Fight or Kite: Predecessor’s open beta brings back MOBA action and a heap of nostalgia

wrong way to hold swords

The newest, brightest pupil from the School for Extraordinary MOBAs has arrived for your gaming pleasure. Predecessor launched in early access last week, bringing a ton of click-click-clicking over-the-shoulder action to your face! Naturally, our intrepid readers will recall that Predecessor is merely the latest student of the long storied Paragon. And what it’s bringing to the table is… Paragon. It’s Paragon.

Paragon, of course, is the long dead (but clearly not forgotten) MOBA by Epic Games, which released the assets for the public to build upon. It’s an interesting history we’ve covered several times, so I won’t rehash it, but like the upper classmen that came before it, the game continues to be rebuilt, retooled, and retried until hopefully one of them sticks and stops the franchise from ultimately falling away into obscurity again.

And I’m not embellishing here, either! It’s not just a game or two. We overdosed on Paragon: The Overprime, found the error in Fault: Elder Orb, and shunted so many kings in Kingshunt. And those are only the games we know of! I’d venture to bet there are handfuls more that are still underway somewhere – or at least were started and gave up before ever showing us their faces.

But today we’re talking about Predecessor, and as I’m saying the name again out loud, it doesn’t even make sense. It should be called Successor, right? Perhaps the devs didn’t want to get ahead of themselves by claiming success too early. History isn’t kind to braggarts. Unless they are winners. In which case, let’s fly like a butterfly and get into Predecessor’s edge, since that is the real question. What does Predecessor offer that versions before it did not?

The interface and visuals are as solid as ever

Predecessor looks fairly beautiful and performs well too. I know many (most? all?) of the heroes were original members of Paragon, so it makes sense that the characters and animations all look so good. If anything, you’d expect things to run more smoothly, considering it’s been something like seven years since Paragon was playable. Even on my potato-based rig with the settings tuned down a bit, the game plays well. Since I didn’t play the original, I can’t make a direct performance comparison there, but compared to my most recent romp in The Overprime, I’d say it performs just as well. And that was coming from a larger publisher, NetMarble. So what I’d say is that the much-leaner team at Omedia Studios has done a great job.

The maps and gameplay are all very reminiscent of the original, if not the same. Honestly, it’s pretty much the same. This is still Paragon through and through, with teams of five split up into your standard MOBA lanes and smashing towers and miscellaneous jungle critters.

I can’t help but still wish attacks and combat played quicker as in most modern MMOs, but I know this isn’t an MMO. I just feel as if I’m fighting in slow motion much of the time here. It’s MOBA standard speed, I think, but still it can feel slow to me.

There’s still gear and items you can purchase during a match with gold gained from killing enemies. I recall this from other MOBAs, but the details of Predecessor’s version versus The Overprime goes a bit over my head. This is largely because unless you really know what you’re doing, you just leave Autobuy enabled, so every time you return to your base, the game will automatically upgrade gear for you. As a noob to MOBAs, I just let this setting ride. Matches are moving along, and I don’t really want to spend too much time sitting at the base. Whatever it auto-picks for me is probably good enough.

Before a match begins, there is one piece of gear or a talisman thingy that you can pick from that will give you an ultimate ability and will upgrade during a match. These are cool! I like how they play out.

One item I’d likely suggest to improve the UI in the lobby would come from the way The Overprime (I think) laid out its menus. It was easy to see which hero pairs with which playstyle before you select your preference at the start of a match. Before I started to play, I had flipped through the heroes and decided I wanted to go for the Countess, but I couldn’t recall which lane she’s technically designed for, so I picked my best guess – but was wrong. I think someone on my team even sent me a message in chat saying they were reporting me. Dang. It’s not as if I did it on purpose.

There’s only one game mode currently, but we’ve been told more will come

On the other hand, Predecessor put together a good tutorial mode and an even better practice mode. I don’t remember any other editions of Paragon including a practice mode, but I really appreciated it. It gives me a chance to actually pick a hero and see the skills in action without having to commit to even a battle against the computer. It’s the sort of mode that will get almost no love after a player understands the game and heroes a bit better, but for me as a beginner, I really liked it.

Currently the only supported game mode is the typical 5v5 on the big ol’ map. Matches are going to run around 20 to 30 minutes, which is pushing my gaming limits. However, in a pre-open beta video a couple of weeks ago, CEO Robbie Singh had mentioned some of the additions the devs want to add to Predecessor. Hopefully the open beta period goes well enough that we’ll be able to see most of those additions make their way here.

In my last column I questioned whether or not the world even wants or needs another Paragon. Unfortunately, I think that’s still up for debate. Predecessor certainly makes a case that players who enjoyed Paragon should enjoy this as well. But I’ve still got my doubts about whether there’s enough of a special twist, something that makes Predecessor really stand out from its… predecessors. It’s certainly got the base of Paragon down pat, and it’s solid in that respect. Whether or not it can rise above those that came before it though… that will remain a question for now.

Predecessor is currently in open beta on Steam and consoles, so if you remember Paragon fondly, try it out now.

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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