Hi-Rez Studios is working on a “Paladins” update that will add a progression system to the game. Unfortunately, this system is receiving a lot of backlash from fans, for it greatly resembles Electronic Arts’ controversial “Star Wars Battlefront II” microtransactions system. The prospect of having this loot box-based progression system is worrying players, for its implementation could lead to an unfair environment among the community.

Just recently, the makers of “Paladins” updated the game’s public test server to introduce a new card upgrade system called Cards Unbound. Fans right away noticed the resemblance between the “Paladin’s” progression system and “Battlefront II’s” pay-to-win Star Cards System.

Cards Unbound basically unlocks all types of cards in the game, be it Basic or Legendary. The cards in the game have also been updated and categorized into levels, from 1 to 5. Players can only advance their cards by collecting duplicates, and it is a must to do so for there is a big difference between the power of level 1 cards and level 5 cards. The power difference is so significant that a level 1 Evie’s Cold Acclimation card reduces self-damage from weapon backsplash by 20 percent, while a level 5 card reduces damage by 100 percent, according to PC Gamer.

However, advancing cards is not that easy. The duplicates required for a level-up are a lot. For example, it would take 42 duplicates to transform a level 1 common card to level 5. Required duplicates for legendary cards are very few (only 4), but this is only because legendary card duplicates are quite rare. It goes without saying that it would take a lot of time to level up cards.

For players who want to advance their cards but do not want to spend hours just to collect duplicates, Hi-Rez is pushing for an alternative: one that involves purchasing loot boxes. And this is where the backlash is coming from. As per US Gamer, many players are worried that some people could gain an advantage by skipping past grinding and just buying loot boxes. This is the same sentiment that many “Battlefront II” fans expressed upon knowing that players could just purchase loot crates to level up their Star Cards.

At present, players collect cards in the game either by crafting them or opening in-game chests. In the open beta update, players are no longer allowed to craft their own cards because Essence — the currency for crafting cards — has been removed. They simply rely on randomly dropped cards from loot boxes. Therefore, players who have the resources to buy loot boxes could easily have the upper hand in matches.

It is important to note that the Cards Unbound system only applies to Quick Play mode, which is going to replace the Casual queue. In Ranked Mode, every card a player has will automatically be set to level 3. Hi-Rez says this is to ensure that “Ranked is all about player skill. There is no longer any grind for cards in Ranked.”

The emergence of Cards Unbound comes at a time when many players are mad at Electronic Arts for the microtransactions system it made for “Star Wars Battlefront II.” Thus, fans are disappointed that Hi-Rez is developing a similar system for its free-to-play game. Hi-Rez is well-aware of the harsh criticism, which is why, like Electronic Arts, it has also removed the the microtransactions system from the open beta, according to Kotaku.

“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,” Hi-Rez said in a statement.

Just like Electronic Arts, Hi-Rez is also planning on re-introducing the feature. The developer for now wants to focus on refining it before it goes live. “As we continue to develop the system, we do so with three goals in mind:

  • Creating the ultimate Competitive mode that is 100 percent fair and 100 percent free. No matter how much time or money is spent, everyone will be on equal footing.
  • Enhancing our Casual mode to be less restrictive and more over-the-top to serve our many players who have asked for a fun-first experience.
  • Ensuring the free-to-play experience is excellent. We recognize that 90 percent of our players will never spend money with us and those players are the lifeblood of our multiplayer game.”

Meanwhile, there are several ongoing petitions asking Hi-Rez not to introduce the Cards Unbound system to the game. One petition made by Alex Di Costanzo has already accumulated 4,934 supporters as of writing. The goal of the petition is to gather 5,000 signatures. 

Paladins Fans are mad that “Paladins” makers are working on a loot box-based progression system. Photo: Paladins.com