Paragon: Monolith Update Unleashed

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Epic Games’ Paragon, a free-to-play MOBA with some incredible graphics and character design, went into open beta during August of this year. The game offers direct, third-person control of all its heroes, and after every three weeks a brand-new hero pops up, ready for action. (As of writing, there are 25 heroes total, and the list keeps on growing.)

Similar to other popular MOBA’s, Paragon uses elements such as map lanes and jungles, harvestable resources, a pair of home-bases (one for each opposing team), defensive towers, inhibitors, and AI minions. After selecting a hero, you then build a small deck of power-up cards, sync-up with four other players on your side, grow in power (by gaining experience and leveling up abilities), and eventually try to obliterate the enemy’s core in their base. Of course, you need to protect your team’s core as well, or you’ll suffer a similar defeat.

Since Paragon released into early access and open beta, Epic Games paid close attention to player feedback, testing, and overall gameplay. With the latest patch, they’ve focused on improving upon just about every item, while still keeping all the awesome mechanics that make the game so much fun to play. According to the developers, they state that “This new version of Paragon will deliver a faster, more visceral gameplay experience that you’d expect from an action game while retaining all of the meta game and strategy of a competitive MOBA.”

The biggest and most immediately obvious change comes in the form of the new map, dubbed Monolith. The older map, which is now referred to as Legacy, was much larger, and Epic Games noticed that its size needed to be toned down a bit. The scale of Legacy resulted in overly long matches—sometimes up to an hour and a half—as well as a trend for heroes to stay turtled up in certain zones.

Monolith has been revamped to fix all that, and it adds some great new features as well. It’s about 30% smaller than Legacy, easier to move around in, contains verticality (without feeling overpowered), and perhaps most surprisingly, variable movement speed with Travel Mode has been eliminated—all heroes now move at one unified pace. Additionally, Monolith is an asymmetrical map, which lends value to certain heroes controlling specific locations to get the most out of their kits. (For an in-depth synopsis of the map’s creation, check out Epic Games’ Road to Monolith part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6.)

But Monolith is just a portion of the update. Damage and armor for all heroes got reconfigured too. There’s now basic damage, applied from primary attacks, and ability damage, which comes from any activatable powers. Similarly, basic armor protects you from primary DPS, whereas ability armor shields you from spell damage. The concepts of Physical and Energy are also history, and in their place, heroes can now utilize cards with a unified power stat, which pumps up basic abilities and attacks.

Speaking of cards (Paragon’s version of stackable hero boosts, unlocked by gaining reputation points by completing matches), cooldown reduction is no longer present on them. In fact, cooldown reduction is essentially gone altogether, as Epic Games significantly decreased most cooldowns. Mana is making a resurgence too. For example, certain abilities with buffed cooldowns will need more mana as the match progresses. That means you can purchase additional mana for extra activations, or focus on fewer but more powerful activations.

All heroes got reworked and rebalanced as well. In addition to the previously mentioned movement speed increase, each hero now wields faster kill times, reduced ability ranges, and quicker activation animations. Plus, the past classifications of Ranger, Caster, and Fighter have been wiped. In their place, you’ll now see multiple hero traits under each hero (such as Assassin, Elusive, Seiger, Wild, etc.), which more accurately describe a particular character and their skillsets. However, these hero traits are basic descriptors, not hard-and-fast rules. Paragon encourages you to experiment with heroes and how they play, even if a hero trait doesn’t necessarily seem like it fits a particular battlefield role.

Epic Games also recognized that Paragon’s hero vision—that is, what a hero can see on the map, and who or what they can target—needed some tweaking. As a result, Shadow Pads, which were once used to obscure line of sight without literally doing so, have been axed. Instead, you’ll now see Fog Walls on the map, which directly block line of sight for heroes and wards. Lead Hero Designer Cameron Winston claims these Fog Walls “Make going into and out of the jungle a more surprising event and they help create the laning experience we’re looking to deliver.”

On top of all these game-changing additions, Paragon looks utterly sensational. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, its graphics are some of the best you’ll currently see in any MOBA. Those graphics are enhanced even further by using a GeForce GTX graphics card; Paragon looks especially jaw-dropping in 4K. Epic Games has a detailed system requirements section on their FAQ page, including loads of graphs showing FPS per GPU compared to the game’s graphics settings. On the Epic value (all settings maxed), the developers claim you can snag an average of 78 FPS with a GTX 1070, and 85 FPS on average using a GTX 1080. That means you’ll enjoy seamless, competitive MOBA gameplay with terrific graphics to boot—the best of both worlds.

Having a GeForce GPU also allows you to take advantage of GeForce Experience, which brings such useful features as game-ready drivers, one-click optimization settings, NVIDIA Share, lucrative give-aways, and a lot more.

You can play Paragon for free by creating an Epic account on the game’s homepage.