Easing Into Riot’s Games

Somehow or another it’s been over a week since my last post. Honestly don’t know where that time went. I have been playing a ton of games though, and a bunch of MTG to boot, so I do have some drafts floating around in various states. Still figuring out where blogging fits into my life at this point, seeing as how I’ve had some swings in momentum for the last 6 months. Whatever the case, I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to talk about Riot Games.

The last time I did so, I wrote about the company’s 10 year anniversary and their livestream with a bunch of announcements for a bunch of different games they have in development. It seems they are aiming at being more than just the company that produces League of Legends. Since then, I hadn’t really played the game, but in the last month or so I have dipped my toes back into their content. The main reason for the renewed interest was finding out a few of my co-workers still play, and though they are much younger and definitely less rusty than myself, it’s been a reason to play. I like the camaraderie that comes from actually knowing the people you’re playing with. The one co-worker in my department actually has a friend list with people he actually knows, so we’ve gotten nearly full groups a couple of times and all get on Discord to bullshit while we run through matches. Another reason I’ve been engaged is that the URF (Ultra Rapid Fire) mode has been running for a good long time, and it’s always been a blast. We jam a few games several times a week and though I haven’t played any normals or ranked yet, but we’ve already to talked about doing so after URF rotates out. I would share more stats and figures but at this point I don’t really have anything brag worthy. I think I’ve earned one S rank the entire time and more low grades than I care to share. Thankfully the friends are pretty good and oftentimes carry me, but I am pleased with my progress. I’ve knocked quite a bit of the rust off and I think when we do drift towards ranked play I should be good to go. I will miss the max CDR and infinite mana, but I’ll adjust again.

Something that surprised me was my interest in playing Teamfight Tactics again. Riot’s spinoff Auto-Battler was in beta last I had checked, but recently fully released. I tried it out last year during the beta, and shared some thoughts. I wasn’t too fond of it, or the genre in general. Initially I played DOTA Underlords and because I don’t have a relationship or investment into DOTA I wrote it off pretty quickly. When a game that I adore made its own version I thought I would enjoy it, but it turns out I just didn’t really understand what I was doing. This is a product of not really giving it a fair shake along with really only using the experience for blog fodder.

Upon its full release, Teamfight Tactics did some overhauling to the systems of the game, and I thought I might as well check it out since I didn’t give it much of a chance in the past and my friend was talking it up as being really good. One day I finally logged in and gave it a shot. I ended up playing nearly the whole day. I’m not sure what the actual issue was in the past, but I now consider myself a fan. One advantage it has over traditional LoL is the fact that there aren’t any twitch requirements which I recall thinking was a bad idea, but in fact makes the game more relaxing. Once you start to understand how the various elements and classes work together, how item builds work and which champions tend to be better than others in various situations, it really does feel like a chess match, except you’re playing against more than one person so the strategy intensifies. My only real complaint is that sometimes the AI is stupid with its targeting system, but I have come to understand that it is working as intended, and that the characters follow particular rules for targeting. For example, when a low health enemy hides behind a higher health champion that happens to be closer to yours, yours will target the high health character when every shred of rationale is screaming to kill the other champion first. Whatever the case, it’s been a blast and I intend to continue playing it for the foreseeable future. At this point I’ve done two of my five placement games in ranked and I’m hoping to make a climb.

Lastly, one of the other games announced last year has entered beta as well, and that’s Legends of Runeterra. I went ahead and signed up and downloaded the client (which is currently separate from Riot’s launcher, though I imagine it will be integrated at some point). My initial impressions are positive, but there is one negative. Overall the game looks like it will be good fun. There’s a fair mix of CCG elements we’ve seen in other games (feels closest to Elder Scrolls Legends and Hearthstone but only in particular ways) and League of Legends characters. Riot’s rich lore lends itself to other genres quite nicely, it seems. The negative aspect was the fact that there is a fairly long tutorial (which I appreciate them having) and while I was playing I got through multiple steps, the game then crashed and I was forced to start over. I assume at some point there will be an option to skip this, but I didn’t feel like starting over and have not played since. Granted, that was only within the last couple of weeks, but I just haven’t gotten back around to it. I do intend to give it a fair shake though, because I don’t want to overlook it too soon just to write about how much I enjoy it later.

So yeah, I’ve not had as much to write about as a result of spending more time gaming. I’ll get working on these other drafts soon and give y’all something new to read. Until then.

League of Legends Ports and Other Riot Games

I can’t recall the actual day, but recently Riot Games had a 10th anniversary livestream featuring League of Legends and other stuff. First of all, what an accomplishment to keep LoL going for ten years and building the Esports community up around it. Professional play has gone from some nerds in back rooms of warehouses to huge arena-filling events with famous live performers and a quality of production rivaling ESPN and other mainstream outlets — all of this on what I’m sure is less income and all done over the Internet eschewing traditional TV outlets. I started playing LoL back in 2011 which was around the end of season 1 heading into season 2. I’ve seen the majority of the champions release, I’ve seen a ton of events and in-game happenings along with changes to the game, its launcher, the main maps/modes, and Riot itself. I’ve watched the World Championship nearly every year since I first heard about it. I’ve watched regular season games of each of the major regions, even participating in their Fantasy League (like Fantasy Football) for a couple of seasons. I’ve collected vinyl figures, owned T-shirts, and have a rather large poster hanging on my wall. You could say League became a major part of my life, despite the fact that I haven’t really played very regularly in the past couple of years. Still, when I heard the news coming out of this live stream, I knew I had to talk about it. To be fair, there’s even more that was announced that I’m not going to touch on, but IGN has a great article encapsulating all of the news.

