eSport Potential: Paragon

The eSport Potential is a series of articles where I try to look at games I see a potential in as an eSport. It can be old games as well as new or upcoming games. The thing that tie them together is that I feel they have the potential to be great for players and viewers on the competitive scene.

First impressions
MOBA games have been arround for some time and many have come and gone in the competitive scene. Right now LoL and Dota2 are the dominating games from that genre and they don’t leave much space for other MOBA games.
But that memo didn’t reach the studio Epic Games when they announced their next-generation take on the MOBA genre; Paragon.

At first glance you will be blown away by the graphics of the game. It’s beautiful beyond any other MOBA. But as we all know graphics isn’t everything (I’m looking at you MineCraft!). What is the driving factor that could make this game a potential game in eSports?

I had heard and read about this game for the better part of a year before I decided to look closer at it. Still in the early access stage I had to throw a few bucks for the game but what else could I do – it was raining that day. So I was ready to take on my only third MOBA game.

Intense feeling and flow
Right from the start I felt pumped. Like it was actually me and not just the character I picked who went into battle. It was all AI team mates vs an AI team – because you have to unlock PvP mode by playing a ‘tutorial’ round so to speak… all good, was still pumped.
NOTE: I never got to play a real PvP game due to extreme queue times on the closed servers… and also I tend to play games at very odd hours.

The 3rd person view is a genius move by Epic Games as it put they player in the game and not just playing the game. Super camera options for replays (or views in the case of eSports). Running around on the map and fighting a bit showed a really nice flow in the gameplay. It felt so natural even for a first game. The toolkit for the hero I played worked really nice and felt balanced. Jungle also means jungle in Paragon. You feel like it’s a small rainforest you run into when going to the jungle. I can only imagine how hard it might be to play a ranged hero and run into a battle in those tight quarters.

It felt intense all game – kinda like the entire game was building up to a giant team fight, that would decide the game. If you have played LoL or DotA2 a lot I’m talking about that feeling of ‘oh s**t, will this work’ the last two seconds before you get into that 5v5 battle in the mid lane.

In the current state not all heroes are fully balanced but again, it’s early access. Public beta will launch next week (August 16th) and somewhere in a not too distant future it will go fully live. When that happens I hope for the game to pick up a lot of players who want to try it out because I really see it as a possible eSport game. It has a nice pace, exciting environment, good hero toolkits and not least it feels alive in itself.

I’ve been watching a fair amount of streaming with this game to check if it could keep me excited as a viewer and that was no problem at all. The current version makes sure you don’t fall asleep during early game no matter if you play or view the game. Various small passages certainly make you keep an eye open for enemies attacking from the jungle and with the resource system there’s enough good reasons to run into fights every second you’re playing.

The upgrade system is a bit so-and-so at first but I imagine it will be better once you unlock the card-upgrades needed for the hero you play. The beginner cards are very linear and didn’t allow to personalize your build that much. But I definitely see the potential here.

eSport Potential?
Paragon offers a really cool take on the MOBA genre. It’s much like Smite only I like the flow better. It will by no means take over the spot of LoL or DotA2 but I feel there might just be a spot for it as an eSport anyway. It might only be small tournaments and no league structure but I’m sure it will draw some viewers and players either way. I’ll keep my fingers crossed  at least.

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