The Monolith Update for Paragon is great. It’s a massive step in the right direction and has made the game much better. Characters move much faster, the jungle has a clear purpose and routes, and overall the game plays ten times better than it did when it first went into open beta. The Epic Games’ foray into the MOBA genre also remains the most graphically stunning game in the genre, and now that the update has made the game playable it may see a rise in popularity and growth.
However, it’s still quite difficult for a veteran player of MOBAs like SMITE and LoL to recommend Paragon. Even after the update it’s still one of the worst MOBA experiences currently available and gives players no reason whatsoever to switch from their current MOBA of choice.
Paragon still feels like it’s meant to be Baby’s First MOBA, like how you’d recommend Runescape to someone who has never played an MMORPG before. Being easily accessible and a stepping stone to more complex games within the same genre isn’t a bad thing. In fact it’s something the MOBA genre could definitely benefit from considering how high the learning curve can be. Unfortunately, Paragon’s new player experience is so poor that it’s hard to justify recommending the game even to genre newcomers.
The Cards are Still a Bad Idea
The card system is at the crux of the matter. It replaces the item system traditional MOBAs have with an unnecessarily complex deck building and card collection mechanic. The entire system feels very out of place and like some old out-of-touch board member forced the developers to put in cards because, “Cards are hip right now. Kids love cards!”
In addition to overall balance issues, which every MOBA has, Epic has added a Haves VS Have-Nots problem that’s only going to wind up biting the devs in the ass. It forces new players to either have to grind gimped for an insane amount of time or drop a ton of real money into the game to collect enough cards to build a nice deck.
This issue is somewhat tempered by the fact that the stats you receive from cards don’t make a massive difference, but that begs the question of why they’re in the game to begin with. The cards do a piss-poor job of replacing the equipment/items mechanic that is a staple off the genre and ultimately serve as a greedy cash grab function that’s going to turn more veteran fans and newcomers of the genre away than it will attract.
The Mute Leading the Deaf
Being one of the first MOBAs built from the ground up for a console, you’d think Epic would try to utilize common console-based multiplayer communication systems to allow gamers to team up and coordinate smoothly, but they don’t. It should’ve been the first MOBA to have native voice chat enabled and, while they claim the feature is in the works, it still doesn’t exist. Epic apparently can’t even be bothered to put in a voice guided system like SMITE, they’re main competitor!
Add to the communication issues a player base largely consisting of people who’ve never played a MOBA before and you end up with a bunch of players running around the map dazed and confused half the time like ADHD children stuck in an ultra-stimulating maze full of their favorite things. And there’s little to no way for veteran players to communicate or coordinate effectively with their teammates, especially on the PS4.
A Long Road Ahead
While the patch has done a lot to improve the game, Paragon still has a long way to go before it can be considered on par with the likes of LoL, Dota 2 or SMITE. Frankly, it’ll be surprising if the game is ever on par with the giants in the genre, either from a popularity or playability standpoint. If it were an indie dev team at the wheel the game would soon-to-be DOA but, luckily for Paragon fans, Epic clearly has the stubbornness and resources to turn the game into an eventual smash hit.
If nothing else, it’ll at least be interesting to see where Paragon goes from here.