Fight or Kite: F2P MOBA Fault Elder Orb rises from the ashes of Epic Games’ Paragon


Just last week a new MOBA dropped on the free-to-play scene in the form of Fault: Elder Orb. It looked a little familiar, so I wasn’t sure if we’d seen it before, and as it turns out, it isn’t the first time it’s crossed our desks. In fact, this game was built using assets from the long lost Paragon. Apparently when Epic Games shut Paragon down, it did so by also releasing many of the assets for others to use – something that I actually admire and think should be done with any game shut down like that. So with those assets in hand, Strange Matter Studios went about building its own version of a third-person perspective MOBA.

While the game released as a free-to-play title last week, it’s actually been accessible as an early access game on Steam for a couple of years now as simply Fault. I suppose the orb was still a baby back then and not worth the mention. Now, I’ve never been huge on MOBAs of the League of Legends variety, largely because of the top-down view. While this certainly isn’t the first MOBA with a third-person perspective, it being a new game always gets my attention.

With that, let’s take a look at what Fault: Elder Orb brings to the PvP arena table. It’s a shame I never got around to playing Paragon, so I won’t be able to offer much in the way of comparisons – although sometimes a fresh outlook is what we all really need anyway. For those who do miss Paragon, though, hopefully this won’t turn out to be an Edgar the Bug situation with Fault: Elder Orb simply wearing its Paragon skin-suit completely unconvincingly.

Combat and gameplay are par for the course – a slow course

At a high level, the gameplay parallels the basics of the MOBA genre: 5v5 matchups with various lanes to attack and defend all while minions spawn regularly at camp and move forward. You also have the same League of Legends-esque lane setup with a carry, support, mid, offlane, and jungle lanes. Your heroes follow the typical skill configuration with four active abilities (one being your ultimate move) and a passive skill.

In addition to all those bits above, players are able to somewhat customize their heroes during a match. You’ll earn gold that can be used to buy items, most of which are simply passive buffs, but a few of them are activated. There are tons of items available to purchase during play too, but the key is that your hero will also level up, allowing you to improve your skills throughout the match. You’ll begin with only your basic attack but quickly level up and gain your other powers.

There appears to be only a single map in the game currently, which isn’t atypical in MOBAs. Players tend to rather have only a few maps to learn and memorize every square inch of so that they can take full advantage of it versus having multiple maps to learn. I suppose when your goal is very focused and the environment’s appearance doesn’t matter, then you’ll be happy with just a few maps – or one, in this case.

I’ve played so many different types of arena games, MMOs, and battle royales that I’ve become accustomed to having multiple game modes available rather than just a single one. I suppose it is a solid point to consider that a game should focus on its core competency and audience rather than spreading out into other areas that it isn’t as suited for. However, I’m just not used to it. I’ve whined and cried more than a few times about how much I think developers should do their best to try new things and expand their audience. In this case. though, I think it might make the most sense not to have so many game modes. A single one that knows exactly what it is trying to be might be best for it.

I’ve also explained how long matches don’t suit me. I don’t have the time, and I don’t have the patience. Each match here is looking at about 30 or so minutes, which again is completely in line with what players can expect (and apparently enjoy) about other MOBAs. But personally, I would just so much rather play three 10-minute matches or even two 15-minute ones than a single one in that time span. I guess I’m just in the minority on this one. There’s too many examples of games these days that focus heavily on longer matches. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment I need to go yell at these kids on my lawn.

Something that might go in tandem with longer matches is the speed of combat. To me the combat in Fault: Elder Orb just feels pretty slow. I get the whole idea of slower, more impactful combat leading to greater plays that are easier to watch; it’s one of the bigger complaints thrown at Guild Wars 2 PvP combat, for example. There, the combat is so fast, players can get burst down in a matter of seconds. But this feels like a snail’s pace. There must be a middle ground somewhere, right? Also, no dodges make me a sad boy.

No character creator here – just heroes and skins

I typically save a bit to discuss character customizations and a game’s monetization, so I want to throw that out here at the end. In Fault: Elder Orb, players choose set heroes to play as instead of classes with build opportunity. It’s always a letdown for an MMO player, but it’s what MOBAs typically do.

While there is a whole roster of different heroes to choose from, each with its own set of skills and general lane expectations, new players will have access to only seven of those characters. There are five base characters, one for each lane, and also two rotating characters. I couldn’t see how often they rotate, but appears to be less frequently than every day. Of course, with only a few true matches under my belt, I found it’s tough to make out whether the base heroes are inferior to the others or are simply different. It would seem that they are actually intended to be weaker, though, since the heroes are divided into tiers going up to T4 (the base ones being T1).

To unlock the other heroes players can put money into the cash shop and simply buy them. However, there is also a mechanic where lootboxes (some of which are earned by leveling) drop shards specific to a hero. Combine enough shards together that’ll unlock the hero, if I understand it right. Alternatively, you can combine three random shards to gain a random other shard. There’s a lot of maybes and randomness in the system, it seems.

Finally, you can buy different skins to customize how your hero looks. At a cursory glance, I’d say there’s about four or five skins per hero available. In addition to hero skins, you’ve got banner avatars and also emotes up for sale.

So that’s about everything there is to say about Fault: Elder Orb right now. While I might have sounded a bit dour about some of the gameplay, I have to admit I did continue to want to queue up for another match, so I must have been having fun. The downside is that as an elder orb myself, I look at the clock and see that another 30 minutes puts me past my bedtime. I think if you’re a gamer who enjoys MOBAs, or more specifically enjoyed Paragon, you should check it out. It’s fun. It’s free. It’s a win-win.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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