League of Legends (often abbreviated as LoL, and sometimes as LofL) is an action RTS video game developed and published by Riot Games forMicrosoft Windows, inspired by the Defense of the Ancients (DotA) map for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. It was first announced on October 7, 2008, and released on October 27, 2009. The game was in a closed beta from April 10, 2009, to October 22, 2009. It then transitioned to open beta until release.
Players are formed into 2 even teams of Champions, 3v3 or 5v5. As of August 2011, there are 81 different released champions. Each team starts at opposing sides of a map in an area called the "fountain", near what is called a "Nexus". A match is won when either the opposing team's Nexus is destroyed or the other team surrenders. To destroy a Nexus, each team must work through a series of towers called "Turrets". Turrets are often placed along a path to each base referred to as a "Lane". Along the way, each player gains levels from killing the opposing team's champions and "Minions" (small NPCs that constantly spawn and attack the other team) and defeating neutral monsters (some of which grant buffs known as crests upon death). Completing objectives rewards players with gold which is used to purchase items. In League of Legends, each player starts at level 1 at the beginning of the match and can obtain the maximum of level 18 with their champion, leveling 4 different champion-specific abilities.
Game modes and matchmaking
League of Legends is a session-based game. Matchmaking occurs based on the average Elo ratings of each individual players, with slight proprietary adjustments.
The game can currently be played in five different modes: tutorial, custom, Co-Op vs. AI, normal and ranked.
- Tutorial is the game mode where new player are directed to when they first start the game. It is a private offline game session where the players are taught the basic controls and goals of the game.
- Custom mode allows players to manually create custom game sessions that other players can find on a game list and join. Players can add computer controlled champions (bots), set password, and set the maximum number of players in Custom games.
- Co-op vs. AI is a mode where players are matched either alone or as part of a group against a team of bots. Currently, this mode is only available on the 5v5 map, Summoner's Rift. Players can choose either beginner or intermediate difficulty.
- In a Normal game, players queue themselves to the automatic match-making service either alone (Solo) or as part of a group. The server then automatically creates a game and attempts to populate it with players in a way that both sides have a 50% chance to win. The players are rated in a hidden Elo rating based on the outcome of normal mode matches they participate in, and the server uses that rating for future match-making. Only the win count of the player in normal mode is displayed publicly, losses and Elo are not displayed.
- The Ranked mode became available to players of level 20 and higher when Season One officially commenced on July 13, 2010, but was later changed to only be available to players of level 30 (players can still queue for Ranked games if they're over level 20, but only if they are in an arranged team). While this mode plays much like Normal mode, two main differences exist. First, the game uses Draft Mode where each team can ban 2 champions from the game (so no players may play them) and the two teams cannot play the same champion (so if team A takes Ezreal, team B cannot take Ezreal ) In addition you also see your enemies champion picks before the loading of the actual game (So that your team can arrange your team depending on which enemies you are facing). Second, an exclusive, visible rating is calculated based on the player's performance in Ranked games. The player is placed on the ladder according to their rating, and top teams on the ladder have a chance to compete in the "$100,000 Global Finals" at the end of the season. Riot has announced the conclusion of season 1 will happen in summer 2011.
Fields of Justice
Maps in League of Legends are called Fields of Justice. There are currently three Fields of Justice that the players can choose from:
- Summoner's Rift resembles the DotA map. It has 3 lanes and supports 5 players per side.
- Twisted Treeline is a smaller map with only 2 lanes. It supports 3 players per side.
- Crystal Scar is a new map released 9/26/2011. It goes along with the new game type, Dominion.
There are two other maps, the tutorial map called Proving Grounds and the new map that is in development with the name of Magma Chamber.
A match puts two teams with a fixed number of players against each other. Each team has its base, which contains the re-spawn point, item shop and nexus. The two bases are connected by lanes. Periodically, waves of minions spawn from the nexus. Minions are AI-controlled troops that walk down the lanes, engaging any enemies they encounter. The lanes are lined with turrets that engage enemies within range. Once a turret is destroyed, it cannot be rebuilt. A new element in League of Legends is the inhibitors. Each lane has an inhibitor on both ends. If a team destroys the enemy inhibitor, more powerful "super minions" will spawn for that side. Unlike turrets, inhibitors respawn after a fixed amount of time.
Besides the lanes, the maps also contain "jungle" areas. Neutral monsters inhabit the jungle. These monsters can be killed by a champion for bonus gold and experience. Some powerful neutral monsters grant the killer a temporary buff that will help them in battle (such as slowing the enemy and gaining more attack damage, increased damage and increased health regeneration, or an increased mana regeneration and spell cooldown reduction). Another special terrain feature is the brush. Brush blocks the line of sight of units, allowing champions to hide and set up an ambush.
