decent team off the bat or suffer. requires planning.  2) cards bring strategy. Like a MOBA buy items as you play to further customize your character. Overwatch doesn't have any strategy beyond counter picking heroes and twitch. If that's your thing, fine, but it's not nearly as strategic as paladins.    overwatch is fine, but i haven't booted it up in months because it's not nearly as deep, so imma disagree with the author.  
  • That's fine. But you basically like it because it's more of a MOBA like experience, yes? From a perspective of comparing it with its closest comparison though, I'm in the camp of not liking that stuff. I also don't like MOBAs :)
  • yeah, that's why i prefer it. I guess my point is that one isn't objectively better. Depends what you're after. 
  • Literally just comparing it to Overwatch right now since that's essentially what everyone has said it's most like. I'm enjoying Paladins, not sure whether I'll stick with it but I've had some fun so far!
  • I tell it... Crossplay :v but they dont want it.... you know, the same as GoW 4 but is fine play PC vs Xbox :(
  • I think this is where im different, from my perspective i find Paladins the better game, I love the whole card system and that players can take an a specific role and strategize with the rest of your team to bring in that win. I originally started off with Overwatch because i loved the whole back story of the characters (something paladins is sorely missing) but i found the game controls cluncky and the characters slow (but thats just me), when i started Paladins it felt so much faster and a bit more fluid. So for me Paladins takes the win which is funny becuase i never liked smite or team fortress but im pretty hooked on this one.
  • Paladins isn't bad at all as many say, cause u know.. Overwatch. But i do find it a "light" version of overwatch. Both of these games need balanced Cross-play like gears of war 4 which works perfect. In the end i do pick overwatch cause to me the fights packs more punch.
  • The author clearly doesn't know about the game. You don't need to spend money (crystal) to unlock a champion. I have all champions unlocked by using only gold coins. 7500 for newer champions or 5000 coins. You just have to play and gain the gold. Have some time playing and enjoy and please leave us from biased articles. I can't stand anymore people comparing Paladins to Overwatch. Paladins is from a small studio, Overwatch comes from Blizzard, come on! I didn't play Overwatch enough to have my opinion because it's still expensive but with Paladins I'm having a lot of fun. Despite of its bugs and the late update to consoles compared to PC, the game is clean and easy to understand. It's not a CoD-style game, if you play like this then you are probably on the wrong game.
  • The author clearly doesn't know about the game. You don't need to spend money (crystal) to unlock a champion. I have all champions unlocked by using only gold coins. 7500 for newer champions or 5000 coins. You just have to play and gain the gold. Have some time playing and enjoy and please leave us from biased articles. I can't stand anymore people comparing Paladins to Overwatch. Paladins is from a small studio, Overwatch comes from Blizzard, come on! I didn't play Overwatch enough to have my opinion because it's still expensive but with Paladins I'm having a lot of fun. Despite of its bugs and the late update to consoles compared to PC, the game is clean and easy to understand. It's not a CoD-style game, if you play like this then you are probably on the wrong game.
  • Both sad ripoffs of tf2, still going strong after 10 years, those silly copies will be forgotten in 3
  • Yeah, Overwatch isn't going anywhere.
  • Sure, let's just play Overwatch, why would anyone need another game? Plus, there's probably nothing to like in games that aren't Overwatch.