Last week during E3 2016, I had the opportunity to interview Cameron Winston, the lead hero designer for Epic Games’ MOBA Paragon, and test out the upcoming hero Khaimera. Initial testing for Paragon began in December 2015, but paid early access has been around since March 18 on PlayStation 4 and PC. Paragon sets itself apart in the sea of MOBAs with high-fidelity graphics, third-person shooting mechanics and its availability on the PlayStation 4.
King of the Jungle
The next hero to join Paragon’s roster will be the melee fighter Khaimera. Winston described him as “kind of a jungle, duelist guy who uses two axes. We call him a duelist because, all things being equal, this is a guy who’s going to beat you in a 1on1 fight.”
I had the opportunity to give Khaimera a test drive in a game against A.I. opponents, which unfortunately didn’t exactly give me the most coordinated team to work with. His skillset includes a massive attack steroid, a pounce, health regen buff, and a nuke that roots a single enemy in place.
Normally, in a MOBA bot game I can abuse the system and basically feed on sub-par A.I. opponents to build powerful items and quickly unlock all of a hero’s ability. However, the bots in Paragon have always been a little better than average and despite being a “duelist,” Khaimera isn’t exactly the best character to solo enemies early in the game. To say the least, I rather embarrassed myself early on with a death in the first few minutes.
Now, I can definitely see Khaimera being useful in a well-coordinated team that would make use of his awesome ganking ability. His pounce has a decent range and his ultimate will hold an enemy in place long enough to single them out. Furthermore, his attack speed buff allows him to deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
That being said, if Khaimera doesn’t land a killing blow he turns into a very easy target. His pounce has a long cooldown and the duration of his root is incredibly short. Additionally, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to burst an opponent down by himself is they have any type of escape mechanism. If attempting to solo an enemy with equal gear and levels, chances are that he won’t be able to finish them off before they can retreat.
Everything about Khaimera’s kit is designed to allow him to win a 1v1 fight, but that only works if the enemy is willing to actually stay still. Between his health regen and attack speed boost, his auto attacks are both deadly and help keep him alive, but he’s also very susceptible to burst damage and hard crowd control. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend Khaimera to a new player due to a lack of escape mechanism and all-in mentality, but he could work well in the right team composition.
The Future of Paragon
In addition to adding a new hero every three weeks, Paragon is starting to shift its philosophy. Winston stressed that Paragon is in a state of evolution, and the team is constantly identifying things to help improve the game.
“What we’re heading towards is commitment. We’re trying to get more of that into our game. By commitment we mean clear choices that matter and have consequences. So players understand that choosing A over B is different than choosing B over A. Where you lane, what heroes you pick, and what the matchups are. All of that should matter. We’ve made a bunch of meta changes to help push us towards this decision,” he said.
Some of the recent changes to the game include reworking the way equipment cards are earned and changing passive skills. The changes don’t stop there, however, and major alterations to Paragon are on their way.
The way fast travel works in Paragon is unique in the MOBA world as it allows players to charge up and sprint until the action begins. However, the development team feels that this is taking away from the risk vs reward element in the game because players can easily get anywhere on the map. Instead, the game is going to take on a more traditional MOBA route and is adding teleportation.
“What we were noticing is that it kind of went against our theme of commitment,” Winston said. “You didn’t have to choose where you wanted to play, which is a very core MOBA thing. We’re replacing travel mode with teleport.”
The ability to teleport will follow tradition with a long cooldown that will let players teleport to any friendly structure. The ability is still being developed, but a 90-second cooldown was suggested and it will be implemented “when it’s ready.” Teleporting will be interrupted with stuns, roots, and knock-ups but not damage or slows. The idea is that “you can be anywhere but you can’t be everywhere. That’s what we’re trying to fix with this change.”
The other interesting change is the idea of drop pods. While some MOBAs allow players to shop anywhere on the map, and others allow couriers, Paragon will include a deployable shop. The idea is that a drop pod can be summoned with a one-minute cooldown, but enemies can deny purchases by destroying it, which then increases the cooldown time. Players won’t lose items or gold if a drop pod is destroyed, but their enemies will likely gain a card advantage.
Additionally, the team is considering a “fast track” system, which could function similar to “Homeguard” in League of Legends. After travel mode is removed from the game, it might be beneficial to have a temporary speed boost to quickly return to lanes. This would be deactivated on damage or ability use.
And what MOBA would be complete without a competitive game mode? In addition to the community run tournaments already available, an official ranked mode is in the works.
Winston also wanted to add one last note about the game’s replay and spectating system:
“Finally, I wanted to call out our replay and spectating system. We’re making improvements to it all the time. It’s a great tool that lets players learn what happened to them in the game, but it’s also a great tool for content creators who get to actually see the game, the beautiful art work, pause/rewind, and to drive the point home, the Khaimera video was actually made in our replay tool.”
For those who are interesting in giving Paragon a try, it’s currently available in early access on the PlayStation 4 and PC. Furthermore, the free Open Beta will begin on August 16, all heroes will remain free, and early access progress won’t be wiped.Related: E3, E3 2016, Hands On, MOBA, Paragon, Preview