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Overwatch and Paladins are two shooter MOBAs that were released in a span of a few months. Although Paladins never achieved the glory and recognition of Blizzard’s hit, it did introduce a few interesting concepts to the genre.
And as many of us are waiting for Overwatch 2, some industry experts are still lamenting over Paladins and what could’ve been. As someone who specializes in these types of games, I would recommend that you try both titles. Paladins is an underappreciated gem affected not by poor gameplay but by the developers’ inability to make money.
In this article, I will make a comparison between Overwatch and Paladins. Hopefully, by the end of the article, you will be inclined to give both of them a chance and see what they have to offer.
Although we’ve seen similar shooters and MOBAs in previous years, none of them has Overwatch’s charm. In terms of pacing and vivid graphics, this game reminds me of two oldies but goodies: Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament.
Then again, we can’t neglect the RPG/MOBA elements. This is the first shooter that relied so heavily on creating efficient team composition. Another similarity to MOBAs is the ability system. While most industry experts classify Overwatch as a shooter, you can reach a higher ranking by simply playing your role correctly.
People often compare Overwatch to Valorant, but I think these are two completely different. To me, Valorant is similar to Counter-Strike, both conceptually and in terms of skill requirements. Overwatch is more like Dota 2 or League of Legends, as you rely much more on supporting, tanking, casting abilities the right way, etc.
The best way to describe Paladins is as League of Legends with guns. Although the game doesn’t have gold, it relies on a similar system of modifying your champion. Furthermore, both games use the term “champion” instead of “hero,” which shows how Paladins’ developers got their inspiration.
Both of these titles focus on ability use. However, Paladins provide much more customization. Players make most of their choices before the game starts, and you have numerous different ways of playing the same character. So much so that your talents and cards can completely change the dynamic of a match.
Unfortunately, despite all of the positives, Paladins never achieved the same level as Overwatch or some other MOBAs. Although the game is conceptually incredible, it never reached its full potential. The developers, Hi-Rez Studios, were plagued by monetary issues from the get-go, which led to the rushed product, numerous bugs, and crashes.
Main Differences Between Overwatch vs Paladins
The main differences between Overwatch vs Paladins are:
- Overwatch has a simpler and more forgiving system, whereas Paladins has a steeper learning curve.
- Overwatch has fewer customization options, and matches get stale quickly, whereas Paladins’ matches are much more chaotic and feel more rewarding.
- Overwatch allows swapping between characters during the game, whereas Paladins forces you to play the same champion.
- Overwatch is much better if you’re looking for a teamplay shooter, whereas Paladins is a better choice if you’d like to focus on individual performance.
Paladins vs. Overwatch Storylines
The Overwatch story is set in the near future, somewhere around the 2070s. Thirty years ago, human society faced an enormous threat at the hands of robots known as Omnics. Artificial beings created to serve humanity turned against their maker in a conflict that historians will remember as Omnic Crisis.
As the war dragged on, the humans created an elite strike force aptly called the Overwatch. These elite soldiers started a series of counter-attacks that would ultimately bring humans a much-needed victory.
The ruling authorities decided to keep the Overwatch when the war was over. They tasked them with maintaining the world’s stability, serving as a special global police force. Although the group served faithfully at first, inner turmoil and corruption led to its dissolution.
Given that Overwatch is no longer around to protect us, humanity is once again threatened by malicious terrorist cells. One of these groups, known as Talon, is trying to bring about the second Omnic Crisis. Winston, one of the company’s most revered members, decides to reform the group and tackle the incoming threat.
Like most MOBAs and shooters, the story is just a vehicle that explains why all these characters are battling each other. In other words, you won’t know much about the lore unless you read some content posted on the site or official Wiki pages.
In time, Blizzard has added a lot more material to the game explaining the interpersonal dynamics and the lore. You might notice some of it in the character’s dialogue and interactions. They did something similar to Riot did with League of Legends, slowly building the world after its inception.
The company plans on adding much more content in Overwatch 2.
Hi-Rez Studios took an innovative approach to traditional game storytelling. Instead of relying on one overall theme, they classified the lore based on major events and arcs. As a result, the game has a much more immersive feel in comparison to Overwatch.
If we were to sum it up, Paladins were a faction that has existed for millennia protecting the world against dragons, goblins, and various other fiends. Unfortunately, things have changed with the discovery of powerful magic crystals. This is where the first Crystal Arc begins.
The discovery of these precious stones caused the Paladins to split into two separate factions: Magistrate and Resistance. The first one is against the use of magic, fearing that their power could destroy the world. On the other hand, Resistance believes that these artifacts can help humanity.
Eventually, the monster Yagorath attacks the world (aka Realm) during the Darkness Arc. During this time, both sides have to work together to fend off this new threat. The conflict between the two factions continues even after Yagorath’s death during the third Ska’drin Arc.
