2)Paladins: Champions of The Realm

Year
Early Access.

Developer
Hi-Rez Studios

Platform
Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PS4

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Notes

Paladins is a multiplayer first person hero shooter in the same vein as Overwatch, the popular hero shooter from Blizzard Entertainment. Players choose from a pool of “champions” and must work together to capture objectives or stop the other team from accomplishing their objectives. There are also cooperative modes that pit players against tough AI opponents.

The game has proven to be quite popular, even though it is still technically in beta. Paladins gets a lot of flack in the gaming community for being an Overwatch clone, but those who have played both games know this to be untrue. While there are clear similarities in genre and gameplay,  the comparison does little justice to the minute nuances that give the games their own distinct flavor.

The biggest difference comes in the form of cards purchased before jumping into any games. These cards give characters new ways to use their abilities, allowing players to customize their favorite champions to their preferred playstyles with pre-built loadouts. Playing around with different loadouts and finding the right one for you is half the fun in Paladins.

The game’s biggest flaw is the new in-game currency system that was introduced a couple patches ago. Players purchase cards with essence and essence is gained by unlocking chests and hoping you get duplicates of cards you already have. The amount of essence gained is staggeringly low compared to the price of cards. Before the patch, it was much easier to gain unlock every champion and their cards. I’ve played the game on PC and have almost every champion unlocked. I recently joined the Xbox One alpha test, having to unlock everything all over again for the console. The grind to unlock cards is a lot heavier for new players with the essence system, but it’s not unbearable. For those looking to get into the game, I advise hoarding your essence until you are sure what you want to spend it on, through trial and error.

I’ve played the game on PC and have almost every champion unlocked. I recently joined the Xbox One alpha test, having to unlock everything all over again for the console. The grind to unlock cards is a lot heavier for new players with the essence system, but it’s not unbearable. For those looking to get into the game, I advise hoarding your essence until you are sure what you want to spend it on, through trial and error.

All in all, it’s still a fantastic game that rewards players for smart play, teamwork, and knowledge of character abilities. This is a much different experience than your average shooter, requiring a level of skill and not just twitch reflexes. I also love the aesthetic of the world, high fantasy meets sci-fi industry and technology. The art team also does a great job of giving champions their own unique personality and it’s clear Hi-Rez is developing a deeper lore for their game than surface expectations reveal.

1)Smite

Year
2014

Developer
Hi-Rez Studios

Platform
Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Mac OS

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Notes

Smite is a 3rd person MOBA in which players select from a roster of gods and mythological creatures to complete objectives and capture the other team’s base. Before playing Smite, I had tried to get into other MOBA’s with a drop down view of the battlefield. I quickly lost interest in the genre because the point of view created a distance between me, the action, and the character I was controlling. Not to mention, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to MOBAs for players new to the genre. There’s a whole lot of lingo that comes with playing MOBAs that are essential to learn if you want to be successful in that genre.

Smite’s 3rd person view brought me into the action and I started feeling more for my favorite gods. I wanted to learn all I could, so with the help of nice people in the community(those do exist) I gradually became better at the game. MOBAs are another genre of multiplayer titles that reward strategy and knowledge over twitch reflexes. Perhaps this is why I found myself playing nothing else, but Smite for a good six months. I also love the fact that I can google any of these gods and learn more about their real life roles within antiquity. If you’ve never played a MOBA, I would start with Smite because it’s more accessible than other iterations of the genre.

MOBAs are another genre of multiplayer titles that reward strategy and knowledge over twitch reflexes. Perhaps this is why I found myself playing nothing else, but Smite for a good six months. I also love the fact that I can google any of these gods and learn more about their real life roles within antiquity. If you’ve never played a MOBA, I would start with Smite because it’s more accessible than other iterations of the genre.

Players can choose to spend money to unlock all present and future gods (there are close to 80 gods in the game now) for $30. I caught the “God pack” on sale for $15 and it is easily one of the best investments I’ve ever made in a game. All other purchasable content are cosmetic, so there’s no pay to win microtransactions.