League of Legends: Clash of Fates – hands-on

The map we played had a layout familiar to DotA fans, but there are a number of other maps playable, along with different modes that may require holding capture points or achieving other objectives. In each map there are camps of AI creatures that can be killed to level up your champion in those lulls when the enemy is regrouping. An interesting new feature is tall grass – it doesn’t block or hinder movement, butit blocks line of sight. This means a sneaky player can hide behind grass for an ambush, or duck in and out of grass to lose a pursuing foe.

A huge area that expands on the original DotA game is Legends’ meta-game, where the player is actually a character known as a summoner. The idea is that you summon the various champions to fight for you, so not only do your champions level up, but you do as well. As players compete in games, they’ll unlock three separate categories of goodies: Masteries, Runes, and Spells.

Masteries are like the Talent trees in WoW. As a summoner you’ll earn points you can invest in enhancements and abilities that increase the power of any hero you then subsequently bring into battle. You’ll be able to save different “loadouts” of Masteries and swap them out between battles. Runes are bonuses you etch into a Runebook, and are a one-time deal. Once you enter them, they can’t be changed, so decide wisely. Finally, summoner Spells are separate from your champions’ spells. You can choose two of them for a given battle, so by combining summoner Spells with champion spells, you can further customize your champions.

For the seriously competitive players, League of Legends will offer Ladder play, with an auto matchmaking system that uses ELL (Expected Ladder Level). Based upon how well you do against certain opponents, the matchmaking system assigns you an ELL that predicts how far up the ladder you will eventually climb. The hope is that similarly skilled players will be matched up, regardless of how far up the ladder they currently are.

For the stats-hungry goons, LoL plans to have a ridiculous amount of stats tracked. So you’ll know who you’ve beaten to a pulp with which champion, how good you are in specific situations, and so on. For a free to play multiplayer game, the proposed amount of support is certainly ambitious. The question is: how many DotA fans will give up their familiar beloved to try something new? Since League of Legends stems from the very pedigree of their devotion, we’re guessing players might make the switch in droves. And with a much friendlier accessibility, the possibility to gaining new recruits could be huge.

Jul 28, 2009

Matthew Keast
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.