League of Legends (LoL), is a Defense of the Ancients (DotA) game made by Riot Games. I have logged in countless numbers of hours into LoL during the past few weeks but not once did I think of it as an MMORPG until I saw this news feature on the League of Legends website. LoL was nominated for: Best MMORTS 2009 and Best New MMO 2009. After seeing this I wondered why people would consider LoL an MMO. Riot Games says that League of Legends is not technically an MMORPG but it does have a lot of similarities that these type of games offer.
So how exactly is a DotA game like League of Legends an MMORPG?
Your character in LoL is a summoner that can summon a champion of your choice onto the battlefields of Valoran. At the start of every match you can choose two utility spells out of a list of thirteen to use during the game. The spells vary from heals, extra movement speed, teleport, etc. At the end of every match you gain experience based on whether your team won/lost and your personal performance during the match. The max summoner level is 30 and for each level you gain you get a mastery point. Mastery points are spent on the three mastery trees which are: Offense, Defense and Utility. This allows you to customize your summoner to your play style. Adding in talent trees makes LoL very unique for a DotA game since everyone will have different mastery builds.
You also get influence points at the end of every match (which can be viewed as currency). Influence points can be used to buy champions you don’t currently own and also to buy runes.
Runes are items that enhance your champions traits and abilities. Summoners have a rune book where you can place certain runes in their respective slots. As you level up you get access to more rune slots in the book and higher tiers of runes. There are three tiers of runes that can be purchased with influence points and four different types of runes. The different types of runes are: Marks, Seals, Glyphs and Quintessences. The runes do various things like increasing attack speed, additional mana, bonus health regeneration, etc.
So is League of Legends an MMORPG? I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong answer. People will have their own ideas and views of what an MMORPG. If you search for “League of Legends MMO” you will find a lot of sites that view LoL as an MMO. Even sites like SK-Gaming (a well known team of professional E-Sports players that compete in games like: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc) refer to League of Legends as an MMO and points out that the game has many similarities which are found in MMOs. LoL is just one of those games that could be an MMO while at the same time it isn’t. What I can say is that it does have a lot of things that you would find and expect in an MMORPG like choosing spells, leveling up character, customizing mastery trees and buying items (runes) that increase a character’s stats/abilities.
For the record I personally don’t consider League of Legends to be an MMO/MMORPG. It does have some of the main traits that an MMORPG has but I just don’t consider interacting with nine other people (five vs five games) as a “massive” multiplayer game.