The goal of each team is to destroy the enemy Nexus. The first team to achieve this is the victor. Victory is also attained if your opponent surrenders, using a voting system, but only 15 minutes (Twisted Treeline) or 20 minutes (Summoner's Rift) or more into the game.
Dominion is a new game type announced by Riot Games. It was released on September 26, 2011. Dominion brings faster action and tactical gameplay played on an all-new map, the Crystal Scar, and features a new Capture-and-Hold playstyle. Players choose Champions, as in the "standard" Summoners Rift games, but the Inhibitors and Turrets have been removed. Instead, the map has five Capture Points. Capturing one of these points will turn it into a Turret for your team, and allow it to start spawning the minions that the Nexus spawned in Summoner's Rift and Twisted Treeline. Item availability is also different in Dominion, with some items in available in Summoner's Rift and Twisted Treeline disabled, while other new items have been added. Two Summoner's Spells available in "standard" games have also been disabled, with two new ones taking their place. The new game type is aimed to be much shorter than conventional 45 minute Summoner's Rift games: most Dominion games average about 20 minutes in duration.
Persistence and meta-game
The Summoner acts as the persistent element in the game, to be used to track statistics and scores for each player.
Summoners gain experience points and Influence Points for each battle they participate in. They level up by getting enough experience, unlocking new ways to influence battles.
The Summoner can also choose two summoner spells to bring with it into an in-game session on the Fields of Justice. These spells significantly impact gameplay, and have a high cooldown while costing no mana. All spells can be improved by masteries.
Masteries are perks that affect gameplay, they are commonly referred to in other games as "skill-trees". All of the masteries are passive effects although some augment summoner spells, which can be activated. They are grouped into Offensive, Defensive, and Utility categories. Each group has 6 tiers, within a group all but the first tier are locked when you first start, with a successive tier opening with each 4 points spent in the same group. Lines in the mastery tree imply additional unlocking criteria. The summoner can put one point per level (up to level 30) into masteries. Masteries can be re-distributed at will between battles. As of May 23, 2011, players were allowed to have multiple saved mastery pages.
Similar to masteries, runes affect gameplay in minor ways. Runes are categorized into Marks (offensive), Seals (defensive), Glyphs (magic) and Quintessence (all-purpose). They are also grouped into 3 tiers, higher tiers requiring a higher Summoner level. Runes must be unlocked in the Store and it is possible to have more than one copy of a rune. Summoners must arrange their runes in the Runebook to benefit from them. The Runebook has limited number of slots for each rune type. The book has two pages, allowing two different rune builds to be saved and the appropriate one chosen before a battle. More rune pages can be purchased from either Influence Points or Riot Points, however the 7 rune page combo can only be purchased with Riot Points. A combining system exists for runes: combining two equal-tier runes produces a random rune of the same tier, while combining 5 equal-tier runes produces a higher-tier rune.
The League of Legends Store allows Summoners to purchase additional options through Riot Points (RP) and Influence Points (IP). Riot Points must be bought using real money, while Influence Points are earned by playing the game.
- Champions can be unlocked for either RP or IP.
- Skins are alternate looks for champions that can be unlocked for RP only.
- Boosts that can increase the amount of IP or XP gained per game over a period can be purchased for RP only.
- Runes can be purchased for IP only so as to not directly "sell power".
- Others, Rune pages, and the ability to change your summoner name. And they can only be purchased with IP or RP.
- Bundles that unlock a large selection of champions can be purchased for RP only.
- Riot Points can be recharged by credit card, PayPal, Paysafecard and SMS.
As of May 24, 2011, moderation is conducted through a democratic system known as The Tribunal. In this system, player-submitted reports are reviewed by other players on a case-by-case basis. The reviewing players then submit their opinions on the legality of the behavior demonstrated. A consensus renders the decision official. It is notable that players are unable to be permanently banned through this system, since "all permanent bans are distributed manually." Notably, players receive reward in the form of in-game Influence Points for agreeing with the outcome to encourage accurate analysis of the case.
League of Legends has experienced some moderate success in the competitive video game field. The 2010 World Cyber Games Grand Finals at Los Angeles hosted a competitive tournament forLeague of Legends. The competitors came from around the world to compete, coming from China, Europe and the Americas. The victors were the Counter Logic Gaming team from North America and won a seven-thousand dollar prize.
