Summon your most powerful champion and help your team to victory.
Turn back the clock a few years and you will come across a very popular mod for the RTS game, Warcraft III. Defence of the Ancients was its name and it is still very popular today. The mod pitted teams of heroes against each other across a map, with the objective to destroy the oppositions Ancients, heavily guarded structures deep within the opponents side of the map.
Jump back forward to the present day, and you will see a couple of big games circulating that call themselves “the successor to DotA”. One of these games is League of Legends, which is available to play for free on the PC. League of Legends is funded by microtransactions, as seems to be the trend nowadays, although there is a boxed version of the game to be made available, which will include a credit voucher for the in game store.
The games concept is reasonably simple. You are a summoner and you can summon a hero from a wide selection, to travel across a map, along with other summoners heroes, to destroy the opposing teams base. This surprisingly simple concept hides what is actually a rather complex game. The game falls into the MOBA genre, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. But for those who have never experienced this genre before, you could call the game a MMO strategy RPG, as it has all of these elements in it. The MMO element comes from the fact that the game is played online with other players, that are split into two teams. The strategic side of things boils down to the choices that you make within the game, such as how to level up your character and what to buy in the game, to give your hero different skills etc.
The RPG component comes from the fact that, as a summoner, you actually earn experience and can learn skills to help you during a match. It should be stated that the hero that you decide to summon and use in a match, is wiped clean of any levels after the match is complete.
After choosing your hero for the match, he will begin at your teams base. The map is quite simple and provides a number of distinct paths from your base to the oppositions base. Along these routes, there will be turrets that have to be destroyed (or you will die). Your chosen champion is far to valuable to waste on trying to take down these turrets, and that’s where the minions come in. Each team will have a seemingly infinite number of minions that will spawn near the base and head along the paths to destroy the turrets (or opposing champions). But remember that the other team also has minions that are hell bent on destroying you and your turrets.
I am sure that it will come as no surprise to hear that I have never played DotA myself. Although I was a huge fan of Warcraft 3, for some reason this mod never came to my attention. So, with no prior knowledge of this genre, I must admit to being rather confused when I started the game up. The first thing I had to get my head around was the menu system, which frankly is not that clear. From the main interface, there are a number of options. Hitting the Play button will take you to the game options screen, Quick Start will start a game using the last game settings you used. At the time of writing this review, the store was unavailable. You can view your summoner profile from here, and also see your total Riot and Influence points. These were also unavailable at the time of writing, but Riot points need to be purchased with cash and can be used for buying skins and runes, whereas Influence is earned in game and can be exchanged for new runes and champions.
As a summoner, you will gather up runes. These may be applied in order to give yourÂ champion a bonus during the match, such as extra strength or increased chance of critical strikes. These can be managed from within the summoners profile. As your summoner levels up, he will gain mastery points that can be spent on purchasing certain skills for your summoner. These come in three classes, Offence, Defence and Utility. These skills are another way to improve your champions. Finally, there are spells. As a summoner, you can learn spells and will gain new spells as you level up. However, you can only take two spells into battle with you, and the spells you choose can have a dramatic effect on the game, so choose carefully.
Playing a match, you can choose from normal or ranked (also unavailable atm), or you can try a practice game, with others or with bots (this is especially handy for the first few times you play. My first time I jumped straight into a match with others, and whilst very enjoyable, my teammates were unimpressed with my efforts. Someone even mentioned that I was perhaps secretly working for the opposition). Your champion will spawn deep within your teams territory. Attacking minions, turrets and opposing champions is a simple matter of clicking on them. Special powers etc are used exactly the same way, which means that the interface within the game is very simple and easy to pick up. What is mor difficult to learn are the tactics. Watching other experienced players will quickly show where you are going wrong, and newcomers to this type of game will go wrong. As your champion levels up during the match, he will earn new skills or improve the skills he has. You will also earn cash that can be spent in the store next to the spawning pool, on items to further improve your hero. The store can be a bit daunting at first, but the game makes helpful suggestions to help you make decisions.
Players of DotA will certainly flourish in this game. However, newcomers may well find the game a bit of an uphill struggle. This is not helped by the slightly confusing menu (do some reading first, it helps) and the feeling of letting down your team by being inexperienced. But, I have to say, the first match I played lasted just over an hour and it was one of the most exhilarating hours I have spent in a long time. The game is very much “back and forth”, with each team taking it in turns to gain the advantage. Even with me playing badly, the outcome of the match was unclear until near the very end (we won!). Ignoring the menu problems and being dropped in at the deep end, LoL is all about the gameplay, and in that area the game really excels.
Players of DotA have probably been playing this game for a while now, or at least been following its progress. If you have not heard of DotA, but fancy a game that can be played with others, has a tactical edge and really gets the adrenaline running, give this a try. Its free, and you can’t argue with that.
This game was provided for review by GamersGate