The popularity of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has inspired yet another developer to create a spinoff of the battle royale concept. Hi-Rez Studios announced Paladins: Battlegrounds during its annual Hi-Rez Expo Thursday. Will battle royale mixed with a hero shooter be enough of a draw in an increasingly crowded genre?
For the unfamiliar, Paladins is free-to-play hero shooter for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that features 5 vs. 5 objective-based matches with unique characters, similar to Overwatch. The game has been generally successful since it started its beta release in 2016. However, it has hit a rough patch of water lately as fans have accused Hi-Rez of turning the game into a pay-to-win experience with the recent Cards Unbound update.
Paladins: Battlegrounds will take the roster of more than 30 heroes and make them available in a 100-player free-for-all match on a map 300 times larger than the largest current Paladins map. Battlegrounds will share many of the same features as other battle royale shooters like PUBG and Fortnite Battle Royale. This includes an encroaching circle to force players together, supply drops, and loot scattered throughout various structures.
The main hook is the use of heroes teamed up in squads in Paladins: Battlegrounds. The number of players compared to the number of available characters obviously necessitates that some characters will be played more than once during a match. Horses will also be available to help players quickly travel to different points on the map. The mounts were a fast-mode of travel when Paladins was first released in alpha but largely removed after Hi-Rez shrank the maps.
Things to pay attention to in Paladins: Battlegrounds include how the microtransaction and loot box system will work within the mode. Hi-Rez Studios has taken a tremendous amount of heat from the Paladins community over the Cards Unbound update. Will the same card-based hero upgrade mechanics be applied to Battlegrounds or will the developer stick to a cosmetic-only approach?
Another question include what kind of gear will drop during a Paladins: Battlegrounds match? The game’s heroes are already decked out in weapons and abilities. Will these all transfer over or only a selection?
The decision to base Paladins: Battlegrounds matches around squads is a wise one given the class-based nature of the heroes. This means squads can mix it up to find the right balance between tanks, offensive, assassins, and support classes to win.
PUBG creator Brendan Greene and the executives at Bluehole had previously mentioned that they expect other studios to develop their own battle royale-style games. While some of Greene’s arguments are about being very protective of a genre he helped start years ago as mods to ArmA 2, he’s also expressed the hope that other games have their own unique take and not be a straight carbon copy.
However, this is the first time a competitor has used “Battlegrounds” in the name. It will be interesting to see if this results in any sort of trademark or copyright dispute between Bluehole and Hi-Rez Studios.
[Edit: Updated article based on confirmation that Battlegrounds matches will be squad-based.]