Overwatch is one of the most popular and bestselling team-based shooters for the PC. Produced by Blizzard, Overwatch takes the simple premise of a 5v5 team based shooter and made it into a revitalized the genre for many newcomers and veterans. Most people are that at the same time of Overwatch’s release another game named Battleborn was also released. Battleborn was similar to Overwatch i.e. team based shooter with different characters and it died a swift death. By swift death, I mean unpopulated servers and low player community.
I bought Overwatch upon its release and enjoyed Season 1 and Season 2 of it a lot. It was fun, it was semi-competitive and I enjoyed all of the different characters in the game. However, in all of the Overwatch hype, I was unaware of other games in the team-based shooter genre. I stepped out of my comfort zone of Overwatch a bit and tried Dirtybomb and Paladins to see if they can stand up against the fun and beauty of Overwatch.
I tried Dirtybomb first. For me, Dirtybomb is a mixture of Battlefield and Counter-Strike. It has the class system of Battlefield i.e. Assault, Medic, Engineer etc and the physics of Counter-Strike. There are many things to like about Dirtybomb. Here are some of them:
- Free-to-Play. You can’t go wrong with free.
- The game handles really well. The shooting physics feels grounded in reality as compared to Overwatch where you have to suspend your disbelief which is why I said it felt like Counter-Strike. I could see that people who excelled in Counter-Strike Source or Go would do well in this game.
- In each match you play you can choose from three classes (which you outfit before the match starts). You can change your class when you die, similar to Overwatch. This is a good design because it limits the choices of players and pushes their skill even more. Some people may disagree that limiting a player to three classes is a bad thing, but for me it makes the game more focused and teammates would have a better idea of what classes in the teams are needed.
Here is my gripe with Dirtybomb. It tries to mix the realism of Counter-Strike with the squad-based gameplay of Battlefield. It tries to promote a squad based gameplay, but for me it doesn’t quite land. I’ll try to explain why. In Battlefield, the main game mode is Conquest and Domination where players are attacking or defending an objective for points. With these game modes, you need to work as a unit and utilize the different classes to defeat the opposing team’s strategy. It would be difficult for all players on your team to choose the same class and win the match. In Counter-Strike, the main game mode is Bomb Defusal (Terrorist vs Counter-Terrorist), which doesn’t rely on utilizing different classes e.g. All Counter Terrorists can use SMG’s only or Snipers only and win. Dirtybomb wants players to use different classes in the game, but for the matches I played, depending on the game type, most times all the players could pick the same class and win the game. Dirtybomb is a nice alternative to Overwatch as its grounded in reality and has a surprisingly high player population. If you play Dirtybomb long enough and get a handle on the game physics and which class suits you, you can sit back and ‘farm’ players and chuckle at them until another high level player comes along that will give you a good shootout. Overall, it’s a good game and I’m quite surprised I’ve never heard its name before in the team-based shooter genre.
As soon as I started my first game in Paladins I shouted ‘OVERWATCH CLONE!’. Yes, Paladins is essentially Overwatch with different heroes and slightly different game features, which I’ll get into a bit, but if you have played Overwatch you’ve played Paladins. In fact, some of the heroes are the same. I wasn’t able to see all the heroes because Paladins uses a hero selection similar to League of Legends, in that for new accounts most of the heroes are locked away until you purchase them and some heroes are unlocked o play for the week. The two heroes that I’ve seen that are borrowed from Overwatch so far are Drogz (Pharah), Skye (Tracer), Ruckus (Diva), Fernando (Reinhardt) and Viktor (Soldier 47). Also the gameplay is the same. The game physics handles almost exactly the same. Unlike Dirtybomb where I had to readjust to the realistic shooting physics, in Paladins I was right at home. Also similar to Overwatch, each hero has sub abilities and the more they engage the enemy it builds up an Ultimate ability which can be used. Paladins similarly uses the loot box reward system like Overwatch.
While Paladins does indeed share A LOT of similarities with Overwatch, there are some key differences between the two titles. Some of these differences gives Paladins a bit more depth, which I think Overwatch definitely can borrow from. Here are some of the differences:
- Free-to-Play. I mean come on! Free!!
- Champion Loadouts – This is a system where you gain different cards for each champion. Each card is a slight modifier which can affect your champion abilities or your champion’s stats e.g. Viktor has a card named Flak Jacket which can give him 50 extra health and he has a card named Fire in the Hole when he hits an enemy with a grenade he generates 6 ammunition. There are five cards which can be applied to each champion and you gain cards the more you play. Also, points can be put into the cards to increase it’s effects. E.g. Flak Jacket can be increased from 50 extra health to 100 extra health to 150 extra health to 200 extra health. Fire in the Hole can be increased from 6 ammunition to 12 ammunition etc. Cards are gained from loot boxes
- Masteries – Each time you complete a match with a champion, you get experience and your champion levels up. Levelling up gives you gold, loot boxes and special titles for your champion
- In match items – During each match, players earn match currency which can be used to buy items that give them small perks. The four types of items are Defense, Utility, Healing and Attack e.g. Under Utility, you can buy Morale Boost which recharges your Ultimate faster by 15%. Under Healing, you can buy Life Rip which gives your weapon shot 10% life steal.
- More abilities – A Paladin champion has 4 abilities instead of the 3 abilities an Overwatch champions has. Let’s compare Pharah (Overwatch) to Drogoz (Paladins). Pharah has Rocket Launcher, Jump Jet, Concussive Blast and Barrage (Ultimate). Drogoz has Rocket Launcher, Fire Spit, Thrust (Pharah’s Jump Jet), Salvo (Pharah’s Barrage) and Dragon Punch (Ultimate). Even though it’s only one extra ability, it’s still enough to give Paladins more of a variety than what Overwatch currently offers.
- Mounts – Yes, mounts from World of Warcraft. You get a horse to ride into battles with. This was weird…. At first. In Overwatch when you reach a capture an objective, the respawn point moves forward to the last objective so you would not have to travel a far distance across the map to get into the battle. In Paladins, the respawn point doesn’t move, so mounts are needed to get across the map quickly. When you initially see it, you will surely scratch your head in confusion, but after seeing it the second time it become a normal part of the game.
After playing both Dirtybomb and Paladins here is my summary. If you want an experience based in reality more like Counter Strike or Battlefield, then Dirtybomb is your game. Dirtybomb is nicely designed, the maps are interesting and there are enough features to keep you occupied for a long time. It is a vastly different experience to Overwatch. If you want a game similar to Overwatch, but has more depth and more things to pursue I would recommend Paladins. However, Paladins isn’t as refined as Overwatch. I haven’t played Paladins for a long period of time, but from what I’ve seen I believe there are some overpowered champions and combinations. Paladins has features and diversity that Overwatch is lacking because currently all Overwatch is offering to change up the gameplay is skins, but Paladins gives you options to tweak your champion to how you want to play. That option is a huge game changer and you should give it a try if you want a change to the regular gameplay that Overwatch offers. Paladins is a refreshing change of pace.