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Paragon Monolith Hands-on Report

Paragon Monolith Hands-on Report

Everything you learned about Epic’s MOBA Paragon can be thrown out the window, because when December 6 comes around the new Monolith map arrives with huge changes to the game. So huge in fact that it doesn’t feel like the same game at all.

For months, Epic has been soaking up the feedback from players as they dashed around the Legacy map. One thing was clear from that research; the game just wasn’t MOBA enough. Not for Epic, and not for many of the players. I’ll admit I have loved playing Paragon on the Legacy map. I’ve had some amazing games (and some terrible ones too), but after playing on Monolith I now have a better understanding of why Epic needed to make the changes.

Monoloth – The Map

Epic has completely changed the map to be more like a traditional MOBA. The straight lanes of the Legacy map are gone, and now the lanes twist and turn across the map, reducing the line of sight as players make their way down them. The jungle is now also more of a jungle, full of nooks and crannies, minion camps, and, unlike any other MOBA, high vantage points to stalk the enemy. All of this makes for a very different play experience.

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Looking across the dense jungle

One of the big concerns about Paragon this year has been Travel Mode, where a player would move into a faster run speed after a few seconds of not being hit. Well, Epic has finally removed Travel Mode from the game once and for all. The verdict? It’s great.

Player base movement speed has been massively increased which means there’s now no need for any kind of speed boost. All heroes are dashing around the map at the same speed, which means that any kind of escape skills now play an even more important role. Epic has got the hero speed spot-on and it’s a pleasure to not have to deal with the frustratingly slow walking speed of the old Legacy map.

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Another new addition are jump pads. At the base there are two jump pads that propel heroes forward towards the tier one towers. These are disabled once one of your tier 2 towers are disabled. There’s also a jump pad in the jungle. Climb some steps, hit the pad, and you are launched to the other side of the jungle.

The towers are very strange at the moment, they seem quite underpowered against heroes. An enemy such as Countess or Khaimera can simply jump into the tower and take you out no problem and simply walk away practically unscathed. They appear to offer a lot less protection which is a real issue in the mid lane where the towers are surrounded by fog walls on either side. I expect the tower damage will be tweaked.

Back to the drawing board

All the Paragon heroes have also been given stat tweaks to fall in line with changes to some of the cards and game mechanics. One big change is the removal of cooldown cards from the decks. Each skill now has shorter cooldown as the skill is levelled up. I’m in two minds whether this was a good move, but it does mean there’s one less thing to worry about when building a deck.

Creating a great deck is part of the fun of Paragon, because it means the same hero as you on the opposition side is likely to be a bit different. Cooldown was something I enjoyed tweaking, but you can’t have everything.

Anyone who has been playing the old Legacy map is going to be surprised at the changes and it will mean making brand new builds. It’s highly unlikely that the deck which worked in Legacy now works in Monolith. I had to scrap my Gadget deck completely and start over because mana appears to play a much more important part when it comes to caster abilities. What worked before simply doesn’t work now and I have spent four days testing new decks and have still not managed to create anything nearly as good as my old build. It’s almost there but not quite.

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Slotting in cards works the same way as before but you’ll need to rework old decks.

Physical and Energy damage are now gone from the game so players now only have to worry about one stat: Power. All the cards have been adjusted to reflect the new stat, which means any decks you had will more than likely have to be significantly changed for that reason alone. Physical damage now equates to Basic Damage and Energy Damage to Ability Damage.

Epic has worked hard at making sure that in Monolith each hero can excel in different places on the map. This was attempted on the old map, but really, you could romp around anywhere and it didn’t make too much of a difference. Now that the jungle has become a complex system of corners and twists peppered with strategic buffs and minions. It’s now more important to try and stick to some kind of role. Junglers need to jungle and need to be aware of where the enemy is to make those all important ganks and kill minion camps. Laners need to keep the minions back and at the same time be completely map aware. It’s now a lot tougher and more like a MOBA.

Minions and Buffs

The number of buffs and minion camps in Monolith have been increased, some of them specifically designed and positioned to help specific hero roles. For example, the new Gold Buff is there to help carries gain card points and level faster and these are just off the left and right lanes. The new, easy to kill, River Buffs are to help the mid-laner push forward with randomised buffs such as Speed Boost, entering the Shadow Plane or Damage over time on the basic attack. There’s a raptor camp containing three raptors that are intentionally harder to kill; these guys give a great card point and experience boost. The blue and red orbs from the old map are gone, so thankfully you won’t have to see messages of “Attack the Red Buff” right at the start of every game. There’s also now a jungle buff which will help junglers dash around the minion camps. It also deals explosive damage when the timer runs out.

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The new Gold Buff to help carries.

