Strategy or Action Game: What is League of Legends, and Should You Dive in?
League of Legends is a game title that pretty much everyone will recognize to some degree. Even if you’re not a gamer in the slightest, you’re likely acquainted with someone who either plays or follows this popular game. In other words, you must be living under a literal rock to not have heard of LoL.
That being said, recognizing a game by its name and knowing what it’s about are two distinct states. One short glimpse of a League match can give you a highly vague idea of what genre it falls under and, more importantly, what makes it fun.
So, let’s break all of that down.
Is League of Legends a Strategy Game?
The top-down perspective of LoL’s camera can allude to several different genres. Real-time strategy games are some of the first to popularize it, especially in a competitive setting. The inclusion of small troops, called Minions, also seems to point in the direction of a game that involves commanding armies.
However, League isn’t a strategy game in that sense. Though each side of the battlefield defends its own base, you don’t actually build it. And there are no units to train and control, either. Instead, Minions are auto-generated during regular intervals and march mindlessly forward until they come in range of an enemy.
LoL is, though, the progeny of the RTS genre. More specifically, its precursors were built using map makers in popular titles like Starcraft and Warcraft III. From these ancestors, LoL and its contemporaries have inherited their large maps and click-based control schemes.
What is League of Legends Then?
LoL, today is considered to be a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA for short. While its pedigree lies in the RTS genre, it’s more closely related to Action RPGs like Diablo, with you controlling a single Champion in a team of five, each with their own unique skills and abilities.
As you down enemy minions and slay enemy Champs, you level up and gain gold, both of which allow you to enhance your abilities and strength. Leveling grants you access to more powerful versions of your skills, while gold enables you to buy items and gear that compliment your Champ’s playstyle and position.
The relationship becomes even more “on the nose” when you consider the existence of Junglers, a position that levels up purely by defeating NPC creatures scattered around the middle zones of the map.
To put it simply, LoL is a unique blend of genres. It takes the strategic elements of controlling a battlefield in an RTS and smashes it together with the fast-paced gameplay of an ARPG. The result is a highly competitive, adrenaline-fueled experience that’s almost wholly eaten the strategy genre’s lunch.
What Makes League of Legends Fun?
Placing aside all squabbles you’ve heard about the toxicity of LoL’s community, the game is fun to play.
For starters, the game has a vast roster of Champs from which to choose. A universe in which someone wouldn’t be able to find The One that fits their tastes is unimaginable to me, whether it be playstyle, visual, or both.
Enjoy sneaking around the shadows and striking down enemies before they know what hit them? You’ve got it. Prefer tanking boatloads of damage while your team does the dirty work? LoL offers that, too. Heck, there’s even a Champ designed specifically to be as annoying as possible (Curse you, Teemo!).
LoL also turns into an intense battle experience once the initial phase of a match has passed, where jockeying for vision on the map and taking objectives is key to grabbing the victory. Let’s not also forget team fights where you and your squad use the combined synergies of your skills to wipe out your opponents in an explosive all-out brawl.
Is League of Legends Difficult to Play?
In short, yes and no. And yes, it’s frustrating since it depends on your perspective and goals. LoL has been around for quite a few years now. Over 13 of them, to be exact. There’s no doubt that the lion’s share of players are quite experienced and leagues – pun intended – ahead of a fledging new player.
However, mechanics and controls-wise, it’s one of the easiest competitive PvP games to get to grips with. Each Champ only has four skills and one passive ability. On top of that, the game dishes out its most beginner-friendly Champs throughout its tutorial. Therefore, learning how to play isn’t hard.
The new player experience has generally been streamlined to the point where you don’t even need to worry about your item loadout when starting. The game will make suggestions based on other players’ choices for the same Champ.
All in all, as with all things where experience matters, LoL is a game where you’ll find yourself easily steamrolled by better players. Fortunately, there are a lot of friendly players out there who balance out the toxic screamers. Matchmaking works well enough to ensure you’re playing with people of the same skill caliber.
The best way to enjoy League, though, is when playing with friends. You get to dodge the drama completely and enjoy the game on your terms.