|Derry L. Zimeye|
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One of my players, who's been a ride or die Paladin fan since day 1, is severely disappointed in the Paladin in 2e, and I can't help but agree. The removal of one of their most iconic abilities, Smite, makes them overall a much weaker class. Their one offensive ability is retributive strike, which requires a reaction- and while I love it, you also need your reaction for all the shield stuff you're given. None of the Paladin's abilities are particularly good at damage dealing- I understand the desire to make them tanky, but at the cost of ALL DPS I think is a huge mistake. Plus, the level 20 abilities are super weak; in PF1, you got the power to banish fiends with your smite, and you got DR10 at level 20. Cool! At level 20, you can give your mount wings or give your sword the dancing property. It's just not as exciting. Overall, I think most classes are looking great- paladin though needs a big rework to make the legendary heroes from 1e instead of defender healbots.
Smite Evil should be a champion power that does burst damage, even if you have to use your 1st level feat for it. Right now there are only Lay on Hands, 3 litanies, Hero's Defiance and Paladin's Sacrifice. Lay on Hands d4's without feat investiment aren't that good, so there is very little reason to focus on CHA.
I think I'm in a similar boat to your player, paladins have always been my favorite class in fantasy rpgs and I was massively disappointed in the direction that paizo is taking the class. Removing Smite in any real form and instead have a neutered version of it spread across multiple feats and tying them to retributive strike encourages a more defensive play style. Retributive Strike is a cool ability in its own right but it should not be the core feature of the class or at least giving the option of a more offensive version of it that also benefits from feats that enhance retributive strike.