Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 26, 2011
League of Legends

As I don't play real-time strategy games all that often, I never played the Defense of the Ancients map of Warcraft III, nor any of the DotA-like games that were based on it. But having already been surprised this year against expectations how much I like World of Tanks (which isn't a Dota game, but still has arena PvP combat), I decided to give the most successful Dota-game a try: League of Legends.

I am not going to give a description or review of League of Legends, but only my personal impressions and experiences. The first thing that struck me was that I had to wait in a login queue for 5 minutes on my very first login. Given that League of Legends is 2 years old by now, I would have expected them having sufficient hardware and bandwidth by now. Once in the game I was offered a single-player tutorial which explained the basics of the game to me. After that I was encouraged to first try a battle with 4 fellow players against AI bots. Very good new player experience, I must say. World of Tanks is missing that, but somehow I doubt you could program an AI that is playing World of Tanks well. The LoL bots were playing very good, out of 3 games against the AI the bots even won one (okay, helped by one player disconnecting, but still). I bought my first champion with the influence points I earned in these battles, but that is about how far I got yet.

I doubt I will play a lot of League of Legends, or spend any money on that game. There are several things about the game I don't like: Combat is relatively twitchy, but battles are much longer than I would like. But what is probably the deciding factor is that I don't like pet classes in MMORPGs: In League of Legends the brunt of the work is done by AI-controlled minions mindlessly running down the three lanes, and the players always need to stay behind those minions. That is something I find really annoying. You spend half of the battle running away or teleporting back to your base to heal, waiting for the next group of minions behind which you can hide. I don't feel I have enough freedom of action in such a game.

Well, lots of people tell me that popular isn't the same as good for games. It follows that even if a game is good, not everybody has to like it. I don't like League of Legends. I'll play a few battles more to see various maps and aspects of the game, but then I most likely will uninstall the game again.
Glad to see you trying your hand at different types of games. :)

As for your log-in queue, that must have been an unfortunate coincidence. I pretty much only ever experience those in LoL right after a downtime when they deliberately throttle the amount of people they let in.

If faster games (and less hiding behind minions) are what you are interested in, I'd urge you to try the upcoming new game type Dominion. (Which is currently available for testing from time to time but should roll out soon(TM).)

The games are much faster, require little to no farming and minions are more of an inconvenience than an actual key element of the game. Dominion works along the lines of Arathi Basin or shooter equivalents of such point control maps - complete with health packs and quad damage.

I personally took a liking to the traditional game, but it is definitely one of accumulated advantages and rather slow.
Some notes:

LoL is VERY twitchy. I think you could have a fair amount of fun playing against the AI, but the style of game itself is one that highly favors having a high clicks per minute.

Actual battles against players go a LOT faster though generally. There is much less farming a lot more concentrated pushes and counterpushes. Being able to leverage your entire team constantly allows you to cut through the minions and towers very, very quickly.

That being said, a common problem newer players have IS being too safe and farming for too long. By midgame, levels 6-12, minions matter less and less and you are strong enough to tower dive if needed to get kills.

If you want to give the game a good shot but want to minimize twichiness, you CAN stick to support heros. Heros like Soraka, Taric, Zilean, etc can be fun if you don't mind not being the star of the show.
There are other games in the MOBA genre which have changed the DotA model somewhat - I think Bloodline Champions, for instance, doesn't have the laning phase which you found boring. :)
I think it is important to note that LoL is currently beta-ing a new gamemode, and the massive (re)influx of players is what is causing the queues - in the few weeks I had been playing LoL leading up to the Dominion beta, I had never experienced a queue, apart from immediately after a patch/downtime.

Staying behind minions is only really true in the first 'phase' of the game. Regrettably, in the VS AI games, this phase never ends - the bots are not bright enough, and the people who play VS AI past the 'beginner' stage are not aggressive enough for the games to be anything but prolonged farming sessions.

If you were interested in continuing LoL, it would be worth looking up the jungle/roaming 'role' - Instead of spending time in lane at the start, they push to level on neutral mobs, and focus on jumping overextended enemies in their lanes.