The thing I really like about Paladins’ story is that there aren’t good and bad guys. Instead, you just have a bunch of characters trying to do their best to protect their world. This makes it feel less generic than Overwatch’s storyline.
At the same time, I do like the fact that Blizzard’s team has given us much more external multimedia.
Paladins vs. Overwatch Visual Appearance
First off, it’s worth mentioning that Overwatch has its own proprietary engine. Obviously, graphics was one of the things that developers paid a lot of attention to.
The way I see it, Overwatch spearheaded a new generation of shooters that have jovial, vibrant graphics. After its introduction, we’ve received many new titles with similar graphic solutions, including Valorant, Fortnite, and Battleborn. Without any sleight, the developers probably went with this format to cater to the new generation of consumers.
However, the fact that the game features lots of colors and funky environments doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s childish. Overwatch’s effects are well-polished, with lots of pixels. If you check out the background, you’ll quickly realize that the textures are incredible.
Like most other Blizzard titles (especially the newer ones), Overwatch provides a fantastic visual experience.
Paladins uses the Unreal 3 engine, which is one of the weaker engines among modern shooter MOBAs. And you can easily notice this by simply comparing it with Overwatch.
In many ways, the graphics and environment in Paladins remind me of the old World of Warcraft. In other words, although the visuals look ok, they’re nothing to write home about. In terms of graphics, Paladins simply can’t compare with Overwatch or newer titles like Valorant.
One thing that Paladins does well is the interface. Although I can’t call Overwatch’s interface bad, I feel that Paladins is much cleaner. It has less information, and it’s easier to keep track of the action on the map.
Paladins vs. Overwatch Characters and Roles
The original Overwatch features 31 characters, with five new heroes introduced in the second part. Most characters have one or two weapon modes, two abilities, and an ultimate. Some of them also have minor passives, such as wall climbing.
The feeling I’ve got playing the game is that some heroes have very little synergy between abilities. In some cases, it looks as if they’re randomly added for no particular purpose. For example, you have characters that focus on DPS but have too many support abilities.
On the other hand, you also have heroes such as Mercy, where your only job is to follow a teammate and heal them or increase their damage. Then again, I like how certain heroes look and feel. For example, Reinhardt’s and Orisa’s skills synergize nicely.
Here’s the list of all the heroes in the game:
- Wrecking Ball
- Soldier: 76
The thing that will always separate Overwatch from the pack is that this is the first shooter that managed to implement proper team building and execution. In that sense, it’s much closer to a MOBA than a title such as Paladins.
Each character has its distinct purpose and packing order. To win a game, you need proper coordination, not just superior shooting skills. Although there aren’t many classes (tank, damage, and support), it doesn’t feel like you need anything else. In this current meta, the optimal team composition is a tank, two damage dealers, and two supports.
Overall, while the combat and skills are relatively straightforward compared to MOBAs, you still need excellent team coordination to win consistently.
Paladins feature 57 champions divided into four classes: front line, damage, support, and flank. As you can presume, front liners are the traditional tanks, damage corresponds to fighters in League of Legends, and flanks are like assassins.
Although Overwatch is the superior game in almost every sense of the word, Paladins is much better in terms of heroes and their skills.
As previously mentioned, the game allows much more customization than Overwatch. Both titles are similar in terms of skill layout. Characters in Paladins have two modes of fire, activated with a left or right mouse click. Aside from that, you also have two abilities and an ultimate ability.
The thing I love about this title is that you can tinker so much with your abilities. This makes the matches incredibly unpredictable. In fact, this is one of the things that separates Paladins from other MOBAs, as there are so many viable loadouts you can go with.
Although there are optimal builds and meta compositions, you can always surprise opponents using funky talents and cards before the match.
Here’s the list of all the champions in the game:
- Betty La Bomba
- Bomb King
- Sha Lin
One of the rare things that put me off when it comes to Paladins is the lack of teamplay. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t find good teams. It’s just there aren’t many players willing to cooperate. In my opinion, this is because there is such a low player count that there aren’t many high-quality games as you would see in Overwatch, Dota, or League of Legends.
Another issue that is often mentioned is bad matchmaking. This makes it even harder to have quality team matchups. The most common team composition in the game is two tanks, two flanks/damage dealers, and one support.
Paladins vs. Overwatch Maps and Modes
The thing I liked is that Overwatch uses real-world locations. You have maps such as Havana, Hollywood, and Busan, as representations of actual cities. This helps world-building but also makes sense, given that each hero comes from a specific country.
There is a total of 22 maps in the game. Each one of them is for a specific game mode. With that in mind, we have 7 escort maps, 5 control maps, 7 hybrid maps, and 3 push maps. If you’re looking for more freedom, you can try one of the 14 arcade maps.
