Rant: The Miserable Experience of Paladins

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I’m writing this while viewing my profile page on Paladins, the latest title by Hi-Rez Studios and something of a cross between a MOBA and modern day Team Fortress 2. It’s a pretty simple concept, one that has been in beta for the better part of the last year. Two teams fight over control of a capture point, with the winner then escorting a payload to the other team’s side.

Your character is customized outside of the match using a collectible card game style “deck” as well as inside the match by buying MOBA-esque items that boost certain stats. It is a popular game, well received by the Steam community with an 84% positive rating, and by all means it is turning out to be a solid game.

But after playing for nearly five hours and never winning a single match, Paladins has been the most miserable experience I have had with a game in recent memory. Not frustrating, miserable. A losing streak in Overwatch is frustrating, being perpetually locked out of my online banking because customer support is rubbish is frustrating. Paladins is miserable, it’s like a delicious slice of pizza that comes out of the oven only for someone to immediately walk all over it.

If you haven’t played Paladins, the primary focus of the game is on objectives. You have to capture the point in order to raise the payload and you must escort the payload in order to successfully deliver said payload. Killing the enemy and not dying to the enemy is a big part of this, however you’ll notice that at no point does killstreak or kill/death/assist ratio come into play in the terms of victory.

This is Hi-Rez’s fault, according to the forums and Reddit community. The game gives too little point incentive to focus on the objective, outside of the obvious winning/losing the match. So my experience with Paladins hasn’t been miserable on account of losing every match, but the moments where I die and watch my team clear out the capture zone, only for all four of them to completely ignore the objective and run off individually to be picked off so the enemy team can waltz right in and take the capture point.

The misery of yet another 0-4 loss because more than half of the team did not bother at all to play the objective. It’s like I’m back in little league soccer, playing on a team of kids who don’t want to be there and don’t give a crap. This isn’t the same problem that I have with standard MOBAs, where public matches are a crapshoot of random people who don’t really know how to play a game where five people are supposed to be juggling three lanes and a jungle area. That’s a complicated game to consistently get five random people to work together on. Paladins is not that complicated.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this: I played a couple more games before finishing this piece off and, you know what? I lost. My team lost, but it was a very long game because both teams were fighting their best and the capture point was in a constant state of overtime as the bodies piled up and nobody seemed to be able to get an advantage. We lost 3-4, but we put on a hell of a show. The second game, I won, but it wasn’t fun. This time I wound up on the winning team, watching as none of the players on the other team even bothered approaching the capture point over the course of the match. That isn’t fun either.

One other thing I will say about Paladins is that the community is hell of a lot better than those I’ve encountered in MOBAs, SMITE included. Despite our heavy losses, I haven’t seen a single rage quit, nobody went afk in protest, and there wasn’t any trolling going on in chat. Barring this one, exceptionally major issue with people constantly not playing to the objective, I think Paladins will be the kind of game that could even give Overwatch a run for its money. It is, for all intent and purpose, exactly the fantasy spiritual sequel to Global Agenda that I always wanted.

Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.

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