Since my WoW account was offline the last month, my friends and I revisited a game called League of Legends, also known affectionately as LoL. LoL is a free game - and when I say free, I mean FREE. Not pay to win, as so many free games are these days. LoL is legitimately, 100% free. You can pay for special cosmetic skins for your champions, or to unlock features more quickly, but there is no significant disadvantage in NOT paying.
So what is LoL? In short, it’s a team based PvP e-sport in which you combine macro and micro game elements to destroy your opponent’s base before they destroy yours. But there’s a LOT more to the game than this simple summary. If you've played DotA (a mod for Warcraft III), then you've played LoL. LoL is made by the same folks who created DotA. You control a single character (a champion), and team up with two to four other people in a team contest to destroy the opponent's base. Your character begins each game at level 1 and can advance up to level 18 by gaining experience through killing minions, creeps, and other champions.
|The most popular map, for five |
player teams, called Summoner's Rift
|The shop, where you can purchase items|
This introduces what is known as the macro game - how to build your character, in gear and in the order of the abilities you unlock. There are a wide range of items available, and there are many guides on exactly what items to get for each character. Often the best choices will change based on your team and the opponent’s team.
|Ashe sets her sights on Teemo|
|Tower pushing can be dangerous!|
|Nunu's ult makes for an |
interesting team fight.
Outside of games, your player (known as a summoner) has a level as well. This level ranges from 1 to 30, and increases the more games that you play. This level determines how many mastery points (think talent points from WoW) that you have to spend, and what rune slots (think glyphs in WoW) you have available. It also determines what summoner spells you can use - you have two spells which you chose at the beginning of each game, which act as extra utility and customizability for your character. This level-based mechanic gives high level summoners a mechanical advantage, in addition to their experience advantage. In general, when using the matchmaking service, you’ll be placed with summoners of similar levels.
As a whole, LoL is very enjoyable to play even without knowing your teammates. However, it really shines when the entire team is coordinating in a voice program such as Skype or Ventrilo, and has arranged their champions and skills to compliment eachother. There are a huge number of champions, builds, items, and spells available, and more being added constantly. Additionally, Riot (the makers of LoL) just announced a brand new game mode which will be playable at PAX Prime later this month. I’m extremely excited about this, and will report my reactions to this game mode here on the blog when I play it at PAX.
I can’t recommend LoL enough. If you want to jump in and get your feet wet, I suggest trying a game against bots (computer opponents) first before going up against other players. Riot has really improved the AI on the bots, but they are still much easier than real opponents, even newbies. Just pick a champion that seems interesting to you out of the free champions, look up a build on Leaguecraft (or use the recommended items that Riot provides for you in game!), and get started! The free champions change every week, but if you find one you like, you can use the points you earn playing each game to purchase them (that’s right, you do NOT need to use real money, though you can if you want to get champions more quickly).
Hopefully you’ll try it out! I’m still quite a League of Legends newbie, but I’m enjoying it quite a lot and may write some character specific guides later on if the fancy strikes me. If you play, be sure to look me up and request a game! I go by Jiyambi, as always.