The MOBA genre has been flooded over the past few years to the point where some developers actively shy away from using the term to describe their games. Former Gears of War studio Epic Games is instead embracing it, with the notion that it has plenty to add to the crowded genre.
One problem that MOBAs have for some players is that while the concept is usually intriguing, the gameplay can struggle to reach that same level. According to Paragon's executive producer John Wasilczyk, Epic's track record shows that it can overcome that obstacle. "There are so many people on the project who love MOBAs," he says. "They love gameplay that they provide, the choices, the options, and how each different hero is its own little toy box – kind of a unique game in themselves. But we're action gamers. It's what the studio does, it's what a lot of people on the team love playing. That was something we really wanted to bring to the MOBA experience with Paragon."
Epic hopes to make it so Paragon plays more like a third-person action game than a traditional MOBA, something that Wasilczyk thinks is instrumental to making Paragon a stronger experience. "A big part of it is taking those moments that you hear about in MOBAs, but the game doesn't necessarily play that way when it's just a top-down experience – for us having it on the battlefield is what's going to make it just a beautiful melding of the action game that brings those moments that you see in MOBA trailers to life," he says.
Even though that approach is rarer in the genre, Paragon is not the first one to use the third-person perspective with the camera on the battlefield with the characters. According to Wasilczyk, the characters themselves, as well as their abilities, also play a huge role in making Paragon feel more unique. "One of the exciting things with Paragon is having fully three dimensional gameplay," Wasilczyk says. "You see it a little bit in our gameplay trailer when one of the characters is bursting up in the air. You have that happen with a lot of different characters – they have a lot of mobility skills that will put them up and down depending on where you are in the map. You have that moment that was very much a core piece of an action game. You're going to have a guy rocking over your head and you're going to try to blast him out of the air. We have characters with a lot of projectile abilities; that was something where it was beautiful to watch with our replay system and a lot of fun within the match. There is a guy who could pick up a giant boulder and toss it at you and you have those awesome near-misses where you'll see it swoosh over your head when you're running down a lane. That type of verticality makes for a more pure action experience."
Though Epic hasn't settled on a solid number of playable characters for Paragon, Wasilczyk says that the studio will follow an aggressive plan when it comes to rolling out new heroes. In true MOBA fashion, players will be able to level characters throughout the course of the matches, in addition to a card system that allows players to make different choices for the direction they want to develop their character that is similar to item systems found in other MOBAs. Unlike those systems, though, you can see how your opponents are building their decks up and change your hand of cards on the fly and adapt your strategies to different developing situations as you level your character.
Paragon will be free-to-play and will launch as a paid early access game on PlayStation 4 and PC in spring 2016, with a free open beta hitting in summer 2016.