Last week I discovered that uncovering the mysteries of Madden ’15 was simply too big a task for one week. With my life busy enough taking an adventure in a different game every week has been less than practical. Madden was the conduit through which I discovered this. With that in mind from now each adventure will last two weeks. Although that is the case I will continue to write these articles weekly; each game will get two weeks discussion. A skin deep assessment will take place in the first week, followed by a more in-depth discussion the following week. Next week I’ll be starting to play two very important games: Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. But for this instalment I decided to re-visit our very first topic – MOBA’s via League of Legends.
Last time I wrote about League of Legends I’d just racked up about eight hours played. In that time I’d uncovered just what a MOBA is through some some fairly basic tutorials – effectively a RTS in which you control one hero. I’d taken that basic experience into a few games against AI foes alongside groups of other new starters, and won. Finally I took my basic understanding into a live battlefield, playing against real players, and managed to win as many rounds as I lost. By this time I’d at least gathered the faintest understanding of how MOBA’s worked, but I was still miles off learning everything I needed to know. So now with far more games under by belt I hope to share a few more experiences with you.
In my early games I’d elected to focus on learning one of League’s tens of heroes – Ashe, The Frost Archer. A straightforward marksman hero Ashe’s abilities made her perfect at slaying waves of AI controlled minions with little effort; at higher levels she was capable of practically brushing them aside. I really enjoyed that element of Ashe’s character, but there was an issue too – faced with enemy champions Ashe was a pushover. With no defensive capabilities even League’s own character guide described the frost archer as an easy gank – not exactly inspiring. Even so I’d become comfortable playing as Ashe in the bottom lane.
Five games in I decided it was time to mix up proceedings. I needed to do something different, so I elected to play a new hero in a different role playing in a different lane. If you’re wondering what a lane is allow me to explain. Three roads, or lanes, connect your base to the rival teams, dotted along the way are powerful watchtowers that belong to each team. Players must actively defend their lane whilst trying to battle ever closer their enemies base. Killing waves of AI controlled minions earns experience which allows heroes to level up making them more powerful. Killing another player rewards greater experience, letting a rival kill you is bad news as they’ll level up quicker, therefore becoming stronger.
After sometime playing, and some helpful explanation from friends I’d started to figure out just how lanes really worked. Each of the three lanes: bottom, middle and top are all best suited to certain roles, additionally middle lane spawns enemies at a faster rate. Sustainable characters like tanks and fighters with self-heals are best suite to top lane. A marksman backed up with a support make a good team to take the bottom lane. While a solo mage is perfect for the middle lane, they’ll rack up more experience that way and their already strong moves will get even more powerful. Finally assassin types are perfect for fighting AI monsters in the jungle – the areas between lanes.
If that all sounds confusing, that’s because on the surface it is. But it comes naturally as you play. So having settled into bottom lane marksmanship I decided to swap, I’d try top lane as a fighter. Picking a new hero was tough, but I went with the angelic Kayle. Capable of being a fighter, support and in the right hands mage, Kayle is an extremely versatile combatant. And I fell in love with her. Unlike playing as Ashe when I played Kayle I felt powerful, I was holding my own in lane alone, and taking down enemies in the later stages thanks to nifty self heals and powerful spells. Five games later again, winning as much as I lost, I was enamoured. But once again in the interest of variation I felt it was time for a change.
My last experience was with Veigar, a mage with a small stature but huge damage output. Taking up the middle lane role, this would be my most important job yet. As I took up this third role I began to realise just how wildly different not only every hero is, but every lane. Middle lane was faster than the other two, and although my damage output was stronger so too was that of my direct nemesis. It’s a lane characterised by high damage output characters and ever-changing situations. The shortest route to the enemies base, middle lane is hotly contended, as such it’s common to call for help, and for the enemy to do the same. Veigar rocked though, his powerful move set, with massive burst damage, meant killing player champions was easier than ever – but he was super squishy.
Even now, with three times as many games complete as last time I wrote LoL’s intricacies elude me. I don’t know how the vast majority of the heroes play. I only know how three of the roles feel: mage, marksmen and fighter in their specific lanes. And still know nothing of the jungle, tanking heroes or playing support. I’ll be honest too, I know very little of how League’s itemization system works, the game doesn’t explain very well at all what items each hero should prioritise getting – though some online guides do help.
That said I’m still loving it. The clever progression, frantic combat and procedural tactics still have me hooked. It’s no wonder games like Evolve are so obviously inspired by the MOBA genre. Nearly every PC will run LoL thanks to really low entry PC specs, and it’s free. So what are you waiting for? Go start your adventure today.