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Paragon will be totally free-to-play — but not in early access

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Play Epic Games' new MOBA starting March 18

Players will be able to pay for early access to Epic Games' upcoming MOBA Paragon on March 14, and early adopters will be able to jump into the game just four days later on March 18. However, despite the gated access to the game in its beta state, Paragon is bucking the status quo of most of its competitors. Where games like League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Smite feature characters that must be paid for using real money or slowly earned in-game currency, Paragon is taking a page from Valve's Dota 2, making all heroes and gameplay items completely free.

Players will be able to purchase cosmetic items for Paragon's heroes, as well as experience boosts and "convenience items." The game's card and deck system, which takes the place of the item shops found in League of Legends and Dota 2, will also not be subject to paid content.

"Paragon is designed so that all players can compete and win without ever having to spend money," said Paragon creative director Steve Superville. "We're taking this approach because we believe that competitive games need to be fair for all players."

However, until Paragon's official launch later this year, interested players will need to purchase a Founder's Pack to receive unfettered access to the game's beta. Superville said the current early access plan is necessary to test a game that's not quite ready for a broader audience.

"Paragon is still in development," he said. "The game is missing features, and some of the content is placeholder. We don't yet have a lot of features to make it easier to understand for new players, and some systems (for example: cards and deck building) require a lot of patience."

The base Founder's Pack starts at $19.99 and comes with "skins, boosts, and other cosmetic items," with Challenger and Master Packs selling for $59.99 and $99.99 respectively and including even more bonus items and boosts —” and each of which includes an additional Founder's Pack for a friend. Players may also sign up for free access to the Paragon beta, which will launch this summer.