Free-to-play hero shooter Paladins has taken Steam by storm since entering open beta on 16 September. According to sales and player stat trackers, the early access title from Hi-Rez Studios has become one of the top games based on concurrent players and has been downloaded almost 800,000 times.
Developed by the creators of hit MOBA Smite and the critically acclaimed FPS Tribes: Ascend, Paladins has been subject to a fair amount of wry looks due to its aesthetic and mechanical similarities to Blizzard's Overwatch.
Despite the lingering criticisms – several Steam users have referred to Hi-Rez Studios' offering as "Overwatch for poor people" – since entering open beta on 16 September, Paladins has been downloaded 788,324 times at time of writing (via SteamSpy), with a peak of 38,439 concurrent players on 18 September.
Players also seem to be relatively impressed with the game, garnering a "very positive" overall rating of 84% based on 10,065 user reviews on Steam. According to the page's description, the shooter is "very much in beta" and "iterating on ideas and player feedback." It also states that despite being in early access, the game will "always be free-to-play".
Paladins utilises the same hero shooter formula of titles such as Overwatch and Gearbox's Battleborn, where players choose from a broad selection of diverse "Champions" with different skill-sets and strengths in the game's '5v5' arenas. Hi-Rez Studios' take on the increasingly popular genre differentiates itself with its contemporaries with a MOBA-lite Card and Deck system that influence a hero's abilities in battle, and ride-able mounts such as horses and mechs.
Hi-Rez Studios' COO Todd Harris addressed criticisms that Paladins is an Overwatch 'clone' in a statement to IGN. Harris argued that many of the similarly styled characters "were available and playable in the Paladins beta long before similar character abilities were shown in Overwatch" and are inspired by genre classics such as Team Fortress 2, but with a fantasy design twist.