League of Legends: Beginner- "unfriendly"?
In this short tale of a LoL newbie, I describe and discuss my trials and tribulations when I came to first play this worldwide success of a videogame.
This being my first DriveTribe article, I'm surprisingly excited to have it be for the gaming section. A close friend of mine, Manav Pallan, encouraged me to begin writing articles for DriveTribe's gaming section because he himself contributes often to the car side of this site; he's a huge car fanatic and he's always spoken highly of this platform. So, I dedicate my first article to you, Manav. (You should definitely check out his page!)
Let me preface this by saying one thing: before I began to regularly play this game (about 3 months ago), I had heard of this game and had seen a bit of its gameplay and always wondered what the hype was about it. Seeing this game being played by thousands of Twitch streamers, amassing hundreds of thousands of viewers collectively - what made this popular game tick? After slowly being introduced to the game's mechanics, maps, objectives and a handful of champions by a few friends (you know who you are!), I felt relatively confident about going into the game's Summoner's Rift gamemode - its main attraction. The game went okay for me, but I was slightly unsettled by the fact that my friends were getting brutally insulted by other players about their gameplay style and contribution to the team's efforts. I was off, minding my own business, yet I felt I was not at the mercy of the game developers, but at the mercy of other players - and that I got off lucky.
This is where this game's community comes in. It's been labelled as "toxic" by countless players and even my friends think so: from childishly questioning your choice of champion to criticising how you're playing, what items you buy from the in-game shop when a match begins, the list goes on. Many players have felt as though they've been ostracised from the game for these numerous reasons; I can only fear the day that I feel the same.
Huge champion pool
League of Legends revolves around its characters. They range from run-of-the-mill humans to godly, thunder-harnessing polar bears, to age-old sentient trees, robots and a playable, LITERAL galaxy: again, the list goes on. One of the reasons this game seemed so daunting and simultaneously thrilling to me was the sheer number of playable characters. I knew it'd take me a good few months of constant playing to play a decent amount of every character (which I still haven't got round to).
Volibear: The aforementioned thunder-wielding polar bear. Rather intimidating.
Right now, my champion of choice is Mordekaiser, a necromancing warlord whose huge, iron armour is fused with and strengthened by the souls of his helpless enemies: his weapon, aptly named Nightfall, is forged from tormented souls and it hungers for more. Pretty edgy, right? I'd say he's a relatively simple champion to play but - like most of this game's cast - he's difficult to master. In the game's tutorial, you're given the choice of 5 champions: Ahri, a fox-like individual whose weapon is life itself, Darius, a Noxian warrior, Lux, a light-wielding mage, Master Yi, a ninja-like master swordsman, or Miss Fortune, a.... pirate. Players can choose from (as of this month) 151 champions and the list will continue growing as this 11 year-old game carries on its reign.
Mordekaiser, towering over mere mortal men.
Genre and mechanics
LoL is what's called a MOBA, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena; I'd never played one before League of Legends. It's estimated that around 30% of all of today's videogames are first-person shooters and these games are the ones I was always used to playing: CS:GO, Overwatch, even Minecraft. Getting stuck into this game took longer than I anticipated because I had to get used to this game's bird's-eye view, which you can see below.
Players have to get accustomed to seeing their character (and others) from a different perspective.
Instead of the traditional WASD control scheme that PC gamers have been used to since the early 90s, LoL adopts a QWER-DF control scheme, forcing players to have all 4 fingers next to each other. For me, this was quite a foreign concept and (as much as I'm embarrassed to admit it) I remember pressing the spacebar, wondering: "Why can't I jump?". League of Legends' controls add another layer to this game's difficulty for beginners - or at least for somebody that's never played a MOBA before.
In-game items and champion-specific runes
In order to succeed as an individual in this game, you cannot just bumble your way through a 40-minute game without buying items (which boost your champion's in-match stats) with in-game currency, simply named coins. As you can see below, there are probably over 100 items available for purchase, each of which have their own pros and cons. Some items synergise with specific champions, some don't.
Each item has its own cost and, the more expensive the item, the better. Generally.
Third-party programs such as Porofessor can help you with buying the right items for the champion you're playing.
Runes are other perks used to super-power your champ of choice: they can enable abilities such as healing when doing damage or reduce ability cooldowns. Again, third-party programs or specialist websites can help you select the appropriate and beneficial runes for your champion.
An example of a rune preset.
Your choice of runes can vastly affect your efficacy in a game of League of Legends, be it high-stakes competitive tournaments or just games with your friends. This is one thing that can be used as ammunition against you for "toxic" players: choosing the wrong runes.
Conclusion: Beginners beware?
I've been playing this game almost daily for the past few months and I've found it's given my friends and I another thing to do and talk about. I've become a member of the unfathomably huge community that surrounds this game and I must admit that I'm enjoying it - but do I only feel this way because I've got a few months' experience under my belt? I hate to say it but - yes, I think this is the only reason for it. My last intention is to scare people away from this amazing game, but I feel I need to inform people of the fact that they need to be resilient and patient when it comes to getting familiar with League of Legends. Don't feel daunted by other players pressuring you or questioning your gameplay - with time, and with some friends willing to show you the ropes, I guarantee you'll end up adoring this game and being addicted to it. (Just as I am).