Blizzard's Overwatch is a smash hit. Not only has it sold millions of copies worldwide, but the game's colorful cast of characters has already become iconic. The game recently enjoyed a free weekend on consoles, so even more players got the chance to try out Overwatch for themselves.
Shortly after that free weekend came the open beta for a new game from Hi-Rez Studios called Paladins: Champions of the Realm. Reading the game's description, it sounds fairly unique. It features a large roster of colorful heroes whose abilities can each be customized and tweaked via a collectible card system. However, actually watching gameplay of Paladins in action, it becomes clear that the game looks to borrow more than a few ideas from Overwatch.
For example, Paladins has a dwarf champion named Barik who shoots molten steel out of his weapon. He also builds turrets. His ultimate ability creates a "Mega Turret." Any of this sound familiar? Overwatch's Torbjorn also builds turrets, shoots molten steel out of his weapon and creates a more powerful turret with his ultimate ability. Oh, and he's also a dwarf.
The Barik vs. Torbjorn comparison is perhaps the most obvious, but there are plenty of others. Soldier 76 and Viktor have plenty in common, both being generic soldier-type characters who can sprint. Makoa hooks people with a chain, just like Roadhog. Androxus is a blend of two Overwatch heroes, with many of the abilities of McCree and the visual look of Reaper. There's a character named Evie who shoots ice and can turn into an ice block, two iconic abilities used by Mei. Then, there's Fernando, a massive knight who wields a flamethrower with one hand and a shield in the other. At first, he looks to be far different from Overwatch's Reinhardt, until he extends his shield into a massive energy barrier for his team to hide behind. Fernando can also charge people, just like Reinhardt.
You get the idea. There are even more examples, but the ones above are the most obvious. Many of the characters in Paladins listed above look far different from the Overwatch characters from which they draw inspiration. Paladins does feature a number of champions that have no real Overwatch counterpart as well, but their inclusion just goes to point out the obviousness of some of the game's most blatant knock-offs. Really, another dwarf that shoots magma and builds turrets? Really? That's not even mentioning how the game types in Paladins are almost identical to that of Overwatch to boot (though to be fair, Overwatch didn't exactly invent the escort payload game type, either).
Now, it's not uncommon to see copycat games in the mobile space. Mere days after the release of wildly-popular mobile games on the Apple App Store (like Angry Birds, for example), copycat developers attempt to cash-in on the success of others by making an almost identical clone of the popular game.
That's not the case here. Paladins has been in the works for a while now, but one would think that perhaps some characters or concepts may have been changed following the release of Overwatch. It may be just dumb luck that both games feature dwarfs that build turrets and shoot magma, but Overwatch released first. With that in mind, the burden is on Hi-Rez to differentiate Paladins from its more popular competition. If they don't, it will surely spawn more than a few jokes in the weeks and months ahead.
You can try Paladins: Champions of the Realm for free on PC now.