Hextech Crafting went live on the League of Legends NA servers earlier today, along with a new “club” system that essentially allows you to have a clan/guild tag that displays in game. These seem to be the last bits promised for season six, outside of the other rotational game mode queue on weekends which is still in the works. But what is Hextech Crafting you might ask?
Well, to be quite frank, it’s just a lockbox system.
When I logged in this evening, there was a brief introduction to the system, that I foolishly forgot to screenshot. If you play the game you’ve likely already seen it. After clicking through that and then opening a free chest provided for demonstration purposes, I had the gist of it. I’ve always been the type of person who avoids lockboxes. If there is some sort of way to earn an in-game currency to open lockboxes, I’ll go for it when I can. I’ve done so in games like Call of Duty, where you eventually get enough cash shop currency to open a lockbox once in a while. I’ve not bought any in MMOs, but I’ve heard the complaints from communities, and it usually has to do with lockboxes containing pay to win items, such as gear and other benefits that actually affect gameplay. I’ve praised League of Legends for its cash shop implementation many times before, because they have an in-game currency and a paid currency, and the only thing you absolutely needed to spend real money on was skins. That has changed over the years, where Summoner’s Icons (like the monkey face one I have above), ward skins and bundles have been added for RP, but IP will buy the things that are necessary to play the game, like champions and runes. There is no pay to win scenario in League of Legend’s cash shop, and that hasn’t changed with Hextech Crafting.
One “premium” chest was given to everyone for free, and it contained multiple items. The normal chests pictured above only contain one item, but I assume there will be expansions upon the system as time goes on. Still, buying a chest with a key is next to nothing, and you have the possibility of getting some cool stuff that in some cases doesn’t seem to be on the store (I could be wrong there, or perhaps they’re legacy items from the vault). Again, this is still just for fluff items, and in the end you could just spend the 975 RP on one skin, or perhaps manage more by buying chests.
Of course there are the ethical issues plagued by all cash shops, in that there are whales out there and this will cater to their inner gambler. However, the prices seem fair and the idea that you can earn chests through game play (along with key fragments that will combine into keys to open said chests) means that you can still avoid paying real money, and now potentially earn skins in the process. Basically Riot just programmed a way to avoid purchasing RP into the game, so really it’s cash shopping done right, in this writer’s opinion.
I had an odd number of RP lying around from the last time I splurged on it, so I picked up two chests/keys. With that, I ended up with a couple of skin shards, a champion, and a ward skin shard. I also earned a key shard from getting a win this evening, which apparently can be combined to make a key if you have three of them.
Shards have a number of options to play with, but the obvious goal is to either use essence to permanently unlock that skin or champion, re-roll for a random skin, or disenchant so that you have essence to unlock something in the future. Riot was kind enough to give us 800 essence to start out with, so you can permanently unlock something right off the bat. Unfortunately I ended up with a Nocturne skin but already have one for him, and a Tahm Kench skin that I don’t really care for. I also ended up with Bard whom I already own and a ward skin I wasn’t thrilled with. So my first instinct was to try and reroll something.
However, you need 3 matching shards to reroll something. This means 3 skin shards, 3 champion shards or 3 ward skin shards. I didn’t have 3 in any of the categories, so at this point I’m stuck waiting for more chests, or buying more the next time I have a tiny bit of RP that I can’t spend on something else. Still, it seems like a fair system considering one more skin shard will get me a free skin. I can’t complain about that!
My overall verdict is that Riot is continuing to do free to play right, in a sea of games that have done nothing but make most of us hate the free to play model.