I’d like to begin this instalment with a short visual presentation:
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a ‘week’, today marks the last day of my initial run with League of Legends. How did I spend it? Improving.
Kayle has pretty much become my go-to gal, as I continue to excel in PvP matches. Of the two I played tonight, the first was without a doubt my finest hour in the League.
Or should I say, my finest twenty-nine minutes.
My quickest match yet also happened to be my best, as I finished with a record 9 kills and just 2 deaths, with an unbroken 6-kill spree in the first half. I don’t know if it was because the other team was struggling, or if I got lucky, or if I was genuinely getting better. But nothing was knocking me down. I haven’t smiled so gleefully since…well, actually, since seeing The Avengers* last Saturday. You get the idea.
I’ve pretty much spent the last two posts retelling my experience with the game, much like my flatmate would to me before I started playing. What I want to wrap things up on is what makes League of Legends special.
Personally, this is like no other multiplayer game I’ve played. But it does resemble another RPG I hold in high regard, and that is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. For the first few hours, I wondered how you were supposed to have fun with this game, constantly right-clicking on enemies and cycling through perplexing abilities as I waited for my character to finish chopping up droids. But then I had some kind of ‘eureka’ moment where my mind suddenly grasped what I was playing and I got sucked in so far, I even forgot I was playing a Star Wars game. It ended up immersing me in Lucas’ world more than the films. Yeah, all six of them.
League of Legends is like playing Knights of the Old Republic at an accelerated rate. The sense of progression, the growth of your character in strength (not so much morality, though I guess it’s only a matter of time before we see a Paragon/Renegade meter in a multiplayer game) and the point-and-click combat which, on the surface, looks simplistic, but reveals itself to be just as much about timing and reflexes as any action game. All condensed into a forty minute match.
League of Legends brings back good memories of Knights of the Old Republic.
I know other games like LoL exist but this just feels so refreshing. Going back to the growth of your champion over the course of the match, I personally think the minions are a genius feature. Fighting them and the champions simultaneously provides a good balance of gratification. You can cut the minions to ribbons no problem, especially late into the match, which provides a warm feeling of empowerment throughout. But then there are the moments when you take down a champion, which is almost always a hard-fought battle. The sense of accomplishment in these instances is massive but the trade-off is the frustration of when you don’t come out on top. Fighting the champions and the champions alone would make LoL a tenser game, for sure, but it would be blighted significantly by the ever-increasing wait to get back into the action once you’d been slain.
That’s what’s great about the minions, they’re a go-to source for instant gratification. If you keep falling to enemy champions, go take your frustration out on some minions, they’re hardly going to put up much of a fight. Furthermore, they serve as a great aid for new players. If there’s one thing I’ve proven, it’s that you don’t even have to engage enemy champions to do your part in winning the match. It helps, but you’ll be sat there a while if you leave the minions to destroy the enemy turrets by themselves. Plus, so long as you have them to protect you, the enemy probably won’t engage as you often. They’re like training wheels on a bike, easing you into the experience.
And that, I believe, is the hook. League of Legends just works. It doesn’t set a new standard for content or presentation in free-to-play games…oh, I said I would talk about graphics, didn’t I? OK, quick summary, there’s nothing remarkable about LoL’s visuals. In fact, it’s on the level of a really, really nice-looking PS2 game. It does run at a smooth pace, however. On my fairly par PC, it was pretty much locked at 45 frames per second, outside of massive scuffles. It has a colourful art style, which is distinctive enough, but there’s really not that much detail to speak of. Difficult to tell, anyway, with that camera angle.
Anyway, as I was saying, LoL doesn’t set any new standards for the type of game it is but all its mechanics and concepts come together to form a game that just clicks. The lack of maps turns me off a bit but I’ve come to realise that given the game’s mechanics, you surely can’t shake up the Summoner’s Rift formula that much to warrant a completely different map. Some champions have fairly unbalanced powers (the biggest culprits I found being Garen’s minute-long pirouette and Master Yi’s super speed) but if you learn the ins and outs of your own champion, you’ll find you can overcome them.
Other than that, I really don’t have that much beef with League of Legends. I wouldn’t say it’s convinced me to explore the genre, though, which I find kind of surprising given how much I’ve praised its gameplay. It hasn’t convinced me to spend more game time with my PC either. Some things are just hard-wired.
But what it has done is convinced me to keep playing, which I definitely did not see coming. I like League of Legends. I’ve had fun with it. I hope to continue having fun with it (for how long is another matter). So I guess what you should take away from this, is that you should keep an open mind. Don’t feel pressured to (dis)like anything. Step outside your comfort zone every once in a while and you might find something you’ve been missing out on for way too long.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dole out a little Righteous Fury.