Hands-on: 30 minutes with new MOBA Paragon
Epic's upcoming MOBA is from early impressions a fun distraction that doesn't stray too far from the established formula.
Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games have become extremely popular amongst the gaming community. Games such as League of Legends and DOTA have garnered widespread critical and commercial success. This success can be attributed to their fun, deep and addictive gameplay, free to play model, and their popularity amongst the E-Sports community.
Read on for more first impressions.
15 minutes with Paragon
Epic Games, the developers of the Unreal Championship and Gears of War franchises, hope to be a part of this success with their new game Paragon. PlayStation Plus members have been given access to the open beta before it begins on August 16. With this early access, Epic have also provided a free Starter Pack that includes three Master Challenges for the heroes Gadget, Murdock, and Rampage.
Paragon does not stray too far from the established MOBA formula. Players select from a roster of heroes. Maps are predictably split into three lanes, and the overall goal is to annihilate the enemy base. Pretty standard MOBA fare in other words. Paragon does not try to revolutionise the genre and it doesn’t need to. Instead, adopting the MOBA formula in its entirety allows Epic to focus on creating a well-balanced and in-depth game while introducing some mechanics that will separate Paragon from the competition.
One of the biggest draws to any MOBA is its heroes, and Paragon has a diverse roster. Depending on which hero you choose, your gameplay experience can drastically change. Each hero has their own unique play style, skill set, and abilities that players will need to become familiar with in order to use that hero effectively. Some heroes have a high damage output but also have a slow fire rate. Others might have a low damage output but their abilities, once upgraded, can destroy enemies in one hit. Understanding how to play a specific hero, their strengths and weaknesses, and when to use their abilities in combat is a crucial part of Paragon.
There is a focus on creating a harmonious team that has heroes who compliment each other. Paragon has implemented a hero suggestion mechanic. At the hero select screen, team mates can suggest which hero other players should choose. This allows a team to create a strong hero line-up that works well together. Though this is an effective strategy and high-skilled players will want to achieve this team harmony, I found that picking a hero I liked and ignoring what my team mates chose worked out just fine.
One mechanic that can turn the tide of battle is the introduction of cards. Players create a deck of cards that can be customised depending on the hero they choose. Each card gives the player a variety of buffs and stat increases. These can be health potions that heal you when you are in trouble, or an increase in your damage output. Players that successfully defeat an enemy team’s hero - or farm enough minions - will level up and be able to equip more cards. Equipping the cards that best suit your hero can turn you into an unstoppable powerhouse. The card mechanic creates a severe consequence for death. Dying provides experience points for the hero that killed you, which means they can level up and equip more cards. This forces the player to play strategically and conservatively in order to avoid giving the enemy team a significant advantage.
While Paragon does not do too much to shake up the establish MOBA formula, it has enough alterations that make it a unique and fun experience at this early stage. It provides console owners with a genre of game that they may have never played. Overall, I have enjoyed my time with Paragon and am looking forward to getting my hands on the final release.
Paragon is scheduled for release later in 2016 and will be available on PC and PlayStation 4.