It happened to me! I had fun playing Paragon

New game from Epic is alright

Epic Games (Gears of War) announced Paragon (PS4, PC) at PlayStation Experience, an in-tight, third-person MOBA from the developer of seminal shooters like Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. Yes, everything is a MOBA these days.

For me that’s usually a cue to glaze my eyes over with a special goop my eyes have started secreting at will over the past five years. I played League of Legends once, the weekend it released almost seven years ago (want to feel old!?). Not really my eye-jam.

But the MOBA is a tricksy scamp and as Johnny-come-latelies try to get into the game dominated by League and Dota 2, they often have to do so on the strength of an existing brand or by way of a special hook — in Paragon‘s instance, high graphical fidelity and gameplay that feels a bit closer to an objective-based shooter, or at least tricks you into thinking so with the close camera angle. Also I played every match as an archer, so, there’s that.

The result: I do not like MOBAs, but I had a good time playing Paragon.

Feeling much more comfortable with the idea of third-person shooter than a MOBA, I elected to go with a ranged character, Sparrow, whom happened to be one of the plain strongest characters in the game. This will be important later. On the ranged, damage-dealing side, there’s also the faster, somewhat weaker, dual-wielding Twin Blast and the sniper Murdock, who does energy damage rather than physical like Sparrow.

The latter is important because there is a card deck system tied to your character’s performance ceiling. You can build your own deck, though we played using pre-made starter decks which were made to buff your character in the most typical way — for Sparrow, that meant slowly increasing things like physical damage and rate of fire as you level up (in addition to unlocking or upgrading your moves by way of earned experience). Cards can only be assigned, trashed, or otherwise dealt with at base and there’s a button to teleport back to base (it takes a few seconds of vulnerability), which is useful for various reasons.

Once I stopped getting shot up by laser beams in enemy-controlled towers (they’re dotted along the map and the goal is to push forward across three lanes towards your opponents’ base, which you want to destroy) and kind of figured basic MOBA-things out, I became an absolute wrecking machine with Sparrow, driving entire lanes by myself and doubling the next highest player’s kill count. 16 and 5 like nothing. Warning: it might be that I had fun with Paragon because, in the controlled environment with other press and developers, I was really good. Completely unearned, too, which is great. Now I know what it feels like to be born wealthy. And it probably won’t be like that in a live, global environment (where teamwork and cooperation will be way more important). But man I kicked ass.

Paragon is a MOBA your average idiot (like me) can pick up, which is good because it’s coming to PS4, too. It works fairly well with a controller, though going at it after getting comfy with the mouse and keyboard, I preferred the latter. Especially for that ranged accuracy. Paragon also aims to have “the most advanced replay system on the market” for spectating and sharing purposes, with information-laden UI elements, various cameras (following one “Hero,” or a free-flying drone), and slow/fast motion. You can even sort through the full recording of a match by instances of kills, tower failure, or high damage — it tells you where the highlights are, basically.

It’d probably take the right circumstances to get me on Paragon again (for instance: it being my job to do so), but I had fun over the three or four matches I played. There are 13 characters to choose from and the 1 map at the moment, while adequate controller support and high-fidelity mean it could boost its success on the console front.

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Steven Hansen
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