Video Game Review: League of Legends

Details: Released in 2009 but is updated and patched periodically. For the PC. Free to play, though it will take time or real money to unlock everything. Don’t know how many hours I’ve played, but I’m level thirty and I’ve unlocked around twenty heroes. They don’t display hours played.

I’ve played League of Legends before and I decided to return to it to refresh my memory. In general, it’s a similar game to Dota 2. However, if you’ve invested the requisite hundred hours in either game, the two games are obviously different. This review will mostly be a comparison between the two games.

League of Legends is a MOBA or multiplayer online battle arena game. I’ve gone into what that is a little bit in my Dota 2 review I posted on June 10, 2017 and in a post on December 30, 2014, so I’m not going to get into that here. If you want to know more about this genre of video games, read those posts or just Google it.

The main question I’m answering here is whether this game is better or worse than Dota 2 and I’m going to figure that out by going down the list of differences that seemed significant to me.

Firstly, the visual style is different. I wouldn’t say it’s substantially worse than Dota 2, just different. I think, from a technical standpoint, Dota 2 has better visuals and effects animations.

In regards to gameplay, League of Legends is in many ways a more simplified game. There’s a lot less to worry about, though there are some additional things. Here are some bullet points.

  • Something that’s only in League of Legends are brush areas where players can walk into and hide. Players outside the brush cannot see into the brush but players in the brush can see out. Dota 2 instead has hills and you cannot see what’s on top of a hill from downhill. Dota 2 also has trees which can obstruct vision.
  • Both games have wards (items that provide vision on the map), however, wards are free and recharge a lot sooner in League of Legends. In Dota 2, wards are a relatively scarce commodity that you have to buy.
  • In Dota 2, when a friendly unit or building is low on hit points, you can attack it and deny the enemy gold or experience. Sometimes, you can even deny other players. You can’t do that in League of Legends.
  • In Dota 2, you can fortify structures, making them immune to damage for a few seconds. You can’t do that in League of Legends.
  • In Dota 2, if you have enough gold, you can instantly buy back and revive your character if you’re dead. You can’t do that in League of Legends.
  • League of Legends is a much faster game than Dota 2. Games are generally shorter. I think League gives more resources at a faster rate than Dota 2 and items are cheaper. Units and structures also seems to either have less hit points or take more damage.
  • In both games, waves of units spawn periodically and push towards the enemy base. In both games, that structure can be destroyed. Only in League of Legends can that structure revive. It comes back after five minutes and starts spawning units again.
  • League of Legends has Mastery pages, Rune pages, and Summoner Spells. These are essentially stat bonuses and abilities that you set up before a game even begins. Different characters require different Masteries, Runes and Summoner Spells to be set up before the game starts in order to be optimal. Furthermore, Masteries and Runes need to unlocked through playing the game. Runes can be purchased with subsequently earned points or through real money. Dota 2 does not have any of these things. All abilities and spells must be obtained during a game. There is nothing to set up beforehand. Furthermore, the need to earn or buy runes means that players that spent the real money or time are going to have better stats than players that have not.
  • You can vote to surrender the game. Arguably a good feature in some ways. However, some of the best games of Dota 2 were come backs. If Dota 2 had a surrender option, there would be no comebacks at all since we’d likely give up every time things looked even a little bad.

There are a bunch of other differences I’m sure, but these were the ones that stood out to me. While both games have elements that the other game doesn’t have. My overall impression is that Dota 2 has more things to worry about than League of Legends. Some may argue that those features are annoying and slow the pace of the game. In my opinion, I prefer Dota 2’s more features and somewhat higher difficulty. The whole point of the game is to get better and continue improving. The more features you have, the more there is to learn and master.

One of the big differences between the games is the use of real money. In Dota 2, all playable characters are unlocked from the beginning. You are free to try everything and anything at any time. There are no true gameplay advantages in the game. Everyone has access to the same things. In League of Legends, a wall is placed around new players and they must pay real money or spend a substantial amount of time playing the game in order to unlock everything. And it is a substantial amount of time. I think I’ve played at least a hundred hours and I still haven’t unlocked everyone. Hell, I’m not even close. I was planning on unlocking all the playable characters but it’s just not worth it. Not when I can play all the heroes I want in Dota 2. I can see how it might be fun unlocking things and deluding yourself into feeling like there’s progress, but I just want to play the game. If someone has an advantage on me, I want it to be because of experience and skill, not because they were willing to spend money or grind months of their lives away.

Overall, Dota 2 and League of Legends both are fun games, but I think Dota 2 is better. When I first started playing League of Legends, I was expecting a game like Dota 2, but that had made different gameplay decisions resulting in a very different game. That wasn’t the case. League of Legends is an incredibly similar game to Dota 2. A lot of the same features are in both games but under different names. However, many of the features in Dota 2 are not in League of Legends. While each individual missing feature is not essential by itself, when you add them altogether, it’s clear that League of Legends has layers of depth missing from its gameplay. That means less tactics, less creativity, and less surprises. In my opinion, Dota 2 is the better game not just because there are more gameplay features, but also because all those gameplay features are available from the very moment you start playing the game. Unlike League of Legends, Dota 2 doesn’t make you waste time grinding away for months or waste real money in order to play as the character you truly want to play or to get rid of preset disadvantages.

Score: 6.7/10

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