Of all of the third party projects to revive Epic’s attempt at entering the MOBA market, Predecessor has emerged as the most faithful and well polished. But what makes it different to its competitors efforts such as Paragon: The Overprime?
Introduction: A Brief History
Paragon was Epic’s attempt at a triple A MOBA to break into the popular market. A stunning reveal using their own Unreal Engine (a bit before it got as popular as it is today) and some visually impressive assets, it offered a niche that League of Legends and DOTA didn’t. Third person, with controller support and console crossplay.
Paragon had a iterative development cycle, initially changing up the standard MOBA formats, forgoing a traditional items system, a CTF styled jungle objective for currency and a jungle buff you need to ‘dunk’ to cash in on. I played the closed beta in 2015 along with the early access in 2016, before it became a free to play open beta in August 2016. Paragon’s focus on a unique jungle, verticality in character abilities and map design, sprinkled with plenty of MOBA staples such as passives, creep faming and roles, made it a refreshing experience when compared to other TPS MOBA’s such as SMITE.
Unfortunately Paragon had a short life, overshadowed by the success of another Epic property, you might of heard of it, Fortnite. The success of the battle royale forced Epic to divert its staff and resources away from Paragon, before the servers were closed for good. In April 2018, Paragon was no more, much to the lament of its dedicated fanbase.
Epic however did release pretty much all of the Unreal Engine Paragon assets for free, for anyone to download and use in their own games, which lead to many attempts at reviving what was considered a diamond in the rough by many. After years of a few projects failing to get off the ground, fans of Paragon now have two choices to relive the glory days.
Gameplay: Meat of the MOBA
Being a MOBA, Predecessor has the usual gameplay loop. Go to a lane, last hit minions, contest jungle objectives and destroy enemy towers to win. Thankfully Paragon’s weird gatcha styled card system is nowhere to be seen, and is instead replaced with a traditional item system. Where it really shakes things up is with its verticality across the map. You will find yourself at an advantage if you try to ambush the enemy from above or below. Likewise you’ll want to keep an eye on your lane openings as a Rampage flying into your face will spell your doom. Unlike League of Legends and its mostly 2D plane of play, the minimap alone isn’t totally relative to where danger is coming from.
Predecessor emulates the original Paragon closely, with a few improvements learnt from Paragon’s later lifecycle, and tweaks to certain character kits. Players who have played Overprime will find Predecessor to be slower paced and less team fight oriented, were the focus is winning your lane. The two also have a slightly different character roster, and champion balancing, where Overprime doesn’t even have character passives (likely in an attempt to streamline its hero based focus). Overprime also keeps the controversial ‘travel mode’ mechanic with bushes and shadow pads to hide in. This isn’t in Predecessor, which ends up having a much more smooth gameplay curve across the match, rather than constant spikes of action and movement.
Most characters are the same as they were years ago, retaining the look, feel and gameplay of their original selves. A few however have had some changes that I personally think improve them. Dekker gains some more offensive actions, her original Ultimate has become a regular ability and she gets a brand new laser beam! These changes mesh well with the original foundation Predecessor emulates and don’t feel out of place at all. Even if they are using Muriel’s uncanny human face still! (Please Omeda, do my girl justice).
Early Access is being split into ‘Seasons’ with different heroes, skins and more being released during its updates. These can be earned simply by playing and earning player exp, which hits milestones in a manner similar to a battle pass.
When asked about the future of Predecessor, Omeda community manager Karifora had this to say:
We’re thrilled with the response to Predecessor so far and can’t wait to continue building the game alongside a community that has been so passionate and supportive. We’ve got some great things lined up we can’t wait to share more news on, such as returning heroes Revenant and Shinbi, as well as past Early Access Season One, which includes the winner of our community Hero vote and a number of improvements and additions we think the players will love!
– Karifora, Omeda Studios Community manager
Predecessor is planning on adopting the Free To Play model ‘later this year’ once early access has ended entirely.
Audio and Visuals: Unreal Beauty
Despite being made back in 2016, Paragon’s assets still hold up today, especially in the MOBA market when you consider League of Legends still uses 10+ year old models for certain champions. Predecessor also uses Unreal Engine 5 to sweeten the deal. They have also shown they can add new animations to the characters with new abilities so it doesn’t feel like a total copy paste of the available assets. With plans to add their own unique skin concepts into the game, and the possibility of other characters having revised kits, it is likely Predecessor will try to keep things fresh.
Engagements with enemy towers and heroes feel weighty and impactful with chunky audio. Complimentary particles that aren’t too flashy help give abilities the visual fidelity to stand out. Hitting an enemy with one and seeing them explode into orange sparks as they fizzle away back to spawn is always satisfying, along with the Halo-esque announcer voice.
Predecessor was reviewed via Steam, with a key provided by Omeda Studios.