Anyone that’s been following the MMOcast since the beginning can probably name the one non-MMO title that I’ve been playing, League of Legends. While I may be “doing it wrong,” Riot Games, the developer of the free-to-play DotA clone, has done everything right. It has drawn in hundreds of thousands of players and produced new content, including maps, modes, skins and numerous champions on a near-weekly basis. During this incessant patching, be it balance or content, Riot Games has kept a laundry list of upcoming features on its website. Yesterday, it crossed off a big one, perhaps the biggest of them all, the introduction of Ranked Games and Season One.
Feature-wise, the Season One patch adds these major changes: ranked games, ladders and a draft (to ranked games only). The first two are self explanatory. The draft adds that little bit of extra strategic decision making to the pre-match that has been promised for sometime. All ranked matches enable each team leader to ban two champions from use. After four champions have been banned, the teams begin picking their chosen warriors. Unlike normal or practice games, the choices are exclusive, a champion can only be represented on the field of battle once, and their viewed by the opposing team. It’s not a roll of the dice, “I hope our team is constructed better” guess. Players, smart players, can counter a selection to form a team with a smidgen of advantage. Strategic bliss begets tactical victory.
As if the launch of Season One and the race to the $100,000 purse wasn’t enough, Riot Games delivered an out-of-game User Interface and community site overhaul. The new UI is very new-age Valveish, meaning slick looking. It contains about the same amount of game information within itself as before, but in an easy on the eyes, all-in-one kind of layout. One blatant addition is the link to the surprisingly deep lore that is maintained for the universe. Functionally, it’s about the same. It’s nice to look at, and presented in a sharp way, but there are some glaring omissions.
Four small gripes:
- An item database needs to in the UI. That’s far more important than anything on the current “Honey, Do List.”
- The patch notes should be given their own section, not relegated to fast moving news headers.
- Speaking of the news line, stop sending me back to the webpage to view basic news. Add an in-client browser (again, like Valve). I’m already a player if I am at the client, you don’t need the traffic.
- The revamp means the user interface uses more computer power, so I can’t explore stats or AFK on my netbook easily.
Oh, and let’s not forget the recently released series of skins. It’s nice to finally see some truly unique outfits, rather than simple color palette swaps a la Mortal Kombat. I think I may just have to pick up my first completely useless item for real money ever. Damn you, artist of Ashe’s latest skin!
/me is off to gank in the weeds.