Greatest MOBA Game of All Time Review of League of Legends
By savlat007 | Leave a comment | March 1st, 21:41
Review this game
Inside each team's base also lies an Inhibitor which, if destroyed, causes the opposing team’s side to start spawning super minions. It’s an extra strategic objective to target in the enemy base, and having one more building to take down often leads to exciting and game-ending team fights.
From Ziggs, the bomb-loving little rat, to Jinx, the blue-pigtailed maniac, it’s electrifying to coordinate with your team to mow down your opponents and push lanes with League’s characterful and cartoony Champions. They each have an innate passive ability that helps make them more dynamic without increasing the already-complex management of active abilities. Teemo’s passive Camouflage power, for example, is a great way to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies. Plus, the quirky things they say and their flashy active abilities make the Champions memorable. I can’t help but laugh every time the adorable Lulu says, "Yep! That tasted purple!"
As free-to-play games go, League of Legends is a model of generosity. Though it doesn’t give everything away like Dota 2 does, it serves up a weekly rotating selection of 10 Champions for free, and you can purchase and play with any of the 117-character roster for a reasonable price of between two and eight dollars each. Yes, that adds up to a princely sum if you intend to buy every single character, but there’s no need to buy more than you intend to actually play. The Champion rotation is a nice way to try before you buy, and helped me to pace myself by learning just a few characters at a time.
You can also unlock every Champion at a satisfying rate without spending a penny, which is not only fulfilling, but it sets League apart from the type of free-to-play game that deliberately makes it impractical to play at a competitive level for no cost. Since many players opt for a completely free experience, it’s exciting when the roster changes and pushes the community to try out fresh characters and new strategies.
If you want to go a step further, you can buy cosmetic skins for every character. They can be pricey, but each skin has tons of detail, and it’s impressive that most of them come with unique spell effects and animations. My Panda Annie skin, for example, changes the little pink-haired girl into a mini-geisha of sorts, and her ultimate ability calls down a panda version of her grizzly bear, Tibbers. (Yay, Tibbers!)
In the opening minutes of a match, League's Champions distinguish themselves with lots of low-level area-of-effect abilities that make killing minions quick and easy. Unlike some other MOBAs, there's no way to attack your own minions to deprive your enemy the experience and gold, making it simpler to focus on other tasks, like getting last hits. The absence of those “denial” tactics definitely takes a competitive aspect away from League, but it's one that's often frustrating. I don’t miss it. Relative to other MOBAs where management of special-ability juice (magic points, in this case) is key, I also enjoy how often abilities are available for use in League. It’s awesome being able to constantly harass opponents with spells rather than having to worry about conserving them all for one crucial moment. But that doesn’t mean abilities don’t matter. Some of the strongest attacks are skill shots (projectiles requiring precise manual aim), and failing to hit your target can have catastrophic, game-changing consequences in team fights. From simple slows to huge Super Mega Death Rockets that travel across the whole map, snagging enemies with these moves while dodging theirs is a giddy thrill. The importance League of Legends places on these skill shots helps set its style of action apart.
You don’t lose any money when you die in League, making it easier to save up for new weapons and armor in the item shop. The item selection is decent, but most players always seem to rely on you to build your character using expected items, like The Bloodthirster or Rabadon's Deathcap. Straying from the recommended builds doesn't make you useless, but some of these might as well be called required items instead of recommended, considering their power. On the bright side, this means spending less time shopping and more time playing. Also, the recent addition of a variety of Support items, like The Frost Queen’s Claim and Talisman of Ascension which grant passive gold, are a good move in the right direction for diversifying builds.
It might be easier to coordinate unusual item builds if League had built-in voice chat. Unless you’ve set up a TeamSpeak/Ventrilo/Mumble/Skype/etc call with your pre-arranged team before joining a game, the only ways to communicate are via text, which often goes unnoticed, or through four alerts to indicate danger, on my way, missing, or assist me. Nothing sucks more than watching a crucial surprise attack slip through my fingers because a teammate was too busy to see me pinging. At least when your team falls so hopelessly behind 20 minutes into a 40-ish minute match that four of five teammates agree it’s all over, the handy surrender option prevents you from wasting time fighting a losing battle.
Win or lose, earning both experience and Influence Points (IP) to unlock and customize Champions is rewarding. Building up my persistent profile (called a Summoner profile) outside a match was good motivation to keep playing, as along the way to the max level of 30 you'll unlock crucial Summoner spells to use in game. Flash, for example, teleports you a short distance, sometimes giving you just enough range to strike or dodge a killing blow. Deciding which two to take into each match adds an interesting extra strategic layer, and their long cooldown timers make it tough to be sure when someone will have extra tricks up their sleeve.
Each level-up also unlocks Masteries, which are free points to spend on specific bonuses from offensive, defensive, and utility trees. But considering there are obvious choices for how you should spend them when you’re playing each role, this system feels redundant. Likewise, you can also use IP to purchase Runes that enhance a Champion’s stats, but this never amounts to much. The illusion of progression is nice, but games still almost always come down to player skill rather than a few extra stats.
Where League of Legends really shines is on the competitive level. Once you reach level 30 (which took me about 160 wins), as long as you have 16 Champs earned or bought and have played some placement matches, you can compete in Ranked play with the most serious players. The fantastic ladder system ensures you’ll play against people on the same skill level (until periodic resets, and the process begins anew). Making your way up the ranks is a serious achievement, and knowing that ladder points are on the line makes the competition in every match even more fierce.
At the other end of the spectrum, League’s excellent tutorial is gentle way to ease into MOBA mechanics, and its AI bot players give a judgement-free way of learning to play new characters. One major feature that’s missing, though, is a means of watching match replays to better learn from mistakes. Considering they're a great training tool in other MOBAs and competitive games of all genres, it's a shame they aren't included.
When you need a break from Summoner’s Rift, there are other, faster-paced modes to choose from. Dominion and All Random All Mid (ARAM) are both quick, usually lasting about 25 minutes rather than 45 to 60. Using the Champions to sprint around a small map to capture points in Dominion is silly yet competitive, and ARAM forces everyone to use a random Champion on a one-lane map and is more about catching the other team off guard and pushing your advantage. I had a great time purchasing strange item combinations from the increased amount of gold you get in these modes, and the consistent action-packed brawls are a breath of fresh air relative to the slow and steady gold farming and item building of Summoner's Rift.
While the gameplay is intensely fun and the Champions are fantastic, the main thing holding League of Legends back is its Adobe Air client. With such an incredible visual finesse throughout the entire stylized MOBA, it's unfortunate how dated the slow, buggy client is. The incredibly long load times are nice when you need a drink, but ultimately waiting two minutes before each game gets annoying. You can’t even change your in-game settings before you hop into a match. Updating the client and servers will take some incredible technical prowess, but they’re undoubtedly the weakest links of an otherwise very strong chain.