The Differences Between Overwatch and Paladins
Have you ever noticed the phenomenon in the film industry where there will be near identical films released within close proximity of each other? Some examples being Armageddon and Deep Impact, The Prestige and The Illusionist, or more recently, The Jungle Book and the upcoming Jungle Book (very confusing).
There is no real mystery behind why this happens: It is because there are thousands of scripts flying around Hollywood, meaning studios will option them and then sit on them before moving into potential production. However, if they hear that a rival studio is making a similar film, perhaps even developed from the same script, they will spin their own version into production in order to recoup some of the expenses they paid out. They would rather split the profits with a rival than get no profits or return on investment at all. Thus, you may well get two similar films released in the same time frame.
The question is, does this happen with games? Not so often, to be honest, aside from similar games within the same genre, or games inspired by whichever series is in vogue at the time. See the countless Dark Souls inspired games or straight-up clones, those aping the success of DayZ previously, and in the future I imagine we will see the same for No Man's Sky.
The games press tried heavily to compare Battleborn and Overwatch. Aside from a slightly similar aesthetic, they were well wide of the mark as the two games are practically in different genres. This unfair comparison probably helped contribute to Battleborn's subsequent failure to find a strong audience.
Two games that better fit the comparison are in fact Overwatch and the recently released (on Early Access) Paladins: Champions of the Realm (from here on in referred to as Paladins).
I have spent a lot of time with Overwatch now, both pre- and post-release, so I decided to spend some time with Paladins to see how similar they are and if there is room for both of them to be successful.
Even without booting either game, you can't fail to notice how similar in aesthetic the two games are: Vibrant, colourful and cartoony with characters that ooze personality, before even uttering a word. Of course, this style is not new nor unique, it is a staple of Blizzard games and was arguably most recently popularised by Team Fortress 2, a third game which also shares similarities with both Overwatch and Paladins. It is a style that looks great and is more resistant to ageing over time when compared to more photo-realistic graphics. It also means that in most cases the games are more accessible to a wider audience, and is a good way of making your game both endearing and recognisable. It should be noted here that Paladins is slightly less demanding on your PC than Overwatch.
The two games both feature pre-determined characters (or heroes) which all fill certain roles; There is no customisation of classes here like in games such as Battlefield or Call of Duty. The characters fill staples of videogames such as Tank, DPS, Heal/Support. Both games rely heavily on each team utilising these roles well and adapting to different scenarios and needs in order to be successful.
In either game your team is going to falter without the right mix of different characters, or like in most games of Overwatch I experience, everyone can just pick a Sniper!
Right off the bat both games are extremely similar, as both are class-based first person shooters, again heavily inspired by Team Fortress 2 before them.
Both Overwatch and Paladins differ from regular first person shooters as there is no weapon cycling or ammo pickups. Each character has a set weapon and must rely heavily on utilising skills which are mapped to certain keys and unique to each character for each role, and then one ultimate skill which must be charged before being used and if executed at the right time can be a game changer.
There is ongoing debate as to which game was in development first but regardless of respective timelines, the similarities between the two are quite staggering. The only real difference between the two games is that Paladins is a little faster paced and features some MOBA-like elements which themselves feel lifted right out of another Blizzard game: Heroes of the Storm.
Even if Hi-Rez Studios can make a decent claim of not copying Overwatch, the fact remains that they are releasing second and could now be accused of capitalising on the massive success of Overwatch. They could have perhaps made some subtle tweaks to their characters or the game to avoid any accusations of being a copy of Overwatch.
In conclusion, I think that both games are very good, though that could purely be because I think Overwatch is very good.
Overwatch is not Free to Play whereas Paladins is. This means that due to the MOBA nature of the latter game, the buying of cards and skills, that Paladins runs the risk of becoming Pay-To-Win in the future, whereas Overwatch will always be a more even playing field as its microtransactions are purely cosmetic.
Overall, the decision must come down to where and when you want to spend your money. If you can't afford the up-front cost of Overwatch, then Paladins is a fine alternative, but if you can afford it then hands down my recommendation is Overwatch every time.