Paragon – The Latest and Greatest MOBA or Just a Fad?

MOBAs, MOBAs are funny games aren’t’ they?  If you don’t know what a MOBA is, it stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. It’s a game type that has spawned only in the past few years but has gained incredible popularity and at times, notoriety due to the toxicity of players which seem to have been attracted to the game type.  These games give you the choice of which ‘hero’ to take into battle, equipped with a varying range of skills and abilities and which are designed to either support your team, dish out the damage or a range of other intended uses or a combination of these.

The undisputed king of MOBAs is a game you more than likely will have heard of, as long as you haven’t been living under a rock for the past five years, League of Legends. League has gone on to be a big name in the world of E-sports, attracting a vast following of gamers young and old to the MOBA ranks. A lot of games are now beginning to cash in on this explosion of gamers, who are now starting to look at the next big game.

One of the newest games trying to gain a slice of the MOBA pie is Paragon. A third person offering from Epic Games, the company behind games such as Gears of War and Unreal Tournament so a company with a vast amount of experience and expertise in creating engaging and entertaining games. With this being their first attempt at a MOBA however, they are learning some hard lessons as the weeks go by.

Pitting you in the shoes of one of thirty heroes, you are tasked with destroying a number of enemy towers which are attempting to prevent you in destroying the heart of the enemy – the enemy core. Destroying this gives your team the victory which provides you with experience in levelling up your account and your hero separately and also bragging rights that you are an unstoppable force in games!

This nicely leads me on to the heroes of the game, the characters that you can choose to play each equipped with their own skills, strengths, abilities and weaknesses. The roster currently stands at thirty which is a good number of varied characters, ranging from melee fighters and tanks to magic wielding casters and gun or bow using rangers. For a team to succeed, the team needs to have a nice balance between the heroes as each either attacks with physical damage or magical damage which is a standard in the MOBA world. Building a varied team means the enemy will struggle to counteract your teams make up, which should give an edge during the game.

The game also uses a card system to customise and build your heroes in game. Cards are unlocked through weekly challenges, tribute chests or can be purchased with reputation – the games currency earned through playing. With several different varieties of cards, each designed to build a character a certain way, this gives a huge amount of customisation options to the player, allowing you to build the hero exactly how you want to.

Graphically, this is probably without a doubt the best looking MOBA to date. MOBAs like League and SMITE are not graphically inferior games and they have their own charms about them but Epic Games have obviously spent a vastly lengthy amount of time in making sure the graphics for Paragon are second to none. The lighting effects are beautiful and bring the world to life and the details on the characters, minions and other in game objects are just as nice to look at. Sometimes I find myself just stopping mid game to have a look around and take in the scenery before remembering I have a job to do and continuing on my rampage!

The developers have spent a long time balancing this game as well, as no character feels over or under powered which is a challenge for developers of MOBA games, especially when introducing new characters to the roster, which they have promised and have so far delivered on #Every3Weeks (their catchphrase hash tag they are promoting). This is another testament to the commitment of the team behind Paragon and is a good sign that this game is going to last and be a worthy competitor to League of Legends and other titles.

The games replay value is also a stand out point that needs to be highlighted here. The game with its varied range of characters and strategies you can employ using different card builds for characters, gives the game a nice replay value, always inviting you to try and play your hero even better or to build their cards just that bit better than last time.

As with many other games not everything is peaches and rainbows though. Currently, the game is struggling with very high average match times and has done since launch. The average at the moment has been stated to be 38 minutes but I for one have played games lasting longer than double that figure. This does make it difficult sometimes in knowing if you have time for a game before that next meeting you’re going to or the next chore you’ve been ordered to do by the wife, as games can last as little as fifteen to twenty minutes to almost an hour and a half, dependant on how well your team is playing and the enemy team is playing. The game can also sometimes end in a stalemate which can last for extended periods of time, where both teams have destroyed towers and are at the final point of the game in destroying the core but neither team gain that critical edge over the enemy.

The developers are attempting to fix this issue by implementing a range of patches in the past few weeks, some of which are not so welcome. The team have decided to reduce tower health, minion health and increase damage in order to reduce down the time of matches. With their aim being to drop the average time down another seven minutes to thirty one minutes, this is their attempt at doing that but with the significant changes the developers are risking changing the game to the point where people will no longer see any difference between this or League of Legends.

All in all, personally I think the game will succeed and the longevity of it will be so that it will be a worthy competitor for a vast stake of the MOBA market, perhaps even making an appearance on the E-Sports stages in the future. If the developers manage to find the perfect balance between match times and having a game different to other MOBA titles, I believe this will be a title which will easily face the challenges of time and will come out the other side still being a strong and worthy title to play.

Jason Patrick

Atari ST, PC & PS4 Pro gamer, Father and Rock legend. Can normally be found lost somewhere in Bolivia during his spare time! PSN: Psycho_sparky

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