Paragon has the PC Gamer team divided (opens in new tab): PCG Pro editor and Dota obsessive Chris found that it was just traditional enough to make him feel like he had an edge, and who doesn't enjoy winning? James, on the other hand, was hoping it would lean more towards the shooter side and became frustrated by its stereotypical MOBA elements. From March 18, you can decide for yourself as Paragon releases in early access form via the Epic Games Launcher.
Paragon (opens in new tab) will be a free-to-play game, but if you want in on the early build, you'll need to stump up. The Founder's Packs going on sale March 14 will get you in and also offer hero skins, boosts and cosmetics. The basic Founder's Pack starts at $19.99. The Challenger Pack, meanwhile, is $60, while the Master Pack is an astounding $100—according to Epic, these contain a 'huge' number skins, including a unique skin, unlockables and a Founder's Pack to give to a friend.
During early access, Epic plans to release a new, free hero every three weeks as well as hosting community events and offering unspecified "daily and weekly rewards". If you're not keen to buy in, there will be free beta weekends scattered throughout the early access period.
It's a cliché, but I understand why Epic wants to stress the following:
"Paragon is designed so that all players can compete and win without ever having to spend money. All Heroes are free, and cards can only be earned by playing the game. The game will never be pay-to-win, meaning we will never sell gameplay-affecting items."
Epic has a good track record when it comes to free, from the upcoming Unreal Tournament (opens in new tab) to Unreal Engine 4 (opens in new tab). The model works for Dota, but can Paragon achieve the critical mass to succeed?
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Paragon would release in Early Access via Steam, but that's not the case. Paragon will be available through the Epic Games Launcher.