At first glance, Paladins Strike looks like your ordinary run of the mill MOBA, similar to Vainglory. You have an isometric point of view on a fantasy battlefield and two teams of five unique heroes attaching each other’s base. But, there is a big difference in gameplay mechanics. Namely, MOBA games usually derive their gameplay system from real-time strategy games, whereas in Paladin Strike you take complete control over your champion.
Paladins Strike is based on Paladins, Hi-Rez Studios’ hero shooter that has a striking resemblance to Overwatch. In this mobile version though, players are moved from the first-person perspective to an isometric view, making the game look and feel a lot more like a MOBA than a multiplayer shooter.
Seen from afar, this change doesn’t seem very significant, but has a tremendous effect on the core mechanics and feel of the game. This is basically an online shooter, but with a much bigger emphasis on team dynamics and strategy than some usual mobile shooter like, for example, Guns of Doom.
You move with a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen, aim and shoot with the virtual stick on the right, and activate several recharging special moves with corresponding virtual buttons.
As is the case with any hero based game, like Overwatch, the main point of Paladins Strike is to utilize unique abilities of your hero and to aid your team with them. The objective is not piling up the frags, but achieving a certain objective.
You’ll find a wide variety of classes among the characters you can choose from. There are many versions of tanks, healers, ranged experts and assault classes. They can have significantly different levels of health and speed, as well as a distinctive main weapon.
Our early plays found us favoring Ash, a strong and durable tank with a grenade launcher and a shield, who can also charge a dash and knock opponents flying. This will certainly change after dozens of hours of playing and getting to know how all of the characters work.
There are more than 20 of these heroes to unlock, though it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that you’ll need to pay real money if you want to unlock them at a reasonable rate.
It is kind of frustrating to find out that the titular Paladins, around whom the whole game revolves, are initially locked away, unless you cash out the real life money. Thankfully, that system is done pretty well, so you won’t feel like you are being forced to pay to remain relevant in the competition. If you are not willing to reach for your pocket, there are two ways of unlocking your heroes, one of which is based on gumption and the other one on luck. The first option is to roll up your sleeves and grind the heck out of the game and other is to use daily unlock system to gradually get the entire roster.
Every hero has their strengths and weaknesses, so this isn’t pay-to-win. However, you can enhance the abilities of each Paladin with ‘runes’, which can, of course, be acquired much more readily if you spend real money.
In the moment of this writing, Paladins Strike has two modes of play. The first is Siege, the game’s primary mode, where two teams fight over a control point to try and spawn a payload cart, which must then be escorted into enemy territory to win the game. The other mode, Summons, has multiple capture points, which can be used to summon a powerful AI companion who can attack the enemy base.
The major issue with Paladins Strike is how messy and unrecognizable the battlefield can be. It will happen more than often that the battleground turns into the equivalent of cartoon fight dust cloud, with the mess of neon lights and overlapping limbs. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish friend from foe, or what’s going on in the first place. Experienced MOBA players are familiar with
it, though it seems that clarity of the battlefield matters more when you’re directly responsible for the positioning and aiming of your hero. Speaking about that, the biggest culprit for aforementioned pile-ups in the middle of the map is Paladins Strike’s main node-capturing Siege mode. Since most of the action happens in the center of the battlefield, if you die and respawn you have to run through the mostly empty level back to the front line, which can grow tiresome if repeated a lot. Summons mode is more interesting since there are several capture points and powerful AI Titans you can summon to attack your enemies. The only trouble is that matches take a lot, and we mean a lot of time to complete.
There are some technical glitches with the contemporary version, such as the weird control freeze and the annoying messages about the instability of the connection, although it works just fine.
Despite being a mobile version of an Overwatch copycat, Paladins Strike actually offers a unique and compelling experience on mobile. It gives the kind of tactical team-based fun that few current mobile shooters can provide and showcases the interesting blend between MOBA types of games and mobile style of shooters.