We take a deeper look Epic Games’ first foray into the MOBA genre…
Throughout November, Epic Games kept teasing characters for a new game called Paragon, but at the Playstation Experience event, Epic finally revealed the game in all of its glory: A third-person shooter/MOBA-hybrid that looks just as impressive as you would expect from the company that brought us Unreal and Gears of War. But for all that was revealed in last weekend’s trailer, there’s still a lot we don’t know. So far, this is what we think we can expect from Epic’s Paragon.
Epic has only shown off one level, and it’s the typical three-lane MOBA design. The art direction is gorgeous and bright, exactly what you would expect from Epic working in their own Unreal Engine 4. (Don’t forget, the company basically showed everyone just how much graphical potential was in the last generation of consoles when it released Gears of War.) The green grass and blue skies are surrounded by large, high-tech buildings, so it’s unclear if the game takes place on Earth at some point in the future or an alien planet with a similar climate, perhaps like Bulletstorm, one of Epic’s previous games.
Given the abundance of non-human characters and mechs in the trailer, either option is a distinct possibility. Obviously, expect a lot more levels to be added to the game before release, and hopefully they’ll mix up the settings a bit more besides just the grass and rock shown in the debut trailer.
From just one minute of gameplay, Paragon looks like it’s going be a lot more action-packed than your typical MOBA like League of Legends. Well, maybe “action packed” isn’t fair, but maybe more immediate action that even someone who isn’t too familiar with MOBAs can understand.
It looks like the game is played from a behind-the-shoulder view rather than a top-down perspective, and the characters have access to a lot of guns and explosives, plus the occasional special melee attack that can clear out quite a few enemies at once (just like other MOBAs, it looks like special abilities layered on top of standard attacks will be a major point of gameplay).
Because of the heavier focus on action, the game seems to focus much more on vertical combat than other MOBAs, which should make it more accessible to fans of third and first-person shooters. The attempt to make a top-down genre more appealing to a wider audience by adding a third-person camera and real-time shooting is someone reminiscent of Nintendo’s recent strategy RPG Code Name S.T.E.A.M.
MOBAs are notoriously dense and hard for new players to learn, but Epic could be working around that by merging gameplay styles. The trick is not to loose strategic complexity – one of the biggest reasons League of Legends and DOTA 2 have skyrocketed in popularity is that the very things that make them hard to learn are rewarding to players who take the time to learn every mechanic.
The longevity of any MOBA game is largely dependent on its heroes. Players need to be able to find an avatar that suits their play-style, but the game has to retain overall balance between different characters and enough variety to keep matches fresh over the long haul.
So far, Paragon looks like it will definitely have something for everyone. The reveal trailer shows off some sort of large blue rhino-like character named Steel that appears to be your typical heavy character with powerful melee attacks. There’s also a fairly typical male space marine named Twinblast, who bears more than a little bit of a resemblance to characters from Epic’s Gears of War games. A character in a mech makes an appearance, raining missiles down on Steel in the trailer, though it’s unclear if the mech is a character or something you can pick up in the heat of battle.
The announcement trailer also showed off a woman with a bow named Sparrow, and a cyborg character who appears to rely on stealth attacks. Finally, there’s a nasty monster character with a big hammer named Grux who we haven’t seen in action yet. If the game can stay balanced with that many different heroes in play, Epic could have a game that’s heavily played for years to come on its hands.
Free to Play?
Epic has announced that Paragon will be coming to the Playstation 4 and PC in 2016 with paid early access to the game in the first half of the year and an open beta in the summer. What Epic hasn’t addressed, however, is how the final version Paragon will be released.
The most popular MOBAs, such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Smite, are all free to play, with real-world money being used to purchase additional characters, skins, and boosts. Given how well this model has worked for those games, it’s likely Epic will follow suit and make Paragon free-to-play. It’s almost guaranteed that the game will only be available for download on PC, like pretty much every PC game released in the past few years, though a paid physical PS4 release that includes a download code for a good chunk of premium content could also be in the cards.
Epic’s teases about Paragon over the past month didn’t receive a ton of attention in the gaming press, most of whom likely figured it was just another shooter, but what Epic has unveiled is intriguing and definitely a game to watch in 2016.
Are you excited