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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Paragon is a downloadable free-to-play online battle arena game with optional in-game purchases. The focus of the game is violence with various ranged and melee weapons. Players are rewarded for killing other players' heroes and destroying their bases. The third-person point of view makes the bloodless, non-graphic violence easily visible but also limits the impact of attacks. Some of the female characters wear revealing costumes. The game supports in-game chat, so players can be exposed to inappropriate comments.
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What's it about?
PARAGON is a fantasy multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) where teams of five players fight to destroy each other's bases. Players choose from a range of heroes with different skills and use them to fill different team roles. Combat is shown from a close-up, third-person point of view. Heroes become more powerful by racking up kills and earning points that can be spent on new skill cards and upgrades. Winning matches earns players' reputation, in-game currency, skill cards, and other random rewards.
Is it any good?
This fast-paced game merges hard-hitting action with a multiplayer online battle arena with explosive results. An upgrade-able card/deck system takes the place of the typical item setup, and the usual bird's-eye camera view is swapped for action that's up close and personal. The idea is to make MOBAs, popular online match games that can be focused on strategy and tactics, more "epic." Aside from an obscure deck system and cluttered interface, it works.
The reasons Paragon works are many. The most obvious is its collection of beautiful heroes. Epic has come up with a diverse group of characters here, from Gears of War-style space marines to sexy goth vampires. The models are fantastic and get better through alternate skins you can buy or earn. Beyond that, their skills are varied and mostly impressive to use (there are a few underwhelming Ultimate abilities that can be used to give you an advantage in battle). The skill card system is intriguing but, due to an overly complicated, cluttered interface, more of a hindrance than a help during combat. The game is still in development, though, and even with the issues, the fun wins out thanks to a beefy tutorial section, satisfyingly visceral attacks, and a store full of fun rewards just waiting to be unlocked. The latter is especially nice, since everything -- skins, cards, experience and reputation boosts, and silly images (burly warrior hula-hooping, anyone?) -- can be earned through gameplay, which means Paragon is truly free-to-play. The game is currently in open beta, so with any luck, Epic will work out the skill-card/interface issues. Once it does, it should have a MOBA hit on its hands.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cultivating a friendly multiplayer environment. How do you treat other players? How do you want them to treat you?
Discuss setting a reasonable limit for in-game purchases. How much is acceptable to spend on a single game? Should you spend a lot for the optional extras?
Think about the kind of online reputation you'd like to have. Is it more important to be a great player or a good sport?
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