Fight or Kite: Is Epic’s MOBA Paragon just too easy to remake but impossible to succeed?


This past week we got some news regarding Predecessor, a new MOBA game on the way. At first blush, it looks like many other third-person over-the-shoulder MOBAs that have released recently, though few have reached the lofty heights of games like League of Legends and SMITE (despite my aversion to the latter). Still, there was something about it that caught my attention long enough that I had to look more closely. Then I had that sinking feeling in my gut, one that’s not so different from the feeling I had when I came across some of my high school poetry this week. And that’s because this is yet another spin-off of Paragon. Someone is still trying to remake Paragon.

I know I said it last time, but I suppose it’s still true: What is dead may never die. This is far from the first time we’ve seen Paragon zombie itself back to life under a new name. And like a zombie, the new version bears many similarities to the real thing – but there’s also something wrong that prevents it from really capturing whatever it was that made Paragon whole. It’s getting to a point of entering the uncanny valley. Not to mention it’s died once twice four times at least, so maybe there’s a reason for that in the first place?

Boring plus boring equals still boring. Today in boring math.

Epic Games released these assets to empower other developers

Now in my previous columns covering some of the other incarnations of Paragon, I’ve discussed what Paragon was and why these spin-offs exist at all. The elevator summary is that the game was struggling to be successful enough for Epic Games to maintain, so the company shut it down. However, in an unusual bout of community compassion, Epic released the assets and encouraged other developers to use them to jumpstart their own version of Paragon.

Of course, it’s unusual for a game company to do something like this, but it’s not unheard of (still not often enough though) for a company to open-source or release its models. I’m a huge fan of open source and free as in beer software, so I remain impressed with Epic Games’ decision here. It’s hard to believe a company the size of Epic Games actually released Paragon’s assets. Most companies would rather go to the grave with their IP than even entertain the thought that another company could make use of the work and carry on the legacy of the game.

Multiple studios have taken up the mantle, each stumbling out the gate

So of course it makes sense that developers out there who would like to build a MOBA game would like to take on these assets. So much work goes into that part of a project so having those pieces already built is a huge boon.

And that’s how we got games like Fault: Elder Orb, Paragon: The Overprime, Kingshunt, and most recently Predecessor. I played all of the above save Predecessor, and I’ve been able to share my thoughts about them. None of these games had glaring issues that I ran into. They played well and were for the most part enjoyable experiences.

Paragon: The Overprime in particular likely had the best chances of the bunch above primarily because it was backed by NetMarble. Having a major studio like that in your corner should have given the team the budget to take those existing assets and really build on them and move forward. And yet, it recently announced a shutdown. I think the issue here – and with all of these spinoffs that have stumbled and fallen – is that they didn’t do anything really new with the game.

These “new” titles come out and announce themselves as if they’ve done all this work to build a massive MOBA that players can jump into and really get some great PvP experience out of. And yes, you can play them! They are functional and decent games at that. But what’s special about them? What do we really have here that’s going to elevate it not just above the dregs of similar games but above the original game?

That’s really the issue. There’s a reason that Paragon, like it or not, failed. It obviously clicked on some level with a number of players because not only do we see so many developers trying their hand at it, but players are showing up for these sequels. At least they are at first – at least for a little while. They encourage and embolden the developers to move forward with the game. I mean, they must, right, or studios would stop doing it?

But somewhere it all falls apart, and one after another has admitted defeat. Or not admitted defeat, in Kingshunt’s case, though it’s still defeat.

Paragon died, and it died for a reason. Yet, so many of the games I’ve played before have essentially just turned the Paragon servers back on. The heroes, the skills, the movement and gameplay are all pretty much the same. Sure, we have a few new skins, and some of the dev teams even tried their hand at making their own heroes, but all-in-all it’s still just Paragon.

And yes, Paragon had good bones to start with. I said it in my previous playthroughs of the spin-offs, and I’ll say it again: There is a good game here, but obviously there needs to be more. I don’t know if it’s more game modes, more combinations of skills, or even different levels and maps. But something has got to change to make a newer, better Paragon.

Now, we don’t know much about Predecessor because it was literally just announced. I haven’t played Predecessor, and obviously I don’t know whether it’ll actually take the pieces of the game left behind by Epic Games and raise them to the next level or it’ll be just another footnote in the now long history of Paragon. Certainly, Robbie Singh, the CEO of Omeda Studios (which is heading up this edition of Paragon) has real passion for the game. Watching some of his developer diaries is encouraging, and that counts for a lot. But the leads of Fault and Overprime were also optimistic. It’ll be interesting to see if Singh and his crew can pull off what the teams before it failed to do.

Well, I’m here for it. After all this talk and bluster, I’d be a pretty big tool to not at least play it on release. So stay tuned and we’ll see if Predecessor is the chosen one. Open beta is reported to go live on March 28th, so let’s get in there and take some lanes. Is that something MOBA players say?

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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