When Epic Games announced its intention to release a new MOBA – in 2016, no less, it had me a bit baffled. I thought to myself, “Epic must have something crazy up its sleeve for Paragon.” Nope. Paragon is about as generic as its name, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any fun to be had in it.
In a world full of nu-MOBAs like Paladins, Overwatch, and Battleborn, Paragon is decidedly a bit more “old school”. Here, you’ll find your standard three-lane MOBA map, a jungle, last hitting, and so on. It’s got most of the classic MOBA trappings down pat. The key difference is that it plays a bit like a third person shooter, similar to SMITE, but with more emphasis on the action combat. There’s also some verticality to the maps and gameplay that definitely add a lot to the game’s otherwise straightforward MOBA formula.
Another thing Paragon does is co-opt the prevailing trend of adding some sort of deckbuilding and card system to games. Instead of buying items, you’ll put together a deck of cards (items, essentially) to take into a match and then you’ll equip and upgrade those cards using currency you acquire during the match. It’s a promising mechanic, but I haven’t spent enough time with it to really explore all the possibilities.
Visually, Paragon is fairly unremarkable. The characters and world fit the generic sci-fi fantasy look we’re used to seeing in Epic’s Unreal Tournament series. Visual fidelity is high, sure, the game is built in Unreal Engine 4 after all, but it’s truly devoid of any notable style.
Despite the bland visual design and derivative gameplay, I still had some fun during my time playing it. Don’t get me wrong, Paragon isn’t terrible; it’s just not very interesting. I’m a fan of the action gameplay, the abilities are fun to use and have some great particle effects, and I enjoy the verticality, but I just can’t help wonder why anyone would launch a game like this in 2016.
The deluge of MOBAs released since League of Legends achieved critical mass seems to have finally abated over the last year or two and only a couple of games (Heroes of the Storm, DOTA2, and SMITE) have earned the right to stand atop the pile of corpses of MOBAs launched and shut down. The players in those communities are fairly entrenched at this point, which is why most studios looking to release something MOBA-like are mixing things up with games like Overwatch or Paladins.
Paragon falls somewhere in between the newer generation and the old guard. If you’re looking for a third person shooter/MOBA hybrid that doesn’t stray as far from its roots as the newer crop of games, you’ll want to keep an eye on Paragon, as it’s slated for launch on PC and PS4 later this year. Of course, if you’re impatient, you can pick up a Founder’s Pack right now and jump into the game’s Early Access season.