League of Legends is an online team based strategy role playing game by Riot Games. Coming with only two game modes and three arenas, can this free to play keep your attention amongst the highly competitive MMO market?
League of Legends is extremely easy to learn, you are given a very helpful tutorial when you first load the game up, which can be replayed via the game menu at any time. You begin each match by choosing a champion and teaming up with four other players. Your goal is to destroy the enemies main hub, known as the Nexus. This is all fine and dandy until you realize the lanes to the nexus have incredibly powerful turrets blocking the path, each able to kill you in a moments notice. Fear not, this is where the minions come into play. Every few seconds a wave of minions is unleashed from your base and traverse the lanes to the enemy nexus. Turrets will attack minions before you, so this gives you time to attack the turret. But wait! The enemy base also releases minions. It is up to you to aid your little helpers in killing the enemy minions in order to reach the turret and advance down the lane. But once again, there is a problem. Minions pose no threat to you, however enemy champions do. As you might expect, they are trying to do exactly the same thing you are doing, and this will lead to brawls between champions to gain dominance of a lane. As I said, these are very basic things that anyone can pick up and play. But as with many things, it is easy to learn but difficult to master.
League of Legends has over 50 unique champions to pick from, each having a unique set of skills. Every champion has a passive skill, three basic skills and an ultimate. The beauty of it all is that despite having so many playable champions, they are all perfectly balanced with no single champion being better than another. Your champion will determine your play style. For example, the super fast and nimble Teemo is a perfect for laying down an ambush, preferring to hide in the bushes and leap out and assassinate enemy champions when they least expect it, whilst Cho-Garth, a gigantic killer monstrosity from the void, is more suited to ripping out spines and feasting on flesh…literally. As your chosen champion kills minions, monsters, enemy champions and turrets you gain gold and level up. Gold is used to purchase items to increase your stats and grant new abilities. Leveling up lets you increase the power of your abilities and increases your stats slightly. You can carry up to 6 items at a time, and items are incredibly powerful. The sheer number of items available is daunting, but luckily the game does have a handy recommended items section, allowing for new players to quickly get items that will directly enhance there character. As you get more experienced, you will quickly shun this section and create your own builds to suit your own play style.
At the end of each game you are granted experience points and influence points. These are vital to your success. Whilst in a game, experience levels up your champion to a level cap of 18, once the game ends his level is reset. To make up for this, experience points are given to permanently level up your account. These allow you to grant Mastery’s to all champions giving you boosts in games that can influence your play style greatly. Influence points are currency, used to buy new champions and more importantly buy runes. Runes are allow you to tweak your character on a micro level, increasing stats by tiny percentages to give you an edge. The higher your profile level, the more runes you can equip and the more Mastery’s you can invest in, resulting the greater the benefit over a long period of time. In short, Whilst items will have a more immediate effect on your power in game, they are only temporary. Mastery’s and Runes allow you to have immense control over how you want your character to play, letting you mold champions around your play style. You can spend just as much time in a game as you can tweaking your build. It is a very deep system that is not exactly newb friendly, but once you grasp it, it is certainly a major part of the addiction.
Graphically, League of Legends is a corker. Despite being four years old, the game has a very pleasing art style that portrays a beautiful world, full of color and whimsy. Special mention goes to the concept art, which is brilliant and brings each character to life. Due to the simplicity of the graphics, just about any computer can run League of Legends without any sign of slow down.
The sound design is acceptable at best, with the music that plays being forgettable and the dialogue, whilst uncommon, is just background noise for the most part. Sound effects are great however, with characters like Fiddlesticks almost removing your soul with each attack, and Morgana tainting the very earth and causing disease and rot.
Despite the games depth, it is lacking in modes and arenas. You have Classic, which is what I mentioned earlier, and Dominion. Your average game of Classic can last 40-60 minutes, which is a long time to play a single game. Dominion lasts around about 20 minutes. In it, you are supposed to capture points on the level, whilst they attempt the same thing. It is a nice change of pace, but in my opinion it is nowhere near as engrossing as Classic, and unfortunately only has a single arena to play on. Classic has two arenas, one for 5 v 5 play and another for 3 v 3. Again, 3 v 3 is the shorter game, but is nowhere near as good 5 v 5 which means you will spend most of your time playing the same arena over and over again. This as you might guess, gets repetitive.
You will be forgiven for assuming that League of Legends follows the standard free to play formula, where the size of your wallet makes up for skill. You can optionally spend money to obtain Riot Points, these allow you to buy champions and alternate skins. What you can not do however is buy Runes. Considering cosmetic changes have no effect on gameplay and champions can be bought with Influence Points, you never have to spend a penny on the game, and you will have full access and will not be hindered.
Finally, Riot is constantly working on improving the game. They are planning new game modes and they add new champions to their already massive roster every month.
Overall, League of Legends is a fantastic game. It is immensely addictive, and surprisingly deep. Whilst it has its flaws, such as repetition and its steep learning curve, it is well worth the effort to learn the game. Considering the game is completely free, you are getting a lot of game for its imaginary price tag. Definitely worth a look.