League of Legends gameplay is deceptively simple. For the most basic mode and map, there are two bases on each side, three lanes which connect them, and turrets scattered throughout. At the heart of each base sits the Nexus, which is what you will need to destroy in order to win. You and four of your closest friends (or more likely four people you know only by their ridiculous handles) square off against five other Champions in a fight to the death(s). That’s basically it. However, League is very much a game of “oh, there’s also this other thing.” For instance, “jungling” isn’t something you learn in basic training. This describes going off the lanes into, well, the jungle, and killing various enemies in order to gain their powers. There’s also quite a bit more strategy involved than seen at first glance, especially when dealing with different Champions, but more on that later.
Riot, the studio responsible for League, is constantly patching the game. Updates with new Champions, new skins, and bug fixes come pretty frequently. Add that to some great customer support, and you’ve got quite the force to be reckoned with. At the beginning of September, Riot was forced to drop support for the Macintosh Beta – this was not very well received. Players across the globe, myself included, flooded Riot’s inboxes with outrage. A few days later, Riot sent out an email to all of its players; any Summoner who’s had a majority of their log-ins come from a Mac computer will either receive a full refund for any money spent on Riot points, or a free Champions Pack. Though this did not quash the problem, it was a show of good faith from Riot to its Mac users, with the promise of a full Mac release in the future.
Though your objective through each round remains the same, the variety in gameplay is astounding, depending on which Champion you choose. There are three main categories you can pick from, with many sub-categories after that: tank, carry, or caster. Your tanks are going to be just that, tanks. Very hard to kill, and average attack strength. A carry is going to be very “squishy,” that is, he will have pretty low health, but incredible attack stats. And of course, a caster is going to be heavy on magic, and can vary on the other categories. What makes this game so outstanding is how your knowledge of each Champion (and their specific abilities) will affect your entire play experience. My favorite Champion to play currently is Miss Fortune, a ranged carry with a couple of absolutely killer abilities. She has low health but packs a real punch, so my job is to harass other players from outside of direct battle, and to secure the kill once it’s down to the wire. For me, knowing the tells for when other Champions are about to unleash hell is hugely important so I can haul tail out of the way.
4. It’s free
No, no typo. League of Legends is completely free to play, and they host a link to the download right on the site. Now, to say that you won’t spend money on this game is a outright lie – I swore I’d never pay for a free game, but I’ve long since broken that promise. Like any free-to-play game, there are two types of currency used in the store: the kind you earn by playing well and playing often, and then there’s the kind you get in exchange for your money. So, many times it comes down to, “how much do I want that Champion, and how long am I willing to wait for it?” However, remembering that it’s going to help support an awesome game and developer takes a little of the bite out of handing over the cash. A little.
So really, what we’ve learned here today is that if you’re not already playing League, you should be. You have literally nothing to lose in trying, and once you do, you’ll be hooked like the rest of us. And for any new players out there that would like some help, a battle buddy, or an arch nemesis, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to give you my handle and play a few games.
See you on the Fields of Justice, Summoners.