Paladins: Champions of the Realm

Key events

Paladins runs at 60fps on Switch and it's superb

Digital FoundryPaladins runs at 60fps on Switch and it's superb

Resolution takes a hit but this is close to the complete package.

Paladins on Switch is a current-gen port that offers a genuine surprise: it's a true 60fps rendition of a title that - perhaps unfairly - has been overshadowed by Overwatch. But with Blizzard's own shooter missing from Switch's library, Paladins has a great chance to shine here, and shine it does: developer Hi-Rez Studios squeezes almost all of the full console experience onto Nintendo's hybrid. It comes fully featured with all characters and maps and as a result, cross-play with Xbox One works brilliantly. 60fps support for a current-gen port is far from the norm on Switch, so what are the trades and do they have any impact on the quality of the gameplay?

With the docked Switch hooked up to your HDTV, gameplay is as tight and responsive as you could possibly hope for - a 60fps game with v-sync that tackles even the busiest scenes without too much trouble. Yes, there are some blips and hiccups along the way - a state of affairs that doesn't really trouble the PS4 or Xbox One versions - but in general, performance is comparable. The small stutters are curious though. They don't manifest in offline practice matches, suggesting that the Switch's background processing of network code may be the cause.

While a complete 60fps lock might be off the table, the smooth performance level delivered to Switch users for an online shooter is clearly a boon. True, it dispenses with visual quality to maintain that frame-rate, but the pay-off is clear: Switch players actually have close to level footing with Xbox One users in cross-play, who populate the same online servers. It's ideal for anyone picking Paladins up hoping for a fair chance in deathmatch or siege games. By comparison, it's the opposite situation for Fortnite, which leaves Switch users running at half the frame-rate of cross-play rivals.

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Free-to-play hero shooter Paladins finally leaves beta next week

Free-to-play hero shooter Paladins finally leaves beta next week

Celebratory freebies coming for all early access players.

Hi-Rez Studios has announced that its free-to-play hero shooter will, after a year and a half in early access development, leave beta and launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next Tuesday, May 8th.

Despite arriving in the wake of Overwatch - and having weathered accusations of copying thanks to its broadly similar art style (with the occasional opportunity for reverse-shade arising) - Paladins has done alright for itself. Since its beta launch in September 2016, its mix of blasting and deck-building has attracted over 25 million players on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

To mark the game's departure from early access, Hi-Rez will be giving 200 free premium currency Crystals to everyone that played in the beta. To claim them, players simply need to log into their accounts between May 8th and May 31st. A special Beta Avatar will also be included.

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Paladins unveils loot box cards like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and no one seems happy

Apparently Star Wars Battlefront 2 is not setting a bad enough example, because Hi-Rez has unveiled a loot box-based card-ability system for Paladins which works in much the same way.

It's not a one-for-one likeness. Paladins is a free-to-play game where microtransactions are the bread and butter income, whereas Star Wars Battlefront 2 costs £50 upfront. Also, Hi-Rez might have been planning this a long time before Battlefront 2 made a pig's ear of it.

Nevertheless, the similarities are strong. Paladins' new Cards Unbound system introduces card-abilities of tiered strength - level one to level five - and they're inextricably linked to the random contents of loot boxes, which you will of course be able to buy (although not yet).

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Digital Foundry: Paladins tested on PS4, Pro and Xbox One

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry: Paladins tested on PS4, Pro and Xbox One

Identical to PC, 4K on Pro, with blistering performance on all systems.

Highly reminiscent of Blizzard's Overwatch, Hi-Rez Studios' Paladins: Champions of the Realm has recently arrived in open beta form on PS4, PS4 Pro and Xbox One, joining a PC release that has gradually evolved since its 2015 debut. The colourful aesthetic, characters, announcers, music, and even the HUD mirror a lot of the choices made in Blizzard's own shooter, but in terms of execution Paladins is still the one of the best alternatives we've played to date. Developed by the talented team behind games like Smite, it deploys Unreal Engine 3 with Havok physics to achieve attractive visuals at 60fps on all platforms.

In terms of the visual comparisons between all platforms, this is an issue that's easy to resolve without spilling too much ink: both PS4 and Xbox One run at the equivalent to PC's absolute top graphics settings, including max world detail, shadows, textures, particles, and shader quality. There's zero difference between them though it must be said that Paladins isn't striving to hand in the cutting-edge in visual technology. Given that it began as a PC game, it's catering to the largest audience possible, meaning visual settings that run at 1080p at 60fps even on today's budget graphics cards. And that's why there's basically no compromise on PS4 and Xbox One. There's also an exaggerated halo effect on PS4's lamps, but otherwise, character models, texture filtering - the whole package is identical to PC.

The only major difference between PS4, Xbox One and PC concerns a touch of polish. Actual multiplayer gameplay is thankfully fine, but PlayStation 4's tutorial and practice mode appears to have an issue with AI not working properly, resulting in glitching movement - or none at all. Unsurprisingly, this issue also kicks in on PS4 Pro. Paladins is in its open beta phase, so we should expect to see minor issues like this resolved in its final release.

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Last week, Hi-Rez Studios co-founder Todd Harris took to Reddit to address comments that upcoming team-based shooter Paladins was a copy or clone of Blizzard's Overwatch. Harris pointed out that Paladins was in development before Overwatch was announced but also said that the developers decided to stick to their guns despite elements of their game being similar to Overwatch, as other approaches didn't focus test well.

Paladins open beta launch trailer reminds us a lot of Overwatch

Zany characters. A hero with a huge electric shield. Another who can fire out a chain. A dwarf with a big beard and turret.

It's Over- oh no, wait. It's Paladins.

Hi-Rez Studios' hero shooter launches in open beta today, and to announce it, well... Take a look at the latest trailer.

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Get one of 500 keys for the Paladins closed beta

Update: And that's it, they're all gone. Enjoy!

Original story: Yes, you probably do have too many games to play at the moment, but in the spirit of seasonal generosity we have another to offer for free. Beta access, at any rate.

Paladins is the next title from Hi-Rez, creators of Tribes Ascend and well-regarded mythology-meets-MOBA Smite, and marks the developer's return to the online team-based shooting genre. Tactical thinking is encouraged by a need to guard your own base while destroying the enemy's, and collectable cards boost ability and character progression. The video below gives you an idea of what to expect.

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Smite developer unveils team shooter Paladins

Smite developer unveils team shooter Paladins

Capture the Flag meets Team Fortress 2 with collectible cards.

Smite developer Hi-Rez Studios has announced Paladins: Champions of the Realm, a team-based shooter due next year for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

It mixes third-person shooting and Capture the Flag-style gameplay with stat-boosting collectible cards.

Paladins is designed to move at a quick pace, with matches timed similarly to something like Team Fortress 2.

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