Gears of War series creator Epic Games has released a free open beta version of its competitive 5v5 MOBA Paragon, giving players an early taste of the action prior to its digital launch later this year.
Announced in 2015, Paragon is a multiplayer online battle arena game designed to compete with genre giants like League of Legends and Smite. Similar to its competitors, Paragon is free to play at a base level, with cosmetic items available as in-game purchases.
Paragon saw an early-access rollout on PCs and the PlayStation 4 earlier this year that required players to pay for entry. Today’s open beta release eases these restrictions, allowing all players to join the fray regardless of whether or not they have purchased previously issued Founder’s Packs, Challenger Packs or Master Packs.
Like competing games in the genre, Paragon pits teams of five players against one another in a series of lane-based, base-capturing battles. Players pick from one of 16 playable heroes, filling the ranks as tanks, assassins, rangers, casters, and support classes for the duration of each match.
Players in Paragon earn card points from defeating enemies and capturing towers during battle, which can then be redeemed for mid-match health boosts and other effects. Experience and reputation points also play a role in progression, as players need to rack up a number of wins in order to buy card packs that award randomly distributed items.
Though Paragon features paid content, developer Epic Games assures that the final product will not feature “pay-to-win” mechanics that reward wealthy players.
“All Heroes are always free to play,” Epic Games explains. “Paragon is designed so that every player can compete and win without ever spending money. Cards can only be earned by playing the game. Those who would dare reach the highest levels of skill can tackle Master Challenges. As you increase your Hero level, you’ll unlock new card packs, unique taunts, and valuable rewards.”
Paragon is available now as a free download and at retail as the bonus-bundled Paragon: Essentials Edition. A launch date for a feature-complete version is not yet known.