Paladins, the free-to-play hero shooter, goes into full release next week

The free-to-play online FPS Paladins, which began open beta testing in 2016, will go into full release on May 8, developer Hi-Rez Studios announced today. The studio also released the mobile shooter Paladins Strike today for iOS and Android devices, which will enable players to unlock two free skins in Paladins. 

"We are so excited for the official release of Paladins," executive producer Chris Larson said. "We really want to thank all of our dedicated Beta players for the time and effort they have put into helping Paladins grow. This Launch Celebration is about our players—only with their feedback were we able to make Paladins the amazing game it is today, with drastically improved UI, console aiming, presentation, and gameplay." 

There were a few bumpy patches on the way to release: An update in early 2017 resulted in "pay to win" complaints, and then near the end of the year there was a similar eruption of anger over loot boxes. Despite all that, user reviews on Steam are "very positive" and more importantly, it remains well into the top 20 list, with a peak concurrent player count today of 25,000. 

Hi-Rez is also looking to expand Paladins into the sweet, lucrative Battle Royale genre: The studio announced a BR mode called Paladins: Battlegrounds in January, but decided shortly after to spin it off as an entirely separate game, Paladins Realm Royale, which is now in closed alpha testing. 

Anyone who played Paladins during the beta phase will also be given 200 Crystals, a premium currency used for purchasing cosmetics, for logging in between May 8-31. The beta will continue right up to the full launch, so you've still got most of a week to be eligible for the freebie. All of the game's Champions will also be unlocked until May 7, which makes this week a particularly good time to try it out. And there will be an Esports Superstars: Paladins launch tournament running May 5-6, with six teams including Natus Vincere, SK Gaming, G2 Esports, and Fnatic battling it out for a slice of a $100,000 prize pool.