By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer
With over a dozen general video game genres, comparisons are bound to occur. Action franchise “Devil May Cry” is often likened to the button-mashing, quick-timed-event filled “God of War.” “Metroid” and “Castlevania” have similar map layouts, as well as exploration-based gameplay. However, while inspiration can create a unique, albeit familiar experience, blatant imitation is often frowned upon in the gaming world.
Earlier last week, popular YouTuber “videogamedunkey,” known for producing satirical videos about the latest trends in gaming, posted a video detailing the striking similarities between Blizzard Entertainment’s “Overwatch,” and Hi-Rez Studios’ “Paladins.” The ironically dubbed “Paladins of the Realm” has been viewed over two million times, drawing questions and concerns from the gaming community.
For starters, certain characters and their respective abilities in “Paladins” mirror those found within “Overwatch.” Sprinting, hook throwing, jet-packing and ice-encasing moves in both games look and behave in the exact same manner.
After the video became viral, gamers and journalists alike began analyzing every detail between the objective-based shooters. Websites, magazines and forums quickly filled their pages with conclusions about the games, some in support of “Overwatch,” and others “Paladins.” The gaming world became so divided that Hi-Rez Studios’ Todd Harris took to Reddit with a lengthy post defending the game.
“While Overwatch is a fine game, we want people to understand that game development is an iterative process with many ideas coming from past projects. This is true for Hi-Rez and almost every other game studio,” Harris said. “For a hero shooter, the game that deserves the most credit for the genre is TF2 (Team Fortress 2).”
Harris went on to further explain that while it is true that “Paladins” and “Overwatch” share similarities, especially with character abilities, the two games are in fact different. Most notably, he said that “Paladins” was in production years before the reveal of Blizzard Entertainment’s juggernaut.
However, many gamers were quick to note that “Overwatch” introduced itself to the public before “Paladins,” leaving Hi-Rez Studios with plenty of time to incorporate some features. So who is really at fault? Did these two games copy one another, or did they merely take inspiration from past titles?
As Harris mentioned, Valve’s “Team Fortress 2,” which released in 2007, pioneered the objective-based team-shooter genre. They were the first to introduce the “payload,” a cart that must be pushed across a map to a final destination. Certain classes, such as the Engineer, Medic and Demoman are found within both “Overwatch” and “Paladins.”
To further reinforce “Team Fortress 2’s” prominence, “Overwatch’s” director, Jeff Kaplan has publicly stated that comparing his game with Valve’s is an incredible compliment.
“We love that game; it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time. Those guys are geniuses; that guy, Robin Walker, up at Valve – I had the honor of meeting him,” Kaplan mentioned after answering a fan question at BlizzCon.
Video games are much like works of art. Developers regularly take inspiration from past titles to fuel their creativity, as well as pay homage to some of their favorite games. With “Overwatch” and “Paladins,” gamers should not focus on their similarities, but rather their differences.
Are the gameplay mechanics difficult to distinguish, or are gamers in the wrong with their arguments? The answer, as it currently stands, is difficult to determine. Yet, with “Overwatch’s” immense success, and “Paladins’” lengthy production, we should be thrilled for the future of objective-based shooters, instead of criticizing their features.