So, you’ve come to read our review of League of Legends. How nice of you. You’re presumably doing that because you’re thinking about buying it, but before you spend any money on the game we’d suggest you jump over to the last two pages and read our discussion about the value the game represents. That’s an important part of this review.
For now though, we’ll assume that you want to read the traditional review content first and get familiarised with League of Legends.
League of Legends is a strategy game, but it’s a very specific type of strategy game which is a lot more of an RPG than it is an RTS. It’s part of a little-known genre named DotA, after the first game of it’s type Defence of the Ancients – a popular mod for Warcraft 3 back in the day.
Welcome to the League!
If you already know Defence of the Ancients then League of Legends will be immediately familiar to you since the game is made by the modders who put the original DotA together, with a formula is largely unchanged. In fact, it’s almost identical.
If you’re new to the genre though then fear not as it’s not all that difficult to learn the basics, even though the game doesn’t do a lot to help newcomers pick it up. There are two teams, with bases at opposite sides of the maps and a few straight pathways between the two. The paths are lined with turrets and it’s the objective of each team to destroy enemy turrets, with the opposing base using the forces at their control.
Where League of Legends and other DotA games differ from conventional RTSs though is in the absence of building or armies. At the start of each game all the turrets are already in place and if they’re destroyed then they can’t be rebuilt. Meanwhile the armies of each team are completely automatic, spawning at regular intervals and attacking the enemy in the same way every time. The fact that both sides are evenly matched in terms of strength and tower layout means that battles are potentially never-ending.
We are the champions!
Which is where you come in – to tip the balance via the only thing on the battlefield you can directly control, your champion.
Selected from a list of available avatars at the start of every match, your champion is your representative in the world of League of Legends and is much more powerful and complex than the regular minions. Aside from being intelligently controlled rather than purely AI driven, champions also have access to a selection of four abilities which they can level up over time, as well as a few other tricks.
League of Legends supports some basic singleplayer practice matches that let you go up against bots (there’s no actual singleplay campaign), but the real focus is on 5v5 matches. That’s five champions per side, with players having to co-ordinate their choice of champions and their moment-to-moment tactics in order to maximise effectiveness. The champions themselves differ quite massively, with stealth, ranged, magic and tank play styles all accommodated for and unique abilities helping to give each champ a personality of its own.