League of Legends. Dota 2. Heroes of the Storm. Smite. Strife and now a new MOBA known as Paragon.
In our current gaming climate, the market is saturated with MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), with each vying to get their own slice of the pie. That’s to be expected as League of Legends is commonly attributed to the rise of mainstream gaming and eSports culture.
Announced last year in November, Epic Games has decided to try their hand at this market, with a third person MOBA game called Paragon. It wouldn’t be the first 3rd person MOBA game released, so what hope does Paragon have in distinguishing itself from the many other like-minded MOBA games?
Most known for the Unreal Tournament and Gears of Wars series, Epic Games’ the Paragon MOBA takes place in a beautiful battleground known as Agora. Complete with three lanes, 5 on 5 hero action with minions and towers, on a basic level Paragon does not deviate much from the standard formula, and veterans of the genre should have no trouble dipping their feet in here.
However, beyond the simple goal of attacking a lane and destroying the enemy core, Paragon approaches certain gameplay mechanics in a different light. For example, unlike League of Legends, Paragon plans to have all heroes available and free to play, the only restriction being some locked heroes until you have reached a higher level of experience with the game.
Gameplay in Paragon is a treat, combining fast-paced action with a beautiful environment that although retains the standard MOBA layout, feels unique and fresh. The lanes are wide and long, allowing you to spot an enemy far before they show up on your map. Conversely, the jungle area between lanes are narrow and claustrophobic, making it very easy to bump into an enemy after turning around a corner. Hero skills, for the most part, remain unchanged; each hero has three normal abilities and one ultimate ability at level 5. However, mana is quite limited for most heroes, and will force many players to think twice before using the abilities haphazardly, a far cry from League of Legends where it is the norm to constantly use an ability off cooldown. Speaking of abilities, there are no targeted skills in Paragon; everything is skill-shot based, meaning that you must aim your ability for them to land. Coupled with the fact that the game looks and plays great, this new MOBA does an excellent job of imbuing a sense of immersion; almost as if being thrown into the fray yourself, instead of simply watching your hero fight from above.
One of the more unique aspects of Paragon is how it forgoes the classic item shop. Instead, players outfit their heroes with equipment selected from a 40 card deck. These cards can be anywhere from health potions, items with stat bonuses, or stationary wards that grant vision of the Paragon maps. As players’ spend more time playing and gaining new cards from booster packs, they will be able to further customize their deck in order to tailor a hero’s card deck to their specific play style. Epic games also promise that cards will only be obtainable by playing the game, ensuring that there will be no aspect of pay to win in this regard.
Within the game, card points are essentially the measure of a hero’s wealth or income in Paragon; it is the numerical value of how many ‘cards’ your hero can equip, with some costing more than others. This is essentially the ‘gold’ of standard MOBAs, which can be gained by slaying enemy minions, destroying towers or taking down an enemy hero. Last-hitting (the act of delivering a final blow to a minion) is present in this game, but is less punishing compared to other games as minions that aren’t killed by a hero still drop a small amount of CP, allowing a hero to roam and gank other lanes without worrying about losing too much income as a tradeoff, as long as they return to collect it at some point.
Paragon’s hero roster is slim, with 14 different characters available at the time of writing. However, each hero is vastly unique and feels great to play. There are roles that should fit every kind of player, such as Casters, Fighters, Tanks, Assassins, and Rangers (which fulfill the typical Carry role in most other MOBAs). Epic Games has endeavored to release a new playable heroes every three weeks, so we should see this list fill out before long.
The game is currently in Early Access, meaning you can play the game now if you purchase a Founder’s Pack from their website, or you can wait for their Open Beta which plans to open during the summer. Despite being in Early Access, there weren’t any major game-breaking glitches that I’ve experienced, though there are currently placeholder models in the jungle, reminding you that this game is still in development and certain elements may be subject to change.
Regardless, Epic Games clearly puts their background in developing action games to use in Paragon, and it shows. The game ends up feeling like a mixture of a fast-paced shooter game, with the strategy and tactics from a standard MOBA game. It is not clear if Paragon is destined for success, but the fact that it is an exciting and excellent take on the MOBA genre is indisputable.
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