Minion behaviour has also been tweaked. Minions appear to be a little more aggressive when coming in contact with a hero. If they spot you in the tower zones, they will cling to you and even drive to the back of the tower. Because they have this behaviour you can drag them around the tower and let the tower do most of the damage before getting in a last-hit.

Into the Fog

After playing the Legacy map for so long, the jungle felt confusing. But, like everything here, it’s a matter of getting to know it. It’s worth pointing out the removal of the Shadow Pools. On the old map you could hide in these and they were great ganking tools. Monolith now comes with fog wall to replace the pools which I have to say I’m not that keen on at the moment.

WTF is behind that fog?

WTF is behind that fog?

To the side and behind the tier one towers, in the middle lane, there are fog walls on either side so if you are mid-laning you’re a sitting duck. Even with wards as a warning, it’s hard to escape from a hero like Khaimera. There are a lot of these walls, perhaps a little too many for my liking. They conceal the enemy just enough to screw you over if you’re caught out. Over extending is now more lethal than ever.

The wards, which were so important in the Legacy map, now function a little differently and are note quite as effective. The way the map is now designed means they don’t offer nearly as much of an early warning as they did before. It appears they work on the principle of line of sight, resulting in a lot less protection. Players will need to seek out the best places to deploy these to make them as effective as possible.

Gaining the Points

Now that Harvesters are gone and have been replaced with the Amber Link black ball things, Card Points are harder to come by. The new Amber Link black orbs charge up before dishing out points to the whole team, but it’s not very clear in-game what they are actually doing, What happens is minion kills inside the jungle charge these up. You can drain the enemy’s link by attacking it and stealing their card points, and as you hit the Link with an attack, you can see the card points you’re stealing next to Link Orb tick up.  I thought the Harvester system on the Legacy map was okay; it could turn into a game of cat and mouse as enemies attempted to take them down

 

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The Amber Link – Protect it

Making last hits is now vital for effective levelling. I can’t stress that enough. Card Points no longer come in increments of three; it’s now single point levelling. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of this change as it means even more messing around with decks. You have to pick early game cards carefully with lower upgrades, which are then ditched mid to late game. The whole card point levelling process feels a little too slow in the early game, especially for characters relying on mana. Simply put, if a team is lagging behind on last hit kills they will likely lose, which is why that count is now more prominent on the score board. Legacy players are going to have to practice those last hits.

You need to make last hits to get those card points

You need to make last hits to get those card points

What happened to the heroes?

For the past few days the player pool has not been particularly large, so I’ve not seen how all the heroes have changed. However, as a Master Gadget, I have discovered that Gadget is probably no longer the hero for me. Her skills feel quite nerfed. For example, her speed gate now has a 20 second cooldown now matter what level it is, and also seems less effective when trying to escape. Her mana consumption feels heavier, which makes her quite frustrating to play early to mid game. Of course I probably just need to readjust to the changes, but she does feel underpowered early on, and, if that is the case, I hope Epic revisit her soon and tweak some of the skills. Casters seem to be struggling a bit in general from what I can see, especially in the early game.

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Gadgets takes position in the middle lane.

The one hero that has given us quite a chuckle is Twin Blast. He now feels incredibly overpowered. His skills have been completely reworked, which is great for him, but terrible if you come across him. Twin Blast’s ultimate is now devastating and has such a huge range you just have to smile when he takes you out. You can tell he’s probably more effective than most other heroes because in every game you now come across a Twin Blast, which was certainly not the case on the Legacy map.

Paragon is now MOBAlised

After around six days of testing Monolith, I think Epic has got some of the game mechanic changes spot-on. The movement speed is about right, plus there is an increased emphasis on teamplay and roles on the smaller map. On the other hand the card point distribution feels a bit off, and some of the heroes could do with some more balancing.

Anyone who enjoyed the Legacy map and is wondering whether it will ever return, I’m afraid you’ll probably be disappointed. Epic has told us here at PC Invasion that it is highly unlikely to happen. Still, it would be great to see it return in some form as a specific game mode.

The Paragon Legacy map was exciting to play, but while half the community loved the gameplay, others criticised Epic for not making the game MOBA-like enough. Regular readers will know that I have enjoyed Paragon immensely this year and have been a fan of the fast gameplay and heroes. As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy the traditional MOBA style, some  of the new changes are not exactly to my taste; the high emphasis on the last hit being a particular gripe. That said, MOBA players will enjoy this because it’s now ticking more of the MOBA boxes. Long-term, that was always Epic’s goal, and even with that stronger emphasis I’m still thoroughly enjoying this new version of the game. Mid to late game it’s quite exciting.

With some more feedback from players and further tweaks, Paragon should keep going from strength to strength.

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Comments

  • Railbydefault

    Last hit for the early, mid, and late victory ftw!

    • Paul Younger

      It’s all about those damn last hits!