It’s not easy creating a MOBA in today’s industry. For every Dota 2 and League of Legends that is a rocking success, you have less than successful titles like Battleborn, The Witcher Battle Arena and Infinite Crisis. So when Epic Games revealed that its next big title would be a MOBA running on Unreal Engine 4, collecting several concepts like the Infiltrator teased in past tech demos, we were a bit skeptical. Several months after its arrival in Early Access, Paragon is now one of the hottest new properties out there. What inspired development and what are Epic’s future plans? GamingBolt spoke to creative director Steve Superville to find out.
"We were all so passionate about this kind of gameplay and these “MOBA moments,” that we wondered what we could do with the genre if we mixed it with Epic’s action-oriented DNA."
How long has Paragon in development? The game came somewhat out of left field when we first saw it at PSX 2015.
It hasn’t actually been too long before we’d announced it! Some time before, we’d wanted to work on a new game, with the only real requirement being that it had to be a competitive online game. What that meant was open to interpretation, so we spent months playing a bunch of competitive games as research — first-person shooters, third-person shooters, MOBAs, sports games, MMOs, strategy games, board games, and more.
What we were finding was that a lot of the team was going home at night and in their own personal gaming time, they were playing MOBAs. And every day, we’d come back into the office and tell these amazing stories about clutch plays and last-minute saves, team fights, and so on. We were all so passionate about this kind of gameplay and these “MOBA moments,” that we wondered what we could do with the genre if we mixed it with Epic’s action-oriented DNA.
Paragon has garnered quite a lot positive feedback, especially since heading into early access. According to you, what has contributed the most to the game’s popularity?
It’s hard to say, but some of it’s probably a lot of the same things that attracted the team to MOBA gameplay — the strategy, the teamplay, those MOBA moments. We’ve also been really engaged with our players and community and they’ve responded well to that, but it’s also been really important to us as we get their feedback and help shape the game’s development. The best competitive games are made in a partnership with players and developers.
Every MOBA has its share of archetypes and classes. How did you approach the design of Paragon‘s heroes and how do they distinguish themselves from other MOBA rosters?
When we build a Hero, our intention is to capture a heroic fantasy, and then to have them fulfill a functional role on the team. What makes MOBAs great is the diversity of roles, meaning that players can contribute to their team in a way that best fits their play style. Everyone can bring something new to the battlefield. Our Heroes also need to look like characters that people will enjoy. The diversity of looks and styles allows us and our artists to bring Heroes to life that meet the Epic quality bar.
Will we see a larger variety of maps in Paragon when it officially releases? Along with the standard mode, can we expect any other game types like heroes-only skirmish?
Right now we’re focused on the traditional three lane MOBA map as we’re in beta and focusing on fine-tuning other aspects of the game. There’s certainly a possibility we can explore different map and different game types as Paragon evolves.
"We’re already seeing the community driving its own competitions and tournaments, and we’re watching closely and talking with them to make not only the game better, but the competitive environment better."
Are there plans for Paragon to enter the eSports scene like Dota 2 and League of Legends?
We’re focused on making Paragon the best competitive game it can be. We’re already seeing the community driving its own competitions and tournaments, and we’re watching closely and talking with them to make not only the game better, but the competitive environment better. While eSports may arise from that, we’re not focusing on that right now. The community will tell us when the game is ready for it to be an eSport; if they’re competing and ready to take it to the next level, we will be ready to support them.
What are your thoughts on other “hero shooters” that will be releasing in the coming months like Overwatch and Battleborn, the latter which is decidedly more MOBA-esque?
That feeling of being a superhero and being part of a team is really powerful, so it’s great to see players enjoying games that give you that rush, whether it’s a hero shooter or a traditional MOBA like Paragon.
The game is targeting a solid 60fps on the PS4 but at the cost of resolution (900p). Is there a chance you will be able to bump it up to 1080p in the future?
Our engine team is constantly updating Unreal Engine 4 and optimizing, so while we have nothing to announce or anything specifically planned, I can’t rule it out.
Are there any plans to launch a DX12 build in the future?
Yes, we plan to support DX12 in the future.
I find the absence of Paragon on Xbox One a bit surprising. However recent GDC documents indicate a possible Xbox One version. Is Paragon going to come to Xbox One in the future?
What you’re referring to is a presentation that was specifically focused on the multi-platform Unreal Engine 4 and optimization. We’re currently focused on the PlayStation 4 and PC version of Paragon.
"Sony’s been a great partner, as well, and has been really open to things like cross-play, cross-progression, and such, which was really important to us from the start."
Furthermore, was there a specific reason behind the lack of an Xbox One version to begin with?
We’ve decided to focus our resources on PC and PlayStation 4 as we rolled out Paragon in Early Access and in open beta. Sony’s been a great partner, as well, and has been really open to things like cross-play, cross-progression, and such, which was really important to us from the start.
Where do you see Paragon heading in the long run? What are the plans for its post-early access release?
We’ll be in open beta this summer, and it’ll be great to start getting even more players in the game and getting even more feedback from them. We’ll continue to polish the game, add new Heroes every three weeks, and more. It’s an ongoing journey!
From a theoretical perspective (I am not asking for a confirmation), how does the idea of upgradable consoles sound to you?
I believe that anything that gives gamers value and choice is generally a good thing. Whatever happens in the console space, you can bet that the Unreal Engine 4 and Paragon will expand to take advantage of the hardware available.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
We’re grateful for the passionate, supportive community players we’ve had playing Paragon so far. We couldn’t have made the progress we’ve made without them. And for those who’ve yet to join us, we’ll be in free open beta this summer — we can’t wait to hear what you think, and for you to help us grow the game.