What excited me the most out of all that was said during the live stream was that League of Legends will be ported to consoles and mobile. Called “Wild Rift,” this version of League is not a direct port, it’s the same game rebuilt from the ground up for these other devices. I’m not a huge fan of complex games on mobile phones because usually the screen isn’t big enough and touch controls can be pretty wonky… but on console, I’ll play the shit out of this. It’s not so much that I dislike the game on PC, no, I’d rather play it there. But I have friends who don’t own PCs and probably never will, along with having never played LoL before and I’d love to introduce it to them. Also, the potential for a nice long trophy list makes the trophy whore in me lick his lips. I did play a different MOBA on PS4 recently and it had some fairly intuitive controls, so I assume if they are anything like that, this version of the game will be very enjoyable even with a controller in lieu of keyboard/mouse.

Teamfight Tactics, which I wrote about when I first tried it (and I’m still not into this auto-battler genre) is getting ported to mobile now as well. This makes sense since their main competitor DOTA Underlords is also both on PC and mobile. I assume this would probably be more fun on a mobile device since you can be doing other things while playing it. I get bored too fast with this type of game so this news wasn’t particularly interesting to me.

Legends of Runeterra is new. It’s not an existing game getting ported to other devices. It’s free-to-play. It’s a card game. That’s really all I know. The above trailer will give more detail than I can. What I do know is that I do enjoy card games. I just haven’t really found a digital one that I can play for a long term. I did play Hearthstone for quite a while, but then it got stupid (as Blizzard games tend to do). I can’t get into any of the Magic: The Gathering digital versions because I simply like playing the paper version so much more. This is a world/lore that I enjoy, and depending on what they do to make this stand out from the competition, this could finally be the card game I play when I need a fix.

Project A, as it’s being call at this juncture, is Riot’s attempt at a tactical FPS, but also looks to be a hero shooter. So think games like Paladins or Overwatch. I’m intrigued by this one, mainly because it’s such a far cry from a MOBA and this company has only been known for one game for so long. A card game based on the world is great and all, but I’m a FPS player through and through, so this is very appealing. My hope is that they do something different enough to make this feel better than existing games on the market. Graphically it looks okay, but I think that will get bumped up a notch when it gets closer to release. Gameplay looks fine, but I want some heroes with crazy abilities and I want tight gunplay. I’d also like to see some objectives and things that are different from what’s out there, but time will tell. Keeping an eye on this one.

Project L was announced as a fighting game. If this is 2-D hand drawn and plays like a Street Fighter title, I’m all in. If we’re looking at more of a Tekken style fighter, I’m less excited. We’ll have to wait for more details but I love me a good fighting game and Riot has already developed so many cool characters I’d love to fight as them. It’s unknown if that’s what’s happening or if all of the characters would be original. Also keeping an eye on this one.

Lastly, stuff that isn’t game related. A documentary about LoL called “League of Legends: Origins” was released on Netflix the other day and I watched it. It was a really good look into the origin of the company via Ryze and Tryndamere, along with the rise of the game itself and Esports. Basically all stuff that I lived through, but fun to see it in a different context. If you haven’t paid attention to LoL or Esports, or just don’t “get it,” I’d recommend giving this a watch. Also, an animated series called “Arcane” is being developed and looks to deal with stories about LoL characters. You can watch the trailer above, it looks really cool and I’ll definitely watch it when the time comes.

That’s all I’m going to touch on today, but some exciting stuff coming down the pipeline. There were a few other tidbits in the article I linked at the beginning of this post, so if you haven’t had your fill you can read more there. What do you guys think about Riot Games finally branching out?

Thoughts on Team Fight Tactics

About a month ago, I shared some thoughts I had about an emerging genre – called Auto Chess or Auto Battlers, and my experience with the beta of DOTA Overlords. I really had no idea what to expect with this particular game or the genre as a whole. The name relays the fact that something automatic is happening, but other than that it’s a far cry from the real-time combat and tactics of DOTA 2 that it is named and modeled after. What I found was something that is nothing like Chess either, outside of having a chess like board to place your troops on. I wasn’t overly impressed with DOTA Overlords, but I attributed that to the fact that it was something new, it was still in beta, and I honestly don’t know much about DOTA itself to really know what these characters were going to do.

Given that DOTA Overlords was based on characters from DOTA 2, it was fitting that another game company famous for MOBAs would make their own version of the game. Enter Riot Games with Teamfight Tactics. This is the same style of game, but essentially reskinned with League of Legends assets. It plays in a similar fashion, but I’m sure there are some differences that the more trained eye would catch. I know that I was able to make it further in a game of Overlords than I was this title, so it seems to have a more difficult learning curve. Honestly I didn’t play all that much, I just wanted to check it out and share what I found, but I have to say that I’m not really a fan of this genre. I like controlling my character and using intellect and reflex to outplay my opponents. Watching a squad of characters I threw together perform actions without input from me feels like less of a game and more of a chore.

I prefer the visual style of this game over the DOTA version. That’s probably a personal bias though, and not reflective of anything — the graphics aren’t too far off from each other as it is.  The gameplay is exactly the same from what I saw. You get some money each turn, you’ll fight against some creeps to get more money, then you’ll take turns having battles with single opponents until someone’s life total is reduced to zero. It takes far too long to complete matches and I get bore far too easily for this shit. You’ll gain the ability to play more heroes, upgrade them (it doesn’t appear that there are items, so there’s a difference for ya) and I found that despite my knowledge of LoL characters, I really wasn’t able to put together a squad that would get me very far.

Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a game that someone out there will enjoy. People who suck at League would likely be able to play this more ably due to the complete lack of twitch skills required. At this point, the first determination should be if this style of game even appeals to you, and from there I’d probably point you in the direction of which MOBA appeals to you more, then play that developer’s version of the game. Outside of that though, I can’t really recommend it.