The latest Inquisition craze is League of Legends (LoL), a F2P game from the makes of the extremely popular Defense of the Ancients map for Warcraft 3. LoL is in many ways DotA 2.0, build from the ground up to support this style of game vs trying to twist the Warcraft 3 engine around to make things work. In addition to the better overall support thanks to the engine, the game itself has many tweaks aimed at make the game an overall better DotA experience. A more complete list of changes for DotA players can be found here.
There are a few standout features that I’ve picked up on so far that make LoL very enjoyable. The first, and most important to me, is the average length of a match. In DotA this ranged between 45min to well over an hour, while in LoL the average game takes 20-30 minutes, and rarely have I seen a game go longer than 40. This is important for two reasons: the first being that committing up to an hour straight can be difficult at times (you can’t pause or take a break), and the second being that if you have a poor game, its not much fun to play only one and then be out of time. With LoL faster games, it’s both easier to get one in and also easier to play a good number of games in one night and feel satisfied.
Another great thing about LoL is the online support. Buddy lists, auto matchmaking, stat tracking; all of the things most professional multiplayer titles have had for years has finally come to a DotA-style game, and it really makes the overall experience shine. Gone are the worries of who hosts, ping checks, bot commands, etc, leaving you to just focus on playing and getting better.
Finally there are the RPG-ish aspects of leveling up, buying minor stat upgrades, and filling out a talent tree. Until you hit the lvl 30 cap, this can of course put you at a technical disadvantage against other players, but once everyone is 30 this will only expend the depth of the game and the possible premade team configurations. It’s also a nice system to reward the winning side with more than just bragging rights. And as someone who, as a level 7, played against a team full of level 30s and won, the overall impact this system has on the game is nothing good teamwork and player skill can’t overcome. LoL is also overall less item dependant than DotA, which not only means one ‘carry’ can’t completely dominate the whole game, but that each team battle is usually more about how well you play together than the sum of all your items. Matches generally go back and forth rather than being decided in one battle.
As mentioned above, the game is F2P, which means cash shop, point bundles, and all the rest. Fortunately the cash shop here does not allow you to buy power, but rather a selection of fluff items (hero skins), ‘skip-to-the-end’ stuff (XP boosts), or additional options (permanently having access to a hero). The last part is important, because every week 8 different heroes are publicly available to everyone, while the rest are locked away and only available to those who have purchased them. The really nice part about this setup is that if you focus on a few heroes, you can easily buy them using the points you earn while playing the game, while someone who wants access to a lot of heroes (with different skins) can pay up and get it. I’m all for this type of payment model, as it means I can play for free and remain on equal footing with everyone else, while also not feeling harshly limited by not paying. And since overall the prices are reasonable (no $25 skins here) and the base game is free, I doubt I’ll feel bad about spending $10-$20 to support a solid effort should something catch my eye.
Definitely an enjoyable game, and being a reasonably sized download and free, it’s hard to not recommend it to anyone looking to get back into a DotA-style game or to anyone who enjoys some quality team-based RTS-ish action. If you are interested, feel free to use my referral link, which could net me some in-game fluff.
Chuck-o-the-day: Chuck Norris did not have childhood heroes, only competition.