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.
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.