Initially, Overwatch didn’t offer much in terms of modes. It was a basic game with limited options. However, as time went by, Blizzard’s team started adding more and more content, and now, we can enjoy this incredible experience.
Keep in mind that some of the maps on the list were added in Overwatch 2. So, I’m cheating a bit with their addition to the list. Furthermore, Push mode is a completely new mode added in the second part.
In this mode, teams have the roles of defenders and attackers. During the game, one team tries to escort the payload to its location (defender) while the other team tries to stop them. Here are all the Escort maps:
- Havana (Overwatch 2)
- Route 66
- Circuit Royal (Overwatch 2)
- Shambali Monastery (Overwatch 2)
- Watchpoint: Gibraltar
In this mode, teams are vying to control three zones. Once you reach the designated area, members must stay within the zone for a certain time to capture it. Here are all the Control maps:
- Lijiang Tower
As the name implies, this is a hybrid mode in Overwatch. It starts with Assault, where attackers must storm a certain point while defenders protect it. If attackers manage to capture the zone, the mission goal transitions into an Escort situation where attackers need to escort the payload to a new area.
Here are all the Hybrid maps:
- King’s Row
- Blizzard World
- Midtown (Overwatch 2)
- Paraiso (Overwatch 2)
Push Maps (Overwatch 2)
When playing this mode, teams are trying to control a robot that would help them destroy enemy barricades and push toward their base. Once you reach the destination, you win the round. Here are all the Push maps:
- New Queen Street
In this mode, players have full control of the game rules. Here are all the Arcade maps:
- Ecopoint: Antarctica
- Black Forest
- Malevento Kanezaka
- Chateau Guillard
- Horizon Lunar Colony
- Temple of Anubis
- Volskaya Industries
Unlike Blizzard’s game, which is futuristic but uses the real world as an inspiration, Paladins is set in a fantasy environment. It features maps such as Ice Mines, Fish Market, Jaguar Falls, etc. Although each one of them has a few nice details, most of them look like your generic fantasy world regions.
Although it seems that Paladins has more maps than Overwatch, 28 to 22, some of them are rehashed for different modes. The thing that Paladins does much better than its competitor is having numerous causeways and hiding places. Playing on these maps makes the game much more unpredictable.
On Siege maps, teams play to earn objective points. This includes capturing certain areas and escorting or stalling the payload. The mode is similar to the hybrid mode in Overwatch. Siege maps are also used for ranked games, and there are 15 of them.
Here are all the Siege maps:
- Frog Isle
- Frozen Guard
- Jaguar Falls
- Serpent Beach
- Stone Keep
- Ice Mines
- Fish Market
- Timber Mill
- Warder’s Gate
- Splitstone Quarry
- Ascension Peak
- Shattered Desert
When choosing Onslaught, you have two submodes available: Onslaught and King of the Hill. These two have some minor differences between them.
To earn points during Onslaught mode, you need to capture specific zones or kill enemies. In King of the Hill mode, you also get points for controlling zones and killing opponents. The main difference is that the control point changes its location every 1:30 minutes.
Here are all the Onslaught maps:
- Marauder’s Port
- Foreman’s Rise
- Primal Court
- Magistrate’s Archives
Here are all the King of the Hill maps:
- Marauder’s Port
- Snowfall Junction
- Trade District
- Magistrate’s Archives
Team Deathmatch Maps
This is your standard Deathmatch mode with team stipulations. In other words, two teams consisting of 5 players go against each other. The first team to 40 kills wins the match.
Here are all the Team Deathmatch maps:
- Snowfall Junction
- Trade District
- Dragon Arena
Paladins vs. Overwatch Mechanics
If you played both games, you’d know how easier it is to master Overwatch.
Simply put, this game has significantly fewer characters and customization. Unlike most MOBAs, it doesn’t have items or loadouts. Basically, you play with a hero that has a few static skills and is expected to perform a certain role within the team.
In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why Overwatch gained so much traction when it was first introduced. It’s a visually beautiful game made by the beloved developer that doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Aside from shooting and getting used to certain skills, you don’t have to be as “knowledgeable” as you have with Dota and LoL.
All abilities in Overwatch can be placed in the following categories:
- Buffs and debuffs
- Crowd control
Even the maps don’t provide much in terms of their features. They’re very basic, with most of them having just three lanes. In some places, there are wide open areas or elevated spaces for snipers.
The only “special” feature of the game is health pickups, which are otherwise common for shooters. You can’t even swap weapons or buy new ones. The lack of features is why I got bored with the game relatively quickly.
