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League of Legends: an Honest Review, 2014
What is League of Legends?
League of Legends, first launched in 2009, is a free-to-play, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) owned by Riot Games, Inc. In it, Players, called “summoners”, control unique and powerful characters—“champions”—and compete in teams to secure and destroy each other’s bases. To do so, they must push their way across the arena, fighting through waves of AI soldiers, enemy turret defenses, and the enemy team members themselves.
Each summoner’s champion has four unique abilities in addition to a standard attack, and each of these (as well as the champion’s base stats) can be “built upon” by purchasing up to six stat-enhancing items from the veritable myriad of items available to players during a match. This gives players lots of room to be creative.
Although destroying the enemy team’s base may seem simple enough, your team’s choice of champions, your team strategy, and each team member’s itemization will determine how easily this goal is realized.
Eventually, players are given the option to play a ranked version of the game—allowing them to see how they match up to other players. If you’re competitive and play for keeps, you’ll probably enjoy this game mode. But ranked mode isn’t for everyone (again, it’s entirely optional), and nobody will hold it against you if you’d rather just play for fun!
Okay, so what will this game cost me?
As I said before, League of Legends is a free-to-play game. At no point are you required to spend money on anything to be successful at playing the game. Riot’s official position on this issue is that no person should be able to buy his way into an unfair advantage over other players. It’s because of this that Riot has a very clever dual-currency system in place.
- Influence Points (IP): All players accrue influence points from playing games. More points are awarded for longer matches and the winning team gets additional IP. This “free currency” can be used to permanently unlock additional champions and purchase stat-altering runes to be used on them. Runes may only be purchased with IP to ensure that no player has an unfair advantage.
- Riot Points (RP): Riot points aren’t gained from playing the game—only via purchase. These points may also be used to unlock champions (though I’d recommend only doing this with the free currency) or purchase a number of extras, such as “skins” for your unlocked champions, additional pages to hold your runes, summoner name changes, and server transfers.
I must say that my experiences with Riot Games have been very positive. At one point, I found myself having been double-charged for an extra that I never ended up receiving. Riot support staff was very helpful and responded to my help request within the hour. This happened at nearly 3:00 am! The issue was resolved very quickly and I received a refund. I can’t say enough good things about Riot’s support staff and how cooperative and helpful they are!
Problems do occur from time to time—the occasional server crash or lag, bugs, etc.—but Riot has pretty good track record of working to fix these issues as soon as possible. Players who have specific problems can contact Riot support at any time to receive helpful fix-it information.
The only times when things get a little rough in the League-o-sphere are around holidays (when Riot is understandably short-staffed) and other days that the server is particularly crowded. Sometimes players may have to wait a bit longer to log in or receive help and might have to put up with intermittent server lag.
What is the League community like?
Over 70 million people have an account on League of Legends, and currently there are over 32 million monthly active players. It’s very hard to cast any single generalization over the entire community simply because it is so massive.
While some people hold very negative views of the League community, I find such views to be very unfair and largely exaggerated. Are there trolls, game-leavers, overly-competitive and rude players? Of course—no game community is without them. However, there are also some real gems out there, too! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them! Stay gold, guys!
I’ve been playing League of Legends for well over a year now, and it’s my experience that if you are friendly and respectful of others, others will tend to be as well. Sure, there will be encounters with…unsavory players, but these hardly represent the majority.
Fortunately for players, League has a built-in justice system. Players who don’t follow the community rules for conduct can be reported, eventually leading to a warning, ban, or their permanent removal from the game. You may also choose to mute these players during in-game chat or use the “ignore” feature to avoid getting re-teamed with them in the future.
View the League of Legends Official Trailer (2013)
What can I expect as a new player?
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: League of Legends is not an easy game to figure out right away—especially if you don’t have prior experience with MOBA-style games. It will definitely take some time to become familiar with champion play-styles, items, etc. Don’t feel bad if the game seems a bit overwhelming at first—it’s a lot to take in all at once! Almost everyone who plays League felt the same way at some point or another. It gets better and much easier to understand as you get more experience, though, I promise!
As a new player, you will only be able to play against AIs for your first few matches. This will give you the chance to figure out some of the basic mechanics of the game before playing against other live players. Tutorial game modes are also available.
League of Legends tries to match players with others who are at approximately the same skill level—this way you won’t struggle against experienced players. Of course, there are a few ways to abuse this system, so don’t be discouraged if you encounter someone who seems to be far above your skill level: that person is likely an experienced player who is “smurfing” on a low-level account.
After a few games, your skill level will have been assessed and the match-making system will prioritize players of similar skill to match with you. The hidden skill value assigned to you will increase as you get better.
If you enjoy teamwork-based strategy games and don’t mind taking some time to figure this one out, I think there’s a good chance you’ll really enjoy League of Legends!
Best of luck on the Fields of Justice!
© 2014 TwerkZerker