I realize that this is a thread necro, and I'm definitely late to the party. But this is an interesting topic, and it seems better to just thread necro than create a new thread on the same topic.
I think that there are two very different ways to look at the question of favorite paladin order. There's the which order's abilities/talents do you like best. And then there's the which order's background do you like best. Being more of a role player, I prefer the second question.
I'm rather old school when it comes to paladins. I personally don't like this semi-supporting leadership style of paladin. I prefer the old school "holy warrior" style of paladin. It seems a lot more fun to me. But sadly, that's not what's in PoE.
Furthermore, I don't particularly like the Darcozzi or Gold Pact Knight orders, because I don't see any central concept or ideology that defines them. The Gold Pact Knights seem more like a mercenary group than an order of paladins. And fighting for whomever pays you the most hardly seems like an ideology that should define a group of paladins. As for the Darcozzi, I can't even go that far. I have no idea at all what binds them together, other than being guardians and ambassadors of the Darcozzi family, which again hardly seems like something that should define a group of paladins. In both of these cases, they seem like groups of warriors, with the GPK's being more mercs while the Darcozzi being more guardsmen. But either way, not paladins, at least as I would see "paladins".
As for the Bleak Walkers, I can see them as paladins, almost certainly evil, though it's hard to see a binding ideology. Their description seems to describe more of means to their ideology than an ideology itself. But I have no idea what the ideology their brutal and merciless nature exists to support.
This leaves the Kind Wayfarers and the Shieldbearers. I can see these two as old school paladins of roughly similar flavor. Protectors of the innocent, etc., etc., etc.
Maybe what's really missing, at least for me, are ties to Eora's deities, since tying an order to a specific deity would pretty much define an order's philosophy. If an order was linked to Magran, a paladin would be a champion of the goddess of war and fire, and so forth, for example.
Anyways, looking at the paladin orders from an talent perspective, it seems to me that they're all relative weak and unappealing. The only talent that seems at all potent is Pallegina's Wrath of the Five Suns talent. It seems to me that other than the Faith and Conviction dispositions, the 5 playable orders are all rather generic in their abilities because their talents are so lame. Oh, sure, you've got to work your dispositions during your game play, and that's a good thing. But in terms of abilities, all paladins seem like they're pretty much the same in combat.
It would be nice if there was more differentiation between the orders in terms of what they bring to combat. It might also be nice if each order had specific requirements or strongly favored attributes that related to that order's special skills, talents, and/or abilities, so that paladins of different orders didn't have so much of a sameness about them.
On PoTD Inspiring Liberation is GREAT. + 10 Accuracy thay stacks with everything that last at a base line of 20 seconds with 10 INT is awesome in dragon fights. Helping CC land reliably. But you don’t like Darcozzi
Darcozzi are a Kingsguard like in Game of Thrones. I like it.
I used to be old school like you about Paladins but I like the take on them in this game. You don’t have to follow a god to be zealous about something. And I like the leader concept better than the D and D version But to each his own of course. I bet you were jealous of those Berathian Paladins in Raedrics Keep!
A. I don't do POTD.
B. Never watched Game of Thrones. Heck, I don't think that I've even had cable in more than 10 years. Just wasn't worth the ridiculously high price IMO. And on principle, I hate channel bundling, which is another reason I refuse to get cable.
C. I don't see zealotry as a legitimate source of power for a paladin's abilities. To me, a guardsman is nothing more than a fighter. I see paladins as requiring a tie to a deity because it's only through that deity that they get their power, their divine abilities.
D. I don't like the leader concept because if you have a group of paladins, like those Berathian Paladins, they can't ALL be leaders. Too many chiefs, not enough indians. But when you're talking about holy warriors, well, you avoid that problem. or if the term "holy warrior" doesn't work for you, think instead of them as "champions" (of their deity). A champion is still a holy warrior of sorts, though not necessarily a zealot in the colloquial sense. They may be leaders, but not necessarily so. They'd be warriors chosen and blessed by their deity to be one of that deity's chosen champions in this world (Eora, in this case).
(FYI, I'm thinking of David Weber's War God series, where the primary character, Bahzell Bahnakson, is a Champion of the god of war and justice, Tomanak. He's no zealot by any stretch of the imagination. Arguably, he's not even all that "holy" a warrior. He's certainly not religious. He doesn't really see Tomanak as a god to be worshiped. He tends to see Tomanak as being more like his really, REALLY super powerful boss, in whose name Bahzell fights. And that's OK with Tomanak because he wants Bahzell to be exactly who he is, not some boot-licking toady.)
Frankly, I think that all of the abilities we see in the game could be easily enough explained without needing this leader foolishness. In a very real sense, the abilities we see paladins get in PoE aren't all that different from those Paladins got in D&D, at least in the IE D&D games. They're just not bundled up as "spells". But they still do similar kinds of things. Help companions. Hurt enemies. That sort of thing.
I wish that the devs had done more to create a lot more differentiation between the paladin orders, because right now, there seems be very little differentiation, except for how you have to role play a pally PC relative to your order's F+C dispositions.