As someone who has played Dota 2, League of Legends, and other MOBAs extensively, I can tell you that Paladins has one of the most complex systems I’ve ever seen. As previously mentioned, the customization options remind me of LoL, where you can create unique presets and builds before entering a match.
Here’s a short breakdown of all these mechanics and how they work.
Every champion has three Talents. These are passive abilities that persist throughout the match and usually augment one of your primary skills. Choosing one of them will have a major impact on your playstyle, and might even affect your role within the team.
At first, you only have access to the default Talent. You gain another one at Mastery level 2, and you unlock the third one at Mastery level 8. As for the Mastery levels, you increase them by playing the same character over and over again.
Similar to Talents, Cards are chosen during the loadout phase, and they empower your skills. Combining specific Talents and Cards can help you focus on specific aspects of the character. I love these features as they allow you to create some wonky, overpowered builds.
Unlike Talents, you can pick 5 Cards. Each one of them has a specific rank and potency shown in numbers from 1 to 5 (also referred to common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary Cards). Your total Card rank cannot exceed 15.
When you start playing a champion, you have access to three optimal pre-build loadout. But you can also create customized setups.
Items in Paladins are different from Items in any other game. In fact, they’re like universal Cards meant to work for every champion. All Items can be categorized as offensive, defensive, healing, and utility.
You can purchase them with Credits. This is a unique in-game currency that you obtain by completing specific tasks based on your class. Every character can have up to four Items, and each one of them can be upgraded three times.
What Does Overwatch Do Better?
Overwatch is probably the better game out of these two. However, I don’t think that the difference is as big as some people like to believe. For example, many MOBA veterans criticized Overwatch for being too simple. The hero pool was also small compared to similar titles on the market.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a nice shooter to keep you occupied for a few weeks, you should definitely try this game. Here are a few things that Overwatch does better than Paladins:
- Superior graphics
- Smooth gameplay
- Not many bugs
- Great roles
- Emphasis on teamplay
What Does Paladins Do Better?
For such a promising title, Paladins didn’t amount to much. In 2022, it has a measly player base of several thousand gamers, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the company closes its servers in the near future.
Here are the things that Paladins does better than Overwatch:
- A complex, intricate system
- Lots of customization options that keep games fresh
- Intricate maps
- Bigger hero pool
Which Is Better Overall and Why?
I wish to preface this by saying that I’m not a big fan of Overwatch. In fact, I would play much more Paladins if the game wasn’t so inherently broken. Unfortunately, many bugs, crashes and awful matchmaking made Hi-Rez’s title unplayable.
If Paladins were developed the way they should’ve been, I would give it an advantage over Overwatch. A large number of customization options and steep learning curves are good reasons for players to stick with the game for several years. In the end, we’ve seen something similar with Dota 2 and League of Legends.
However, given that this didn’t happen, I’ll have to go with Overwatch as the superior game. This is a fast-paced FPS where you have to alternate between shooting and using skills. While relatively dull, especially during its early days, Overwatch can be fun for a few weeks. The game is well-polished and shines when played with friends.
Although both of these games are incredible in their own regard, some people would still like to explore other options. Here are some of the best alternatives to these two titles:
- League of Legends
- Dota 2
- Apex Legends
- Team Fortress 2
- Unreal Tournament
- Quake 3
Question: Which is older, Overwatch or Paladins?
Answer: Overwatch and Paladins has similar development timelines. Hi-Rez Studios started its closed beta on November 17th, 2015, while Blizzard released the first version of beta on October 27th, 2015. Both were launched in the same year. Overwatch was officially released on May 24th, 2016, and Paladins on September 16th, 2016.
Question: Is Paladins better than Overwatch?
Answer: Although Paladins had a lot of promise, it turned out to be the inferior title. The game was plagued by numerous bugs and matchmaking issues, often making it unplayable. On the other hand, Overwatch is a polished product with incredible graphics.
Question: Did Paladins copy Overwatch characters?
Answer: The simple answer is no. However, as it goes with MOBAs, there are some similarities between the characters in these two games. Most notably, champions in Paladins have similar ability layouts as heroes in Overwatch.
Paladins vs Overwatch: Conclusion
Unfortunately, Paladins has been on a decline for a while. If you check Steam data, you’ll notice there are several thousand people enjoying the title. Given the major issues with matchmaking, this makes it even harder to find a solid game.
As for Overwatch 1, the servers for this game have been recently shut down. Luckily, you can still enjoy Overwatch 2. This is an incredible MOBA shooter that emphasizes teamplay and proper use of abilities. Although not my favorite game from this genre, the fact that millions play it speaks volumes about its quality.
My suggestion is to try both titles while you still have time. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Paladins won’t stay with us for a long time. Hi-Rez Studios have struggled with money from the onset, and player data indicates they might be forced to shut down their server in the near future.