Shown off at PlayStation Experience, we finally got our first taste of Paragon, the new game coming from Unreal Tournament and Gears of War dev Epic. Coming to PS4 and PC, Paragon is a bit of a departure form the norm for the studio as it is a fully-fledged, unashamed MOBA.
Speaking with GameSpot, Executive Producer on the game, John Wasilczyk, explained why the developer decided to try something new, and just how Paragon will manage to stand out from the crowded pack of MOBAs hoping to hit eSports gold.
When looking forward for what to do next, “We had the opportunity to make anything,” Wasilczyk explained. “It’s incredibly rare in that regard… Turns out we have a lot of guys on the team who either love MOBAs and have for quite some time, or over the course of making this game, have grown to know and love them.”
What makes Paragon unique however, is “We have a good mix of action gamers and a lot of people who are really passionate about MOBAs on the team. So for us, it was taking the unique MOBA elements that we found to be really unique and really enjoyable and putting our spin on it. A lot of it is leveraging what Epic has done for so long, which is make action games.”
Though MOBAs are generally pretty set in stone, with a specific set of gameplay restrictions, and usually confined to a top-down isometric perspective, Wasilczyk said the team was interested in doing something that hasn’t been done much before, turning that formula into a third-person action game.
“One of the things we talked about internally was taking the things you see in MOBA trailers and cinematics, including our own, and making it part of the gameplay experience. It’s what we were trying to convey with our gameplay trailer, showing the verticality of it where people can leap over you and you’re going to have to actually target them in 3D to shoot them out of the sky.”
As for what that means for the game, “You need to aim your shots and take into account the fact that someone could be above or below you… Creating those stories and having those types of interactions is really important to us.”
One of the problems for MOBAs has been the continued barrier to entry around simply understanding what is going on. This is something Wasilczyk hopes the more action game leanings of Paragon will help. “The skills people have from those other games will transfer over really nicely. And the use of things like projectiles makes a number of the interactions between characters a lot more intuitive.
“When you get hit by a giant boulder you understand that it damages you. And there’s been a big focus for our art team and our design team in trying to keep the experience beautiful, but have it be something that you can watch and understand… [If] it was just particle soup, you wouldn’t be able to tell what was going on. Also, having that physicality between characters and their interactions, we think it’s like watching a baseball player make a diving catch. You understand those interactions between things. When it’s top down you lose a bit of that.”
Despite those changes however, Paragon is still definitely a MOBA. “It does have core MOBA tropes. It has three lanes, it has towers, it has minions. However, we’ve made it a little different to adapt it to the 3D space and also keep it as something that’s really easy to watch.
“It’s a very open map. The map is sort of shaped like a bowl, so your spawn points are higher up and when you spawn in you can immediately look out across the map, look at the lanes, see where your teammates are, and figure out what you’re going to do.
“Beyond that, the lanes themselves are arranged in a high-mid-low layout as far as verticality goes. From the top lane, you can look down to the middle which then looks down to the lowest lane, so you can see people across the way interacting with one another.”
Wasilczyk goes on to explain how even the jungle, the space in between the main lanes, has been crafted to work with third person mechanics, a canopy of trees actually blocking view of what is happening within.
When it comes to the how Paragon will stack up with other MOBAs in terms of monetization, he explained, “We’re not going into too much detail about the monetization yet. What I can say is, yes, we’re going to have many of the things that you see in other MOBAs, where you’ll be able to buy characters.
“One of the things that’s really important with what Epic is trying to do is be really generous and respectful of the player. You can earn the things that affect gameplay and it will always be something you can do by playing the game.”
What sets Paragon apart the most however is the fact it is also coming to PS4. “For us, we’re excited about the PlayStation 4. Sony’s been a great partner to us. They were really excited about having a game like this on their platform.”
Epic is even bringing cross-play to the game. “It’s the same experience on PC and PlayStation 4. We have an entire competitive QA team who we pulled from the community. They’re hardcore players of this genre, action games, and everything in between. We have them playing every configuration: console, PC, and against each other…
“Another thing we’re really proud of is being able to allow cross-progression. You’ll be able to carry all of the things that you’ve earned on PC over to the PlayStation 4 and vice-versa. There’s no limit on it, allowing you to take it back and forth. It gives people flexibility to play wherever they want.”
And finally, Wasilczyk also took the chance to touch on the ever-present eSports question. With games like League of Legends and Dota 2 managing to become eSports phenomenons, a lot of MOBAs seem interested to finding a bit of that limelight as well. But Wasilczyk was candid about the team’s expectations. “As far as eSports goes, it’s something that we leave entirely up to the players and the community. We think it’s really important that they’re the people who decide if and when we ever become an eSport.
“What we’re really focused on is making a great game that we hope the players will agree is fun. We’ll give them these awesome tools to share moments, remember the cool things they’ve done, and educate each other. If an eSports experience comes out of it, that’s awesome. Otherwise, we’re going to be focused on making a great game.”
Sign ups are already available for the Paragon’s beta over on the game’s website, with the full game expected to release for PS4 and PC sometime in 2016. What do you think of Paragon so far? Let us know in the comments.