Last week, Epic Games invited GotGame and other members of the press to try out Paragon, their new MOBA title releasing for PS4 and PC. Even though it shares a lot of traits with other MOBA titles like League of Legends or Heroes of Storm, Epic seems like they want to take the five-on-five gameplay and make it accessible to all types of players out there, and with what we played, it seems like they’re right on track.
Playing with a third person view camera, Paragon feels very much like an action game, despite the familiar three-lane map setup and multiplayer focus that MOBA games tend to have. Given a pretty diverse cast of characters, a handful of side objectives, and a beautiful presentation, Paragon seems like it has what it takes to stand out. Despite those features, it’s actually the card-based system that will truly separate it from the rest, as players build decks of cards to bring into battle. These cards provide the items that most MOBAs would have players purchase at shops, and given that the decks can be customized, players can choose decks focused on high vitality, increased damage, or even balance it out to give all-around stats for their matches. It even provides health and mana potions that players can equip. Each card requires one to three card points to be spent, card points being gained as players gain experience in battle.
Like most MOBAs, Paragon relies on a strong cast of characters with unique class traits and abilities that give players someone to bond with. Once a player finds a character they’re comfortable with, they can choose to focus on that character by unlocking new skins, choosing cards based on the character, and truly mastering the character as their own. There’s a class for practically all player types, with the shooter type rangers, the hulking tanks, the powerful caster types, the deadly assassin, or the general fighter class. Each character has a basic attack, three normal skills, a passive ability, and an ultimate skill that can be gained once the character reaches level five (the max level being 15).
During my hands-on experience with some of the characters, I found the ranger class to be a good fit for me. For my first game, I chose Murdock, a space-marine type character with a powerful standard attack and a diverse skill set. Given these tools, it not only allowed me to obtain first blood, but also gain a large amount of kills and a strong push on the left lane of the map. it seemed like I was taking out minions and destroying towers with ease, and I even gained Murdock’s ultimate skill which allowed for a powerful charged shot that could go through walls, given a range that covered nearly half the map. My comfort with the character and my prowess on the field even gained some attention from the team at Epic Games, as they were rather impressed with how well I carried the team. We managed to obtain a quick victory, as my character was stacked with powerful items that added a great deal of damage to his attacks, allowing him to take down other characters with well aimed shots.
Even though I loved my first match with Murdock, I had to give a different class a try, so for the second game, I chose to enter the fray with Rampage, a tank that looked like a cross between Cthulhu and the Incredible Hulk . The skills that Rampage had were quite the contrast to Murdock, as he had one ranged attack with a boulder toss, stunning enemies if it made contact, and a jumping attack that could deal pretty decent damage with a well timed slam to the ground. Rampage’s ultimate skill allows him to “Hulk out” by growing larger, gaining a lot of health, and taking seemingly less damage. Even though I was hard to kill, I found that my contribution to the team wasn’t quite as strong this time around, and it showed as we lost this round.
Given that I had good luck with a ranger, I decided to go back to that class with a different character, giving Sparrow a try. Sparrow heavily reminds one of the character Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, given a bow and arrow, braided hair, and even a “Mockingjay” looking armor. Despite the comparisons to the character, she proved to be a powerful character in the right hands. Even though her offensive abilities weren’t too impressive, it was her passive ability that makes consecutive shots on a target deal more damage with each hit that really showed her worth. Combine this with her Invigorate buff, which increases her attack speed, and her ultimate skill that splits her basic attack into three shots, and she is a force to be reckoned with. She didn’t have quite the pushing ability that Murdock had, but she still did a lot of damage to our opponents and kept the enemy on their toes.
It’s really great to see that even though the game is really accessible, that player skill is rewarded with satisfying results. It pays to have good aim on opponents and it’s clearly noticeable when a player does something that really helps the team. Even when players do optional objectives, like going after the Prime Orb, it shows when the orb is delivered to it’s altar, giving the team an “OP buff”. The game can even be really interesting to watch, showing that Paragon could easily have a place in current eSports.
During my final game, I gave the assassin Kallari a shot. Kallari is actually a very advanced character, having incredibly low health and not a lot of attack options when up against an enemy player. What she lacks in stamina, she makes up for in skills that make her quite a tricky opponent. Kallari has the ability to turn invisible, entering the Shadow Plane and allowing for her to escape sticky situations. She also has a dagger throwing ability, which can deal quite a good chunk of damage if players manage to hit with it. It’s really Kallari’s ultimate skill though, the Death Sentence, that allows her to do some major damage on the field. Combining Death Sentence with her Shadow Plane ability, Kallari can target opposing players while invisible, striking with precision and dealing massive damage to an enemy, possibly killing them. If she gets the kill, her Shadow Plane ability actually resets the cooldown and allows her to go invisible right away, allowing for an easy escape. Even if she gets into a a situation where going invisible just isn’t enough, she has a great dodge ability that gives her an ability to double jump away from danger. This could get her out of an area of effect attack, or can even get her onto the high ground in certain areas, making it easy for her to avoid danger.
It truly seems like Paragon has a great amount of variety, and like most MOBAs, the team plans on adding new characters and tweaking things to balance the game out over time. With an easy to pick up control scheme on both PS4 and PC, cool characters, and a strong competitive spirit, it seems like Epic may have a hit on their hands. The real goal here is to add enough content to the game for the average gamer to be able to enjoy it without the need for multiplayer.