But really, the PvP games in LoL are substantially different from the PvE games. The PvE games are a fantastic introduction, but there is just more going on in a 'normal' game than there is in a PvE.

The only big flaw in LoL is the community.
Popular isn't the same as good for anything! If it was, the two words would be synonyms.
As others have said, the log-in queue is probably caused because they're going to release a new gamemode in a week or two and have been open beta testing it, it is usually considerably better than that.

This new gamemode might suit you better, it's quite a lot like Arathi Basin. The core mechanics are still in it, like the twitchy gameplay, but I do think it'll suit you more.
Tried it out myself a few months ago.

It's fun for a few days. But I prefer full blown rts or rpg games. It's all a bit too simple for my tastes.
If you keep playing, some of those perceptions will change over time. The beginner bots are really horrible. Once you have any experience, you will rampage over them; I have had more than 20 kills (plus assists) in a 20-minute game, and you can win consistently 4-on-5. The minion-heavy part of the game should drop away around level 8-10, until they become a tool to speed the endgame.

I say this without being level 30 or having played a ranked game. It is not hard to become much better, although quite a few players defy that perception.
The minions really don't have much of an AI. That's the point. They are just cannon fodder locked in an endless war that you have to turn the tide.

But the game is worse than twitchy. You also have to learn which abilities to level first (basically a leveling build), what items you want to buy. How to upgrade items.

Its very much like PvP in WoW in that you must learn not only your multiple abilities, but the abilities of your opponents.
Update: The Dominion game mode is actually live from today on out.
I think some of these commenters are somewhat missing the point of your post. That is, talking about personal taste as it relates to popularity and quality. You could have substituted any number of other game and had the same post (Starcraft, HoN, Counterstrike, etc.)
Tobold, a bot game in LoL compared to real 5v5 PVP is like taking someone into Ragefire Chasm overleveled and telling them it is the epitome of raid design. They're the same basic game (WoW or LoL) but the experience and mastery required at the different levels is vastly different. Bot games exist to practice new champions and maybe get your first win of the day in, they're no substitute for the real PVP game.

However, given the extreme twitch nature of PVP, the sheer learning curve required, how awful the PUG community is, and there not really being any kind of pay to win (even EXP boosts are trivial since your level has 0 correlation with your skill even at 30) I'm not sure LOL is the game for you.
As others have said, the minions are a main focus of early game play, but later on in actual PVP they are much less so. In PVP, they're there. You use the good ones for cover. You avoid the bad ones if you are low. Otherwise they are a sort of moving terrain feature filled with gold.

LoL is definitely a twitchy game. I'd say its combat is much more like Diablo (or even an FPS) than World of Warcraft.

You may not love it for various reasons, but there is one thing I expected to resonate with you: dynamic gameplay. Yes, there are only 3 maps (new one releases today, in fact), and yes your character has basically 6 abilities counting summoner spells. Despite all that, I never feel like I'm grinding through a spell rotation trying to maximize my DPS/HPS. I never feel like I'm playing whack-a-mole on the raid window, trying to keep my friends alive. I am always playing the Champion I selected, not some amorphous most-common-denominator not-standing-in-the-fire Simon Says machine. The cookie-cutter dullness of raiding is nowhere to be found in LoL.

I hope you stick around and try the PVP. It can be frustrating, just like any other game played on the internet with other people, but the game has incredible depth and offers something new to learn every match.
All I can say brace yourself if you start playing normal games. LoL has the worst community I ever seen, - leavers, rages, name callers. Practically guaranteed every game

Also learning curve is sky high. If you want win you will have to learn a lot and be a pretty good with your twitch.

Ironically learning curve is what keeps me in the game - I have not mastered it yet, despite plenty of time invested
I agree with you Tobold, I don't like the game either, even though most of my friends love it.I don't like it because of the reasons you expanded on and also because I think that the mmos I have played with questing, crafting and other options give players more to do than just b.g.s and pvps. I like classes with pets though, so I guess I disagree with you there, but to each his own.
If Summoner's Rift wasn't to your liking, why not give Dominion a try? The new game mode is very much like WoW's Arathi Basin and kills/deaths mean much less than map/point control.
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to you and play
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