Did ‘Paladins’ copy ‘Overwatch’? Hi-Rez Studios says no

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Paladins: Guardians of the Realm, a free-to-play team shooter from Smite developer Hi-Rez Studios, entered open beta on September 16, and it didn’t take long for critics to note the similarities to Blizzard’s smash hit Overwatch.

Described by the developer as “a team shooter with a fantasy setting, a sense of humor, and a high degree of customization and strategy,” Paladins is an objective-based, character-centric team shooter that draws inspiration from Team Fortress 2.

Some of its characters, however, have come under fire for featuring similar abilities and appearances as the heroes in Overwatch. “Fernando,” for instance, has  “charge” and “shield” abilities not unlike Reinhardt. “Barik,” who sports an orange beard and can place turrets, looks almost identical to Torbjörn. Like Mei, the character “Evie” can encase herself in a block of ice, and “Drogoz,” like Pharah, can leap into the sky and rain down rockets onto the enemies below.

YouTuber Dunkey pointed out the similarities in a recent video titled “Paladins of the Realm,” which also highlights the chest-based loot system shared in both games, but according to Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris, the games are not even close, baby.

“While Overwatch is a fine game, it was not the inspiration for Paladins. Game development is an interactive process with ideas coming from many past projects,” Harris told IGN in a statement. “For the hero shooter genre, the game that deserves the most credit is Team Fortress 2.”

In a long Reddit post, Harris also notes that Paladins actually spawned from another project called Global Agenda, which released back in 2010. The studio had already been working on the game, including its maps and modes, by the time Overwatch was announced, and Hi-Rez chose to stick with its original vision, regardless of the similarities between the two games.

“About 42 abilities are very similar between Overwatch and Paladins,” Harris adds. “36 of these abilities were previous in Global Agenda or Tribes Ascend.”

Only time will tell if Paladins can be successful in a post-Overwatch world. It’s available now on both PC and Mac.