A new update to go live on Paladins’ public test server is already drawing a lot of criticism from some of the hero-based shooter’s most dedicated players. In addition to the normal gameplay tweaks, the OB64 patch introduces a new system for how players can use cards to customise their favourite characters and make them more powerful.
Currently, people collect cards by crafting them or opening in-game chests. They then equip those to certain characters prior to matches, in order to adjust their strengths and weaknesses. Under the new system, called Cards Unbound, players will automatically have access to every card in the game (yay!) but those cards will have to be ranked up (boo!). This means players will need to collect duplicates of each card through grinding or purchasing loot crates in order to level them up and max out their stats.
If a player already had a card before the new system, it automatically upgrades to rank III (out of five). The new update also does away with Essence, the game’s currency for crafting cards, meaning players won’t be able to make their own duplicate cards and will instead be reliant on the luck of random drops.
This will only be the case for the game’s Quick Play Mode, however. In Competitive mode, every player’s cards will automatically be set to rank III. In a statement to Kotaku, the game’s publisher Hi-Rez explained that this is to help the game’s casual mode become “less restrictive and more over-the-top” while keeping competitive play “100% fair and 100% free.”
But that means the sizeable chunk of players who prefer to just play casually without big discrepancies in player stats will be out of luck. That’s why players throughout the game’s forums and subreddit went into meltdown mode after Hi-Rez announced the new system. “People that sink a lot of money into the game will have a HUGE advantage in quick play,” wrote one poster.
The Paladins YouTuber Kami posted a video criticising how long it would take new players to rank cards up, given the randomness factor of loot crates. “If you want to upgrade one of these common cards from one to five you will need 43 duplicates of the same card,” he said. Multiply that across the 271 other common cards and it begins to look like an impossible task.
The mobile game Clash Royale already has a similar system in place where players are at the mercy of RNG when leveling up their cards. It can be so annoying even US late night host Jimmy Fallon made fun of it.
In the patch notes, Hi-Rez acknowledged these sentiments: “This is a major change that may be controversial, particularly given some recent questionable moves by full-price games.”
“The vast majority of our players will never spend a dime. Regardless of how much money you have in your wallet, we want to make sure you have a great time. Our number one priority as we introduce Cards Unbound is that the free-to-play experience feels great,” it wrote.
Are you sick of talking about Battlefront II’s loot crates? Me too. Unfortunately, the analogy to this game is inescapable because the new system in Paladins feels a lot like the Battlefront II’s star cards that players spent the greater part of this moth revolting against. In the wake of accusations that Battlefront II was “pay-to-win” because players could purchase loot crates to level up their star cards, EA temporarily removed microtransactions from the game. Hi-Rez has decided to do the same with Paladins, removing the option to buy chests with crystals, the game’s microtransaction currency, while the new system is being tested. As a a free-to-play game, though, Paladins will have to reintroduce them sooner or later.
“We plan to update and adjust the PTS version approximately every two days, with changes driven by community feedback and surveys,” Hi-Rez said in its statement. “What is being played on PTS is very much a work in progress, and we will iterate on the Cards Unbound system until we meet the goals above.”