When Hi-Rez Studios' free-to-play hero shooter Paladins went into beta on Steam, many people got to jump into the zany, five-on-five combat for the first time. Even folks returning from the closed beta got to play a game that had changed drastically from its early incarnations from late last year.
It takes cues from many games in the arena FPS subgenre like Overwatch or Paragon, meaning it has a lot of nuance, and beginners will need help parsing it all. Let this guide be your first step to heroic enlightenment.
1. Stay on the Objective
Like any game of this type, the only way to win is to complete objectives. Fire fights with the enemy should be a means to that end, but time and again it becomes the tunnel-visioned focus for players. You’re wasting time, energy, and cooldowns if you’re trolling the battlefield for kills and not making Capture Points and Payload escorting your goal. A question you should always ask when scrutinizing your own actions and playstyle: How is this helping my team win? If the answer doesn’t involve the words “get our team an Objective Point,” then you’re doing something wrong.
2. Channel Your Inner Tribesman
Maps in Paladins often feature mixtures of wide open spaces spotted with buildings and terrain, which provide multiple mini-settings to have skirmishes in. Many fire fights move from happening over great distances to air tight spaces in a matter of moments, which can change styles up drastically. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that sort of moment-to-moment action is what made Tribes such a popular game series for shooter fans. The similarities shouldn’t be that surprising, especially considering Hi-Rez is responsible for the most recent entry in the series, Tribes: Ascend.
What does that mean, gameplay wise? It means elevation advantages and cover are your best friends. Many characters in Paladins have abilities that have areas of effect (just like in another Hi-Rez game, SMITE) ,and the best way to avoid those is to be above them. Cover is never a bad thing in a shooter, and making your target area, or “hitbox,” as small as possible always increases your chances of survival.
3. Good Team Composition Is Vital
Like in any team game that involves different positions and different sets of skills, knowing how teams coalesce into something greater than the sum of their parts is the most important decision you can make before ever stepping foot on the battlefield. In Paladins, making these choices factors heavily on understanding how fights get engaged, how to counter particular types of attacks, and how to best cover up your own weaknesses. Difficult questions to answer without tons of experience.
As far as team building is concerned, many players gravitate to a few generally accepted practices - like having two Tanks at all times. Tanks like Barik and Ruckus are difficult to move from Capture Points, and they have kits that specialize in keeping the rest of the team safe, be it by making themselves targets or harassing the enemy into a state of disarray. Doubling down on them means you can get a pair that can do both.
Healers like Grover or Grohk are officially called the Support class. They help keep friendlies healthy and are a must in these set-ups. Every Support can heal in some way, but it’s important to understand how a particular healer can help your particular Tanks.
Having a Flanker and a Damager will fill out your balanced party of five. Damagers do exactly that, deal high amounts of consistent damage, often at longer ranges. Folks like Kinessa or Cassie are basically who your Tanks are meant to defend. They’re pretty conspicuous and are relatively easy to find in your back line, so you need to make it fairly difficult for your enemy to reach them.
Flankers are more assertive. Androxus, Skye, and others weave their way into the tender bits of the enemy formation either unnoticed or too fast to do anything about. Once there, they put overwhelming beatings on the most vulnerable members of the group. Flankers usually benefit more from the up-front chaos a good Damager can provide, so they can catch distracted foes. Some ranked metas use two Flankers instead of a Damager/Flanker mix to take advantage of their damage/debuff potential.
4. Stay Together, Work Together
Paladins is a first-person shooter, but at its core, it borrows from the same team based games Battleborn and Overwatch do. This means you can’t treat your matches like you would Call of Duty. Being lone wolf snipers and wandering self-starters isn’t how you’ll win this game.
The only way to competently use your team’s pre-planned synergy to full effect is to stay together as a team and work as a unit. These sound like redundant statements, but these are different things, in practice.
You’ll never be close enough to benefit from Fernando’s shield if you’re nowhere near him. The map is big and it’s very easy to find yourself too far from the team to be of any use if something goes down. Especially when you're a flanker, it’s ultimately important to never be more than a couple seconds away from aiding a teammate in whatever it is they’re doing. The difference between five characters on a field and a team is how they work together.
5. Cards Are Important
The most unique part of Paladins is how it integrates a card system on top of all the shooting. Every character has a set of cards available to them to mix-and-match into five card hands called Loadouts. Each card adds unique bonuses to particular abilities, or passive buffs and alterations to characters. For the most part, they add a bit of variation to games, and they can help narrow or broaden the playstyle of particular champions as needed. In order to get the most effect from them, you’ll have to invest some time trying to understand them. Easier said than done, sure. But knowing the difference 200 health can make to The Bomb King’s Poppy Bombs makes Ablative Coating IV a great answer to the question of why your bombs don't stay alive longer.
You get cards a few ways: in chests when your player level rises, through in-game currency, or with real money (by buying the in-game currency). You can also craft them by discarding cards you don’t want and turning them into a material to make cards you do want.
If you’re stuck on how to decide what Loadouts are the best, there are plenty of resources online. Paladinsdecks.com or the Paladins subreddit are good places to start. Don’t rely too much on premades or “metas” - this isn’t Hearthstone. Just do what makes sense for how you play the game, and it should pay dividends.
Good Paladins play starts with the basics, and hopefully this guide helps you in that regard. If you have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to come to our Paladins Wiki for the answers.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.