This week in Nitpick, we’ll look at a game that’s causing a storm in the e-sports community: League of Legends. Perhaps you’re familiar with this game, and if you’re not, where have you been? E-sports has been on the rise for many years, but with the recent introduction of Starcraft II and League of Legends, it’s grown considerably in a short span of time. As great as e-sports is, that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about the learning curve and the methods the game uses, or doesn’t use, to teach its players about the intricacies of the game.
League of Legends is first and foremost a MOBA game that requires teamwork, effort, and a great deal of game sense. Sadly, the game does a horrible job of conveying any of these to you through the game’s innate design. Take champions, for example. As of now there are 99 champions in the game, and they serve to round out the various roles of the game. Each champion has a description that aptly portrays their characteristics. For instance, Ahri is a ranged, mage, assassin. While it properly describes what this champion is capable of, it does a poor job of providing what role the champion plays in the game.
The current meta divides the five champions per team into the following: a top lane champion who tends to be tanky, a jungler who can clear out the jungle with relative speed and ease, a caster that has great burst and magic damage for the middle lane, and a support and a ranged attack damage carry for the bottom lane. This is the standard for every play session if you hope to win. The problem that arises is where does Ahri fit into all of this? There’s no way to know other than through the input of the community, who designates where the champion belongs best. What’s worse about all of this is that the game doesn’t teach any beginners about the current meta or even what champions do best in a given lane. It’s all hectic and confusing.
Let’s use Swain to further add to this predicament. He’s a ranged mage just like Ahri, but he is not considered an assassin. What’s the differentiating factor between these two? Being an assassin, but what does that mean? Of course, I read that as quick burst damage with high mobility, but for a beginner this means absolutely nothing or something else entirely. Let’s make it even more complicated, shall we? What role does Swain fulfill? Perhaps the mid-lane role? To be honest, Swain fits more comfortably in the top lane than the middle due to him being able to stay in lane with ample amount of health and recovery moves. Once again, the game fails to demonstrate any of this to you.