The question also isn't if paladins should get their big smite damage back. That ship has sailed. The intended concept of the paladin in this edition is obviously that of a protector.
It's an inherently flawed design that has upset a lot of people. With fierce enough backlash Paizo can either redesign the Paladin to what it should be, or delete the class outright.
So the real question is if they can fill this role properly. The whole premise of this thread is that paladins are reactive and not proactive. That is a basic misconception of what retributive strike is supposed to do. It's a carrot and a stick. Don't hit my friends or I hit you. So you better hit me. It's an elegant solution to what was lacking in RPG's. It's a taunt. Sure you can reposition as an opponent. But that messes with the action economy. It's a win win situaton for the paladin with this simple retributive strike mechanic. It is not about the reaction at all. It's about how retributive strike changes the decisionmaking and actioneconomy of the opponents.
It's terrible at doing what you suggest. It has no range, other than your weapons. Enemies with reach can avoid ever triggering it, very easily. And it forces the Paladin to stay next to backline allies.
There's also the fact the concept of a defender is inherently flawed. The best way to defend is by killing things effectively. Paladins in the past have been defined by what they can kill effectively (a.k.a. big bad evil things). Actual defensive abilities have always come secondary.
That being said, it's not his only mechanic to be the protector. Lay on hands and later on the ability to block damage with his shield for other players rounds it up. He is the best in his role. Being the protector.
Lay on Hands is weak in this playtest and shield block also has real problems with action economy, especially competing with Retributive Strike and having similarly awful range.
Pathfinder 2 attempts to give every class it's own niche. That doesn't take away from the experience. You want to deal a lot of damage? Play fighter. That's their dedicated role.
The Fighter's role is to be the best over the course of a long adventuring day. In the skirmishes leading up to the BBEG? The Fighter should be better than the Paladin. In the BBEG fight? That's where the Paladin is meant to shine. This is how it worked in PF1.
And to this whole fluff debate: Paladins in old editions didn't have smite at all. That was added later to make that class more appealing. The big mistake was to make that way too strong and to make it the big centerpiece of the class.
Giving the Paladin a meaningful reason to exist was not a mistake.
This PF2 version of the Paladin class is a mistake.
This Paladin is terrible at being even a defender, though. It's even worse than the 4e version of the class, which I didn't think was even possible.
The premade Crusader class in The Elder Scrolls series focused on heavy martial combat and restoration magic. No offensive capability besides what a weapon normally afforded you.
Not a good example. Classes in The Elder Scrolls were a superfluous construct in general. Major and minor skills, which is all classes were in those games, didn't affect what kind of build anybody could be in the end. Every class was capable of being any build.
They finally recognized that when they removed classes altogether for Skyrim.
In Final Fantasy IV (and I think a couple others? been a while), your Knight character later upgrades into a Paladin, which allows you to continue swinging your sword like a normal Knight and affords you low level support magic.
In FFIV, Cecil's best weapons still did the most damage against undead creatures. A Paladin staple. Again, not the best example to use for the point you're trying to make.
I have to be careful even mentioning Warcraft on these boards, but like it or not, Warcraft is one of the most iconic sources of Paladins that exists. The Warcraft III paladins had healing, a defensive aura, and a mass resurrection ability. Their healing ability could harm undead etc like Lay on Hands. Not much offensive focus there.
Someone already mentioned the Retribution Paladin, which is meant to deal a lot of damage.
That applies to the entire game. Not all actions are applicable at all times. Having Reactive abilities are not a bad thing.
No, having reactive abilities is not a bad thing in and of itself. Having your entire class designed off a reactive ability, however, is a bad thing.
No, your allies can deal with them with you. This is a group game, not solo player. You all work together.
Problem is that the Paladin clearly isn't pulling his weight in the party. Both from my own experience with the playtest plus every playtest report I've seen and read so far.
I understand that many players liked the big damage from smite that they had in the previous edition. It's a completely different concept now and people have to get used to it first. It also opens up way more possibilities and playstyles than the old version.
"Different" is not the problem. Lack of effectiveness is. The Paladin in PF2 is forced into a playstyle that is inherently ineffective and has been for 40 years of TTRPGs. It doesn't "open up" any possibilities and playstyles compared to the PF1 Paladin. It takes them away.
Except every other class' core abilities work regardless of enemy tactics. Retributive Strike doesn't. That's why the ability is a dumpster fire, along with the class that was misguidedly built around it.
Paladin of Erastil, probably.
An ability shouldn't have to rely on a DM running encounters with intentionally stupid enemy tactics to be useful.
2. On top of being way too weak as the OP says, Blade of Justice really should be something that every Paladin can do regardless of what Righteous Ally they picked.
3. A few ways to improve Retributive Strike I can think of:
Also, 5. The 20th level feats are just generally underwhelming.
Totally agree. One of many, many, many problems with this class as a whole.
I'd rather Paizo just return completely to the drawing board for the Paladin, but that's probably not realistic at this point. I suppose one *possible* fix in light of that would be to let Retributive Strike trigger on an attack against the Paladin, but in that case it's done at a -5 penalty instead of -2?
Granted, that wouldn't even come close to fixing everything else wrong with this class. Let's be honest, it's easily the worst rendition of the Paladin anywhere, and that's impressive considering how bad it was in D&D 3.x and 4e. But, gotta start somewhere, and where better than the Lv. 1 feature it's theoretically built around.