Competitive play for League of Legends reached a new level during the Season 1 World Championships at Dreamhack held in Sweden during June 2011. The European team Fnatic defeated teams from Europe, the USA and Asia to win the tournament which featured $100,000 in prizes and won a 50,000 dollar prize. Over 1.6 million viewers watched the streaming broadcast over the course of the event with a peak of over 210,000 viewers watching a single semi-final match.
Steve "Guinsoo" Feak, the previous designer of the popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne custom map, DotA Allstars, and Steve "Pendragon" Mescon, the administrator of the former official support base for the map (www.dota-allstars.com), were involved with Riot Games in the development of League Of Legends. Using the original DotA created by Eul (the original Defence of The Ancients map for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos) as a base, Guinsoo made DotA Allstars by inserting his own mix of content, largely expanding the number of the heroes, and adding recipes, numerous items and various gameplay changes. Guinsoo then passed version 6 of the map on to its current developer, IceFrog.
Riot Games has signed deals regarding the distribution of League of Legends in Asia, Europe, and North America. The game is expected to be released in the rest of the world also. The game has already released and is distributed in Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe. No public announcements regarding other regions has yet been made.
In Asia, Tencent Inc., China's largest Internet value-added services company, best known for its QQ Instant Messaging client will be in charge of the distribution to Tencent's growing 300 million Internet user base through its leading QQ Game portal. The deal is one of only a handful of partnerships to bring a U.S.-developed online game directly to China.
In Europe, Riot Games has signed an international licensing partnership with GOA, the videogames department of Orange's Content Division and Europe's largest gaming portal. On October 13, 2009, GOA and Riot announced that they would start channeling server access for players located in Europe, to GOA's dedicated servers. This restriction meant that players located in Europe would not be able to play on Riot's servers in the United States. Due to negative community feedback, the channeling decision was rescinded October 16, 2009. In North America, Riot Games will self-publish and operate the game and all of its customer service aspects.
On May 10, 2010, Riot Games announced that they would take over distribution and operation of the game in Europe. To do so, Riot Games established a European HQ in Dublin.
On July 14, 2009, Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be free with "no catch". There will be a digital copy for download, but there is also a Digital Collector's Copy that will be available to purchase that contains exclusive skins, $10 credit for Riot Points, and 20 champions to access without unlocking them normally via gameplay as well as 4 "special" runes; the Collector's Pack is currently available for $29.99. Even though the game is free, Riot Games "plan[s] to continue to add content (characters etc...) with a full production team at very frequent intervals."Using both free-to-play and freemium models, the game is supported by microtransactions (see store) rather than ads or boxed copy sales.
On 25 February 2010 Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be distributed in Southeast Asian countries by an unspecified publisher and blocked SEA IP addresses pursuant to its distribution agreement. The community has raised a number of concerns about the deal and the immediate IP block. On July 16, 2010, Riot Games announced that Garena will publish the game in Southeast Asia. Additionally, Southeast Asian players have the ability "transfer accounts" to import their progress stored in North American or European servers, into the Southeast Asian server.
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League of Legends has received generally favorable reviews, and currently holds a Metacritic score of 78 out of 100.
IGN awarded League of Legends 8.0 out of 10, highlighting an enjoyable game design, inventive champion design with good customization options and lively visuals. However, the game's confusing launch was criticized: it was felt that the title was released too early, with some features missing and others to be removed. Finally, the reviewer noted that high level players in the game have "little patience for newcomers," though the reviewer believed that matchmaking (not implemented at the time of review), would solve the problem by matching players of similar level together. GameZebo, in contrast, awarded the game 2.5 stars out of 5, criticizing the game's lack of campaign mode and single player options, and stating that "League of Legends feels like a real time strategy game with all of the strategy taken out."
The game has undergone criticism for server unreliability and unmoderated gameplay (such as player grief and harassment). However, a system to report players who misbehave in-game has been implemented, allowing a player to report others for reasons such as verbal harassment, intentional disruption of the game (e.g., 'feeding' the enemy team, making them gain kills and thus gold, by dying on purpose), staying AFK (Away From Keyboard) for extended periods of time, and leaving the game. Riot released a peer review system called the "Tribunal" in May of 2011. Riot rewards influence points to players for reviewing reports entered by other players. With the added user contribution, banning players based on their actions takes much less time, resulting in better game play overall through community self-correction.
As of July 2011, League of Legends had over 15 million registrations and averages more than 1 million players per day, with the number of concurrent users online at any given time peaking at 500,000+.