I have to admit that of all the games I saw at E3, League of Legends had to be my diamond in the rough, or should I call it a unforeseen strike in a hidden bowling alley? The latter may be the case since I got to get some hands-on time with the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game at a bowling alley tucked a block away from the hustle and bustle of the LA Convention Center. This game, however, is nothing to be overlooked, since it does a great job of mixing action, role playing, and team cooperation into fast-paced session based game.
League of Legends: Clash of Fates, has been in development by Riot Games for some time now, and has many of the creative forces behind the predecessor to the game, the mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA) that was developed for Warcraft III. Defense of the Ancients is actually one of the most popular mods that was created for Warcraft III and you can find more people playing it than Warcraft II nowadays; however, the game is a click and attack third person action game built on top of an RTS game engine, which gives it many limitations. Luckily the team at Riot Games decided to take this fantastic gameplay mechanic and build a custom engine around it while also making the game a little more intuitive and easier to play in hopes of drawing an even bigger audience towards the genre. At the same time they created a new universe with great lore and many new and exciting champions for people to play and explore.
Hit the jump to see what it's all about as well as some screenshots from the game.
Champions are the unique characters that each player in a game can control in the game to help try and destroy the opposing team's base. I was told there would be upwards of 30 champions to choose from in the game, with many already playable in the beta. You and two to four other players choose your champions and then face off against an equal number of player opponents. As you battle against the enemy player and AI minions, your heroes gain experience which can be used towards upgrading the three main abilities of your champion, and in later levels, gaining a big fourth ability. The champions themselves range in roles of support, tanks, fighters, and assassin, each adding some helpful to the team.
On top of the quick sessions you get to play, there is a meta game you get to partake in outside of the sessions. As you play, your account also accrues experience and rank, which allows you access to new masteries, spells, and runes which can use in on your account to actively and passively boast your role in the team. This can be done in the form of buffs and spells added to your champions as well as two spells that you can can swap out at your account screen. This account level ranking encourages players to keep playing and ranking in the fast paced session and gives many rewards for doing so.
My hands-on time with the game was fantastic, and I got to play with two different champions. The first one was a frost archer called Ashe. She played more of a ranged roll and had fierce frost arrow attacks. Her big ability was a crystal arrow that could be fired from anywhere on the map, and if it hit an enemy champion would freeze them in place for a number of seconds. The second character I played as was the Card Master, Twisted Fate. He was more of an assassin character that could move quickly and ambush enemy players. He was a bit more tricky to play, but it was also very rewarding when you got it right, such as warping halfway across the map and destroy someone else that is trying to gun down an ally champion. The battles themselves were fun and seemingly balanced, and the chatter in the room as we continued to beat upon each other was amusing.
Overall, I will admit that League of Legends was one of the best and surprising gems of the many demos I saw during my time at E3. The team is working hard on the game and heavily beta testing the mechanics so that it can launch sometime this coming fall. I'll be sure to give all the juicy updates i can on the game until then, and be sure to check out their website for other news too as well as to sign up for the beta.