'Paladins' Nintendo Switch Review: The Ideal Mobile 'Overwatch' Alternative
It might even be better.
Hi-Rez studio’s hero shooter Paladins left its lengthy Early Access period in May and much like Fortnite, hit the Nintendo Switch with a surprise release during E3 2018. Previously, the game was only available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac OS, and PC. But there is perhaps no better home than on the Nintendo Switch.
While my experience with the game on consoles is minimal, I can confidently say that Paladins is one of my favorite games to play on the Nintendo Switch, as long as I have access to wifi.
As a “hero shooter,” Paladins draws inevitable comparisons to Overwatch with fans on either side of the aisle assuming that one is a clone of the other. Both games are first-person shooters with a colorful cast of varied characters, each filling a vital role in team composition. And, to be fair, it’s true that many characters in each have overlapping abilities with some in the other.
But this dispute is less apt than PUBG suing Fortnite over the same base concept. Game subgenres aren’t IP, and rest assured that as familiar as Paladins might feel to a seasoned Overwatch player like myself, the two games are refreshingly different. I might even say that I prefer Paladins in plenty of ways, especially now that it’s on the Switch.
I’ve played Overwatch for more than two years now, and though it’s one of my favorite games ever, Competitive play can feel toxic, frustrating, and totally draining. I’m drawn to how relaxing and accessible the Paladins experience feels by comparison.
Whereas Overwatch thrives in its simplicity and its polished, balanced gameplay, Paladins excels with a more customized experience by fusing in elements from MOBAs like League of Legends. For starters, you can’t switch characters mid-match, and when the match does start, you have the option to modify your loadout via a Card system to enhance specific characteristics. And much like in League of Legends, you can purchase Item upgrades as the match progresses and you earn currency.
Each “Champion” falls into one of four categories: Front Line, Damage, Support, and Flank. You should recognize these archetypes as tank, DPS, healer, and flanking roles like the classic Rogue or Archer.
While trying to get a grasp on the dizzying number of 37 Champions in Paladins, I couldn’t help but think, “Okay so the big turtle has a hook like Roadhog but can also do a cool Ninja Turtles spin.” Or, “So Tyra is like a female Soldier: 76 with an even better toolkit.” Overwatch honestly feels pretty basic and cartoonish by comparison, with Paladins feeling like an inventive fusion of fantasy and science fiction where fairies and dragons fight robots and supersoldiers. It’s probably even more accurate to say that Overwatch falls squarely into sci-fi with hints of fantasy, with Paladins being the exact opposite, a fun fantasy universe that integrates some science fiction elements.
The characters in Paladins are overall way more inventive, like the offensive-oriented, Druid-like hybrid character Grover. Imagine if Groot had throwing axes, and he could heal his team.
These Champions are varied and colorful in their composition, function, and even hair color, so much so that I find it hard to settle on one.
The pink-haired Maeve is basically a traditional Rogue, sneaking around and throwing daggers into an enemy’s back. Evie, with blue hair, is an ice witch. The roster even has a witch doctor named Mal’Damba whose primary weapon is a snake that shoots venom. And those are just a few mages.
The best thing Paladins ever did was to release a version for Nintendo Switch where it has virtually no direct competition, so its frenetic but thrilling gameplay can shine. Unfortunately, it does suffer from the same account migrations issues as Fortnite in that if you started Paladins on PlayStation 4, you won’t be able to use the same account on the Nintendo Switch. But blame Sony for that one.
You can totally play Paladins on the Nintendo Switch with the mobile console, but it’s best enjoyed by popping off the JoyCons and using the kickstand or setting it up on your television with the controller rig. This is a fast-paced shooter after all, so maximum comfort is ideal.
Rest assured, I’m going to maximize my comfort and keep playing Paladins for a long time to come.