One of the biggest announcements out of HRX 2018 thus far has been the unveiling of Paladins: Battlegrounds — the battle royale game mode headed to Hi-Rez’s hero-based shooter. Paladins: Battlegrounds will scatter 100 players in teams of four across a massive map and challenge them to eliminate players on the enemy teams until they are the last ones standing. While the game mode sounds fun, it also sounds a bit too familiar for many players’ liking. It didn’t take long after the reveal trailer was released for comparisons to PUBG to start popping up, which would mark the second time Paladins was accused of ripping off another game by some fans.
During an interview with Twinfinite, Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris addressed the PUBG comparisons by not only explaining the differences between the games but also by emphasizing what the games have in common. “The first point is that our perspective is that battle royale is really a mode and not a game,” Harris explained. “So in the same way that many games have team deathmatch but the core mechanics in gameplay is different, that’s what we think is going to happen with battle royale.”
Both PUBG and Paladins: Battlegrounds will have the same objective with the same amount of people in the game and both will take place on massive, sprawling maps. According to Hi-Rez devs, however, the similarities don’t go much further than that. “What makes this mode stand out in Paladins is that Paladins is a hero-based shooter,” Harris added. “The core of those mechanics are very different than a traditional shooter.” Paladins: Battlegrounds keeps the use of hero classes at its core so this battle royale game mode still has team work at its foundation.
In addition to focusing on team work and hero classes, Harris explained that Paladins: Battlegrounds is taking the battle royale mode to a fantasy-based map that features mounts. The idea is that this game mode will still feel more like a “fantasy MMO and not like you’re going into an urban shooter environment.” This changes the art and aesthetic that players can expect from Paladins: Battlegrounds when compared to PUBG.
Another difference between the games that Harris stressed was what players will use within each match to become more powerful. In a game like PUBG, picking up new gear and weapons give players the upper hand. In Paladins: Battlegrounds, players will be collecting various items that range from common to legendary that create a more MMO feel overall. By ignoring these kinds of differences, devs feel like it will be easy for players to take a “cursory look” at the new game mode and make some of the wrong comparisons. Harris even acknowledged that the PUBG comparisons are reminiscent to the wave of controversy that hit Paladins upon release when players felt like the game was a copy cat version of Overwatch. Despite the comparisons, devs feel confident that as people give the game mode a try they will see just how different it actually is from other games in the same genre.
With so much of comparisons focusing solely on PUBG but skimming over games like Fortnite, it’s also very likely that the similar titles are responsible for much of those cursory looks. Releasing a game mode called “Battlegrounds” in the midst of all the PUBG hype is a particularly risky move, but both Harris and Hi-Rez President Stew Chisam stand behind the title for a very simple reason. It’s simply the most accurate way to describe this particular game mode and set expectations for new players. Chisam explained that “battlegrounds” is a generic term that simply describes a type of game and that’s exactly why it can’t be trademarked. Harris agreed with the statement and explained that the title lets players know that “it’s probably a big map, there’s probably a lot of people, it’s probably like the last one standing.”
Since Paladins: Battlegrounds, just like its base game, is free to play, Harris believes that enough players will dive in and see the differences and the game’s roots will grow organically by word of mouth. Much of the Overwatch controversy died out over time this way and it’s very likely that the new battlegrounds mode in Paladins will see the same results if there is truly enough there to warrant Hi-Rez’s claims that this a unique battle royale experience all its own.