A Few Hours With Paragon, Epic's Crack At Making A MOBA

A Few Hours With Paragon, Epic's Crack At Making A MOBA

Paragon is a game that's had an eventful pre-life. Its first stabs at marketing were remarkably unclear, and it has the dubious honour of blocking a guy named Muhammad Khan because of a government block list mix-up. The game itself? Less remarkable, so far. Paragon is, to put it simply, a big ol' MOBA stew. Perspective-wise, it's most like SMITE with its pulled-in camera and action-game-inspired mechanics, but it also draws on DOTA 2 (general complexity, last-hitting), League of Legends (a big jungle) and Heroes of the Storm (team-oriented mechanics) to name a few. It's also got a broth of genre comfort food: slow-moving creeps, a mult-tiered laning phase, matches that usually run for 30-45 mins and a host of familiar heroes.

Here's what it looks like:

And here are some quick thoughts based on my time with Paragon during a recent preview event in San Francisco. Bear in mind that I'm not super experienced with MOBAs (I've played The Big Three a little in various phases, but never enough to get good), so these are neither outsider nor insider impressions. I'm a betweener, I guess. That word sounds weird.

  • Paragon's approach to lanes is super cool. There's pronounced elevation differences between the lanes, so you can, for instance, physically glance down into the jungle. Or at least, the parts you can see. Hidden paths and all sorts of natural/supernatural flora and fauna allow you to disguise manoeuvres and take opponents by surprise. They make hero fights exciting on a moment-to-moment level, challenging players to draw on an immediate awareness that might not be as necessary in top-down MOBAs.
  • There's a card system. Essentially, you end up deciding which items will end up in your mid-match item store by building a persistent deck. While playing as the hulking, squid-bearded Rampage, I assembled a deck to make to accentuate his tanking qualities, ultimately making his health bar so huge that it could nearly be seen from space. Then I leaped between lanes (Rampage is at his best when he's jumping sky-high and physically crashing people's parties) and turned the tide of multiple skirmishes. Epic's hope is that people begin to build decks to counter each other's decks, forming an ever-evolving meta. Also, while they haven't said what elements of Paragon they're gonna charge real money for yet, Epic have reached out to say that they will "never" sell card packs. That is, come to think of it, probably for the best.
A Few Hours With Paragon, Epic's Crack At Making A MOBA
  • It doesn't feel amazing. I mean, the game's overall feel is fine, but movement is kinda floaty and hits lack weight and tangibility. While I was playing this struck me as odd, given that Epic is the company behind games like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. Remember the first time you gibbed somebody in Unreal? Remember how heavy you felt while roady running in Gears? Oh, and then there was that whole thing with the chainsaw gun. Taken on its own merits, Paragon feels functional, but there was an opportunity to introduce some of that Epic tangibility to MOBA combat and movement, and it's not really here.
  • The characters are... fine. I spent most of my time with Paragon as two vastly different heroes, Rampage and Twinblast. Rampage was a meaty hands-on tank type, and Twinblast was all about evasion, firing away with his two pistols and looking like Nathan Drake from Uncharted. Both were fun enough to play as, but they didn't have much going for them in the novelty or personality departments. Most characters I played against seemed that way. They fit traditional MOBA roles and, to Epic's credit, didn't feel overpowered or shoehorned-in. But none of them really excited me either. They just kinda... were.

The short version? I had fun with Paragon. It was a decent time. Team fights got people hollering, and big pushes were thrilling. Tides turned, creeps got mowed down like unruly weeds and heroes either evolved over time or fell into hungry pits of obsolescence. Paragon checked all the MOBA boxes. I'm just not sure if it has any tricks up its sleeve it can truly call its own.


Comments

    Watched a YouYube review just before finding this article....Paragon looks pretty forgettable as it is. Slow, dull combat and not much going for it really. Smite looked more fun even when it was in early closed beta.

    I get that Paragon is in early development but if what we've seen isn't representative of where they're going then they shouldn't have opened up to reviews.

    Doesn't add much to the MOBA scene and looks boring. The one thing I like is the different height levels with lanes etc. Would be cool to see a 1st or 3rd person MOBA that added a critical vertical aspect to the game.

      Yeah the gameplay looks ridiculously slooooooooooow. Especially coming from Epic. Fast paced with tons of verticality? That could be interesting.

        Like Monday Night Combat perhaps

          Man, I totally forgot about that game. Didn't even realize they made a sequel.

            Yeah it was obviously years ahead of its time! I'm happy you can play it on Xbone now but I really wish they'd bring the sequel to consoles

      I was hoping that with the graphics + combat of the game, that they would go more of a HotS way of 'moba' where it's more an arena team-fighter, then your typical MOBA that can take up to an hour to complete a match - aint nobody got time for that.

      The reason I gravitated to HotS is because the games are shorter, you focus on abilities other than a shop where you can get lost in items, and the flow is just faster - wouldn't that sort of speed compliment the 3rd person combat that's reticle based? But I guess that's just it, you can't cater to everyone, so my style losers out to the more popular moba style - oh well.

      BUT I got into the alpha/beta, so I'll be able to try it for myself and make a bit more of an informed decision.

        I agree, the only MOBA I've ever really gotten into and enjoyed was Smite. My main issue with it was the time commitment per match. Needing to ensure I can have 40 minutes uninterrupted to play a game...fairly rare occurrence for me these days. Even when playing fps games Like CS:GO I still get a chance to respond to others IRL when I die, between rounds etc.

        40+ mins of solid, focused gameplay - don't have time for that!

      I think if Overwatch introduced a map that played like a MOBA it would kill this game off before it even starts.

        I'm still surprised that CoD doesn't have a MOBA style multiplayer mode...I'd actually but it if it did.

    a little unrelated.

    Did anyone get a beta invite to gigantic?
    I finished the training maps and have yet to play with anyone as matchmaking seems to take so long... never ended up finding a game after 30 mins

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