Epic Games’ Paragon is in Early Access and the PlayStation 4 Essentials Edition launches next week. The third-person MOBA enters a crowded genre, but it’s bringing with it Epic’s pedigree. The game looks gorgeous and genuinely mixes up some MOBA norms. But how will Paragon perform as an esport? Here are five things it needs to succeed as a competitive viewing experience.
This is an obvious recommendation, but it’s an important one, especially for Paragon. The information you need to play a game is very different than the information you need to watch one. Paragon‘s map features a complex network of jungle paths and remarkable verticality relative to other MOBAs. Frankly, it’s a confusing and hard to read map, and the third-person perspective doesn’t help.
If Epic hopes to bring in esports followers, especially those unfamiliar with other competitive games, the game must have a robust spectator mode. A top-down perspective and free-moving camera is the only way viewers will appreciate the high-level strategy and movement that goes into esports play.
Shoutcasting is an art. The best shoutcasters bring enthusiasm and immense knowledge to the table. They have to maintain energy throughout long games, cover in-depth team tactics and still provide basic insight to those new to the game. It’s tempting to let the Paragon community surface their own shoutcasters as it gains in popularity, but to hit the ground running, Epic should bring in outside talent. There are plenty of shoutcasters who have been in the business for years, building up a loyal following and incredible expertise. Hiring these professional could elevate Paragon esports immediately.
Earlier this year, Valve came under fire for the complete debacle that was the Dota 2 Shanghai Majors event. The company outsourced planning for the event, which resulted in bizarre scheduling, lost hardware, a fired host and a terrible viewing experience. The disaster proved actual company involvement is paramount in creating a strong esports scene. Epic is right to focus on gameplay first, but when they are ready to launch Paragon as an esport, they’ll need to support the scene quickly and consistently.
An Improved Card System
The item system in League of Legends is the hardest mechanic to understand for new plays, and for good reason. Having access to so many items is overwhelming, and the impact these items have in a match can be confusing for new players. Blizzard removed items entirely to ease players into Heroes of the Storm, but Epic has doubled-down on items. The complex card system is actually refreshing, but it’s also extremely daunting for viewers. Itemization is a key component for players and teams to give them an edge in competitive play. Epic needs to make their system more clear for viewers if they hope to make esports competitions readable to those unfamiliar with the game.
An Excellent Ranked Mode
One of the reasons fans watch esports is to learn from the pros. High-level competitors provide aspirational goals. Watching a top-tier player is a great way to improve your own skills. However, that means you also need a robust ranking system to measure your own progress. Creating a great matchmaking and ranked system isn’t easy — which is partially why Overwatch still hasn’t released their own competitive mode yet. Progression must be clear and matchmaking must seem fair. Without an excellent ranked mode, it will be difficult for Paragon viewers to appreciate the skill it takes to become an esports pro.