League of Legends is a unique mixture of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game that many players in both fan bases find attractive. While the MMORPG crowd (think World of Warcraft or Conquer Online) is undeniably huge, many people are turned off to this particular type of gaming because it is so time and energy intensive. On the flip side, RTS gaming (think Starcraft or Command and Conquer) usually requires a vast amount of knowledge and preparation before a competitive match can be fun, and when the match is over, the player usually has nothing to show for it (in other words, there is no character leveling, there is no gathering of gold, and there is no reward for winning the previous game). There are certainly exceptions, but the preceding statements hold true most of the time.
League of Legends attempts to have its cake and eat it too (and it does a pretty good job of it, in my opinion). In LoL, you, the player, are referred to as a “summoner,” and your job is to control the actions of your champion on the battlefield. The game is played in a 5v5 or a 3v3 format, with one simple goal: destroying the enemy “nexus” before your own base is destroyed. Along the way to the enemy nexus, there are neutral monsters, enemy minions, several turrets, and yes, enemy champions, all looking to prevent you from achieving your goal. But along with friendly minions, turrets, and champions on your side of the battlefield, you also have several unique abilities at your disposal, depending on your summoner choices and your champion selection. This is the RTS element to the game.
The actual gameplay revolves around making your champion stronger with items and experience as quickly as possible, to thereby defeat your enemies, destroy their turrets, and explode their nexus. Levels are gained by being within a reasonable range whenever an enemy unit dies. As your champion gains levels, he/she will learn new abilities OR will upgrade existing ones, making them more powerful than before. Gold is the currency in the game and is gained by getting the killing blow on an enemy. Gold is also slowly accumulated by each champion as the game progresses, regardless of how many kills he/she may have. As can be imagined, enemy champion kills are worth much more than a simple minion kill. As players obtain gold, they are able to buy items for their champion, which increases that champion’s statistics in whatever area(s) the items specialize. Completed games provide several different bonuses for your “summoner profile,” which you can use to gain an edge in your upcoming battles. This is the RPG element to the game.
The combination of the two proven RPG and RTS elements into one game is what I believe make the game stand out from all other online multiplayer games of this generation. The servers are almost always online, with the exception of major patch days (as with any MMORPG game), and the game engine itself is smooth and handles gameplay extremely well. Although there are paid elements to the game if you wish to spend money, League of Legends is a completely free game to download and play. They even include an in-game tutorial along with an extremely helpful custom game option so that you can get your feet wet before you tangle with other players. If this sounds like something that you’d like to try out, why not download the game and give it a shot today?