| Accessible game play
Enormous player base
Free to play
Large number of Champions
Scales to almost any PC
| Fluctuating balance issues
Lacking critical competitive systems
Questionable eSports presence
Some unpolished elements remain
Polish – 7.0
In contrast to League of Legends’ innovative streak the game falls surprisingly short on some of the most desperately mandatory features for a MOBA or RTS. There is no official replay, spectator, guild, or pause system in game despite being promised and hinted at since launch two years ago. As games such as Heroes of Newerth have shown a solid replay system and spectator mode are utterly irreplaceable for a strategy game that wants to be a serious contender in the competitive scene. This deficiency reared its ugly head at League of Legends’ premier with Major League Gaming when a stream couldn’t be resumed after a player disconnected which stemmed from League of Legends steadfast record of underperforming in tournament conditions.
The launcher client also has a plethora of problems to contend with as well. Despite receiving multiple aesthetic and user-friendliness updates over the years the chat system continues to be unreliable and erratic in its connection to the servers and the shop always has a new glitch to contend with (at the time of writing the scroll-bar for purchase history just disappears and the player’s purchase history is inaccessible past the first page). The largest issue though has to be the fact that the launcher utilizes Adobe Air which has a host of problematic behaviors attached to it which includes being generally unreliable on a regular basis and crashing semi-often.
However League of Legends continues the trend of countering rusty mechanical implementation of basic systems by having superb quality control regarding new content. New champions (and revamped old champions) are a feast for the eyes in every way imaginable. It is obvious that a staggering amount of effort went into making each champion completely life-like, believable, and gorgeous. Animations are realistic and crisp, voice-acting is professionally done, and particle effects are particularly striking! The art team always does a tremendous job with the new content and this also applies to the new map, The Crystal Scar. Unfortunately all the new tech displayed there is painfully absent in Summoner’s Rift which only goes to show players how far League of Legends has come these past two years.
Of special note is that Riot holds no qualms about delaying content that they feel is not up to snuff. To cries of anarchy and abhorrence patches, champions, and major features are delayed when necessary for the better of the game.
Longevity – 10
As it was noted at the beginning of the review millions of people play League of Legends every day all around the world. Riot has gone to great lengths to enforce their policy of being "the most player and community focused game company in the world" which entails expanding their servers to every inhabited continent. The player base grows more every day thanks to League of Legends’ continued marketing campaign and new content is constantly being introduced to keep the experience interesting and fresh. If League of Legends can secure a permanent slot in the e-sports community then the chances of the game fading away any time soon are slim to none. Regarding the seeming un-sustainability of the current business model any speculation that it can’t continue at its current pace seem to be null and void as the League of Legends machine churns on and on. As long a Riot continues to be the player-centric company that they are they’ll likely keep growing, which is good for fans.
As far as the game itself goes (outside of the new content) the progression system ensures that players will always have something to work towards. Be it levels, rating, champions, or runes there is always a goal to accomplish outside of the actual game. Also considering how much content that exists and will be added in the future new players will have copious if not extreme amounts of content to unlock. It is entirely possible to restrict one’s gaming habits strictly to League of Legends for a year and still have nowhere near all the content unlocked which means as long as the game is enjoyable there will always be extra incentive to game on.
Social – 6.5
For being such a successful game with such an enormous population League of Legends is staggeringly lacking when it comes to features allowing players to socialize with one another. There exists only a rudimentary (and buggy) chat system in game that includes direct chat with other players and chat rooms. Beyond that and the community forums (which are insanely active at almost all times) there are no other ways to interact with players. There is no guild support, no team support, only extremely simplified and restricted stats available, and the Tribunal system on top of it all further garners caution against player interaction. The Tribunal is a player-fueled judgment system where cases are presented to qualified players who read the match summary and chat logs of a player who has been reported repeatedly for poor behavior. If enough of one’s peers deem the summoner in question to be deserving of punishment a ban will be instituted. While Riot reviews all cases this process is a major engine in keeping the community as clean as can be but is often seen in-game as someone threatening to report another player about how Tribunal will get them banned.
As far as the community of players itself is concerned the commonly held belief is that League of Legends, despite its discrepancies with DOTA, has inherited the worst part of that games community. Feeders, trolls, and all-around unpleasant people abound within the game as is to be expected in any large gaming population, however the players are also exceedingly passionate about the game to the point where fan art, cosplay, music, and plushies abound on the forums. There exists both a light and dark side to the community and each player’s experience will differ but as always a good group of friends on a VOIP client will succeed more often than not in eliciting more fun than the solo player would have. Unfortunately this fact further deepens the need for built-in voice communication and better social features.
On the bright side developers are constantly (as in daily) interacting with the community on the forums and there is a generally open-mouth policy with what is going on with the game.
Value – 6.0
The short and sweet of the situation is this; no matter if you spend copious amounts of cash or none at all on the game the value in terms of each individual purchase is relatively low. If one’s goal is to unlock as much content as possible it will become painfully apparent that champions, skins, and bundles are all relatively expensive in either time or money. Boil down that many of the purchasable items are largely convenience or cosmetic items there isn’t much to consider outside of runes and champions. Champions cost around ten dollars each and most newly released champions will take a couple weeks of playtime to unlock. Either way the problem is considered it will take an inordinate commitment of either time or money to unlock large portions of content which, while being good for extreme examples of play-time, are initially daunting and off-putting.
Players who spend nothing will be playing catch up indefinitely while players who pay will spend large amounts to unlock much or little to gain a little distance on the ever growing canyon of content. And while League of Legends does do a weekly rotation of free champions to play this is hardly a positive for max level players wishing to enter ranked gameplay and be competitive.
League of Legends has so much potential. While the game currently is completely serviceable with a diverse roster of champions and game types to choose from it suffers greatly from an endlessly expanding pool of content and a lack of critical features years after release. The gameplay, community, and capital are all in place to turn a great game into the cornerstone of a genre and while the praise and attention the game has garnered so far is unquestionably earned League of Legends has a long way to go before it becomes the overlord it seemingly wants to be.
If MOBA PvP goodness is your aim then League of Legends is at the top of the genre right now in almost all regards, don’t hesitate to summon up the courage to face battle on the Fields of Justice!