With the addition of Zandalari Paladins, or “Prelates”, the identity crisis of the Paladin class has worsened.
All of these unique flavors of Paladin make sense in their own way, but only the Human and Dwarven Paladins (including the Dark Iron) are actually referred to as a “Paladin” because all the other races are called something else.
Sin’dorei: Blood Knights, drawing on the Sunwell
Tauren: Sunwalkers, drawing on Anshe
Zandalari: Prelates, drawing on the Loa
Draenei/Lightforged Draenei: Vindicator, drawing on the Naaru
Fix: New Animations
There’s no difference in how it feels playing a Paladin of any of these races from the other. Even if Blizzard didn’t want to introduce new spells unique to each race because that leads to balancing issues, getting a few animations unique to each type of Paladin would be a great start in making the racial choice in your Paladin feel like it meant something.
The new Holy spells might’ve been a great chance to emphasize the difference between these types of Paladins and I’m sad they didn’t seize the opportunity to do so.
Fix: New Name
Because “Paladin” is only suitably to the Human and Dwarf Paladins, it might be worthwhile to rename the Paladin class to something that would more effectively catch all of the other Paladin types in a way that adequate describes them.
I suggest renaming the class to “Paragon”.
A Paragon is defined as a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality and also as a person or thing viewed as a model of excellence.
In WoW, a Paladin is seen as an epitomized ideal of virtue, faith, and leadership. The values of a human Paladin are different than the values of a tauren Blood Knight and a Zandalari Prelate, but what they have in common is that they act as an revered example of what’s important within their own culture.
I think these are minor adjustments to the class that would go a long way to make the different Paladins look and feel as different as they are from one another in the lore while.
Precedent: Druids and Shamans
The lore of the Druid and Shaman is that you’re all part of the same club (Cenarion Circle and Earthen Ring, respectively), and that was how it was way before the Order Halls were a thing. Both groups had been active and consisted of multiple races since the very beginning of the game. Blizzard can get away with designing those classes to be the same for each race because there isn’t a significant distinction between them in lore.
Except they don’t. Despite the fact that all druids are Cenarion Circle druids, they get unique animal forms. Shamans get racial totems.
The Silver Hand was different. It was only expanded to include the other races for the duration of Legion, and now that the Horde and Alliance are at war again, it’s very reasonable to presume that they’ve splintered again. Lady Liadrin is going to war against High Exarch Turalyon in Arathi Highlands, while the Earthen Ring and Cenarion Circle have not splintered and are hanging out with Magni in Silithus to deal with the restoration of the world. Malfurion, leader of the Circle, is agitating in Darkshore after the destruction of Teldrassil, but this is more to do with his role as a leader of the night elves, not his compunction as a druid.
If Druids that are all part of the same unified organization can have unique animal forms, and Shamans that are all part of the same unified organization can have distinct totems, then it’s not unreasonable that Paladins have some kind of racial identifier as well.