Update 11/11/2016: Epic Games has officially announced via their blog that the new Paragon map, Monolith, and what they are calling a “revamped gameplay experience” for the third-person MOBA will arrive Dec. 6. Full details on the new Paragon map and the new, streamlined gameplay experience are in the original post below.
Epic Games, the industry veterans behind Gears of War and the Unreal Engine, announced today their intention to bring Monolith a new map to their upcoming MOBA title Paragon. The new Paragon map, which is likely to eventually replace the existing map, Agora, marks a substantial change for the title as Epic hones in on their vision for their third-person MOBA.
Fandom caught up with some prominent players and personalities from the Paragon community who saw a preview version of the map in August. We wanted to gauge how they feel the changes will affect the game in the future.
About the New Paragon Map
The new Paragon map is smaller. That’s the most obvious change that everyone noticed immediately when playing the currently unnamed map. “It’s WAY smaller” states YouTube and Twitch personality, GenerationHollow. “The lanes were closer, the jungle technically smaller, but with a similar amount of camps to kill, the side lanes felt very different with their many new paths.” The current Agora map is almost twice as large as the new map. This would naturally make Agora a lot slower to traverse than traditional MOBAs, something which Epic tried to solve with the addition of travel mode.
Twitch streamer pookieface88 details what’s different about the new map:
“It’s a complete rework of Agora, with few components left behind. There are still three lanes, but the jungle has been reworked and is no longer a flat surface. It has multiple areas where ramps lead up to buff camps and orb prime. There are still shadow pools coming out of the jungle into lane and there are still the same number of towers and inhibitors.”
Competitive player and redditor JShredz explains, “The map itself is a huge step in the right direction. The jungle is quite a bit more complicated vertically than it used to be, so that will take some adjusting, but I think everyone will be pleased with the change.”
The travel mode mechanic is simply a speed boost to allow players to get around faster. Since the early online tests, the community has heavily criticized travel mode. Pookieface88 shared her thoughts on Paragon’s current implementation of travel mode:
“Travel mode, in its current form, is an unfair advantage for enemies that look to gank early game. From my personal experience as a Sparrow main, if I am warding deep into the enemy jungle and not over-extending on lanes and can still be killed, that is a problem.”
Strategy is one of the defining characteristics of the MOBA genre. The use of towers, minions, and three lanes all separate these games from a deathmatch-style of gameplay. However, many players felt that travel mode was a detriment to the game’s strategic choices. An early implementation of the mechanic caused a snare to players hit while in travel mode.
Epic recently removed from the game, and the community has had a hard time adjusting. “When travel mode snares existed, it meant travel mode was risky. You’d have to consider if it was worth it mid combat. I think it worked well for the game mechanically but felt very frustrating for many players,” said GenerationHollow. As a result of this, Epic have been slowly phasing travel mode out over a number of patches. The final stage will be the removal of the map entirely — and travel mode along with it.
Top competitive player and Paragon veteran BeCertified commented on the new shadow pads which allowed you to attack from stealth. “Something that makes the new map so good is the jungle and shadow pads. You don’t get shown unless you are hit or there is a ward, meaning you can use skill shots and force rotations.” In Agora, using any abilities within a pad would reveal the player. He continues “The way the jungle is laid out gives a lot of verticality to the map allowing for cool team fights.”
Buff camps are a big change in the new Monolith map. While the blue buff stayed the same, Epic removed others and added new ones — including both a green and gold buff. BeCertified says “I did like the green buff for the jungler (bonus movement speed) but was not a big fan of the gold buff. I hope they remove it.”
Competitive player and redditor JShredz explains the gold buff further:
“It gives a CXP multiplier to the last hitter. I think the green buff is a great idea to help with jungler rotation speed, but I am rather skeptical of the gold buff, and think it will take some fine-tuning to ensure it’s not overpowered.”
Many of the recent Paragon patches have meant to reduce match length. It was not uncommon to see players in games for over an hour. One of the fundamental problems is the Agora map itself.
“When we were able to test out the new map at Epic HQ, there really didn’t seem to be a problem with match length. I think the reason for this was that the map forces each role to be played properly to maximize its full potential. You need to be able to make smart rotations and decide if it is worth it to gank early game or just stay in lane and farm. It makes the decisions you make early game have a much larger impact late game. I think that is good for match lengths because you rarely end up in a stalemate.”
JShredz offers insight into how the match length affects strategy:
“I think match lengths will be significantly decreased. Split-pushing becomes far more viable when the enemy team can’t all rush over to defend every tower at once.”
It’s likely that such a drastic game change will result in drastic changes to the current meta. Everyone we spoke with seemed to universally agree that without travel mode, and with a smaller map, heroes with movement speed abilities would see a rise in popularity. Pookieface88 agrees, “Definitely. Because we believe that travel mode will not exist at all on the new map any hero that can give the team any kind of movement speed buff will be a major asset. I also think we will see cards like Blinkshot and Charging Brute more widely used, seeing as they can either grant movement speed or get you out of sticky situations by means of teleport.”
JShredz thinks the new meta will favor Kallari and support heroes:
“Community, you wanted the rise of Kallari, you’re gonna get the rise of Kallari. Her extra movement speed while stealthed shines without travel mode, and her split-pushing potential is huge when the enemy has trouble moving across the map to keep up. In general, I think the support heroes that grant movement speed (Muriel, Dekker, Narbash, Gadget) will become much more potent.”
Trust in Epic
While it’s going to be a long and drawn-out farewell to Agora, the changes Epic are working on are pretty exciting. In general, the changes seem to be pushing Paragon in the right direction. Some players will be sad to see Agora leave the game. BeCertified mentions “(I) got close to 60 days of playtime on Agora so will miss it. It’s a beautiful place to spend your time and I actually don’t think it’s a bad map.”
GenerationHollow however has faith:
“Having spoken directly to the many great people behind Paragon, I can see passion and dedication to creating a game that we as a group can enjoy. As far as companies go, Epic Games have been head and shoulders above most when it comes to communication and taking on board what we as players are trying to tell them. I have a lot of faith in these guys, I’m looking forward to what they bring to us next”.
The ever-positive pookieface88 leaves us with some hopeful parting words:
“I know I sound like a broken record because I feel as though I say this every day, but just trust Epic. I promise you, they know what they’re doing and they won’t lead us into an abyss of doom.”
It’s important to note that the build played by the community members in August may not represent the new Paragon map as it stands today. Monolith is likely to have changed a lot. Epic have also mentioned that they are planning to roll the map out slowly to the player-base.
Note: A version of this article originally ran on Sept. 30.