A Look into League of Legends
By Frank Hartnett on August 9th, 2012 (8 comments)
League of Legends is a game developed by Riot that fits under the genre of MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. The game has been out of beta for nearly three years now and has quickly skyrocketed in popularity to become the most played PC game in the world as players have logged in over one billion hours of play this past year. But what exactly is League of Legends and what draws so many players to the game?
Well, for those unfamiliar with the genre, LoL is essentially a lane defense game that was popularized by DotA during the days of Warcraft III. There are two teams of three or five, depending on the map, and the players select a champion from a roster of over 100 characters to play as; about 10 of whom are free to play each week. Basically, each lane has a series of turrets that lead to each team's base and the ultimate goal is to destroy the towers of the opposing team while protecting yours and destroy the enemy Nexus. To aid you there are waves of NPCs that spawn in each lane known as "creeps" that will fight any enemy that crosses their linear pathing. These creeps also serve to generate gold for your champion should you land the killing blow on one. Earning kills on creeps or other players will also grant exp. to your champion. Each level gained will allow you to access and strengthen one of the champion's four abilities until you reach level 18. There are also various objectives strewn throughout each map that can give you extra gold income or a temporary buff that will make fighting your enemies easier. While each team is split up initially to their respective lanes, all players will have to eventually group up and fight as a team in order to have any chances of victory.
Those are the basics of the game itself; however, Riot also threw in some bells and whistles to make things more interesting. To start, the player is known as a Summoner and each Summoner has a level associated with them. You start out at level 1 and as you play matches, win or lose, you will gain experience points and level up to the cap of 30. Gaining higher Summoner levels gives you access to more utilities and boosts that can be used for your champions in the actual game. Summoner spells are special abilities the player can choose to use, up to a max of two, that have a wide range of uses like a short range teleport, temporary speed boost, or an attack that ticks away at enemy health. Runes are items that can be purchased that boost the base stats of your champion in game. As you level, the player is able to add more runes to their pages and will have access to the next tier of runes every 10 summoner levels. And finally we have the Mastery Page which is essentially a skill tree divided up into offense, defense, and utility that also boost the base stats of the champions. Each time you gain a summoner level, you are granted one point to place on the Mastery Page however you wish until you have gained all 30 points.
Yes, I did say purchase earlier. As LoL is a free-to-play game there is a cash shop which has items listed for Riot Points that you can buy with real money. This is not a pay to win game; though, so Riot Points are only used to buy new looks for your champions, buy champions themselves, or gain exp boosts for your summoner level. The other form of currency is Influence Points which are gained simply by playing the game and completing matches. Influence points are what a player uses to buy runes or purchase champions should they not wish to spend real cash. This basically boils down to: just about everything in the game is free to obtain should you put time into it; the only things requiring real money are new appearances and exp boosts.
As for game types, this is where LoL falls short. The 5v5, 3v3, Dominion and Aram game types all only have one map apiece making the only dynamic element about the game the players themselves. Fortunately, LoL does have some variety from the typical MOBA style. 5v5 and 3v3 are just normal lane defense maps, but the Aram game type mixes this up by only having a single lane for teams to fight on and it makes the players choose a champion at complete random. This does mean matches can be horribly one-sided, but it still allows for fun should everyone be a good sport about it. Dominion is a circular shaped map with 5 capture points placed along the sides of the map. Each point, when captured, will fire upon the enemy's base and slowly deal damage to it. Each team must capture and hold enough points long enough to destroy the enemy base. Again, teams can be one-sided, but will still allow for fun should a player grow tired of the usual team death match.
Community Centered or Self-Centered Community?
LoL's biggest downfall does have to be the player base. Sadly, this isn't the first online game to be free of jack asses and people who take the game way too seriously. As with any online game, there will be players who are complete jerks for no reason, will throw out obscenities and slurs at the drop of a hat, and will rage quit matches. The rage quitting does pretty much stop once you reach Summoner level 28 or so, but that still requires players to potentially work together with complete asses to get there. If you are someone looking to get into LoL, see if you have any friends who already play or get them to play alongside you. This game is more enjoyable when you can play with people you know won't complain or rage at you. If you happen to find yourself without any people to play with that you know, try some bot matches to get the hang of the game without the pressure of other players breathing down your neck. Oh, and there is an ignore feature, so you can always silence those annoying people forever and then report them for misconduct.
League of Legends is an easily accessible game that does take a bit of time to get used to, but really picks up speed once you get the hang of everything. With its addictive gameplay, roster of over 100 playable characters, biweekly updates and champion releases, and a free to play model that keeps players on an even field, it is easy to see why Riot and LoL have shot up in popularity. I would definitely give this game a recommendation to anyone with a halfway decent computer; just don't go in expecting sunshine and lollipops from most of the player base. Oh, and my Summoner name is Onasi. *hint hint*
And if you don't give the game a try, you'll make Amumu, the sad Mummy, cry.
Frank (Seisan) is a blog contributor and chat moderator over at 4Player. He specializes in analyzing the story telling, immersion, and consistency aspects of video games and also enjoys writing Fiction in his spare time. His favorite genres are RPGs, MMOs, and RTS'. Frank also specializes in having a chat name no one can pronounce correctly; nicknamed Seesaw as a result.
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