Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Playing for Free: League of Legends

If you haven't been gaming under a rock for the past couple of years, you've probably heard about League of Legends.  If you haven't played it,  you can sign up for an account here.  You may have heard about how passionate the community is, the cheating at last week's world championships, and the folks that drop an insane amount of cash into it.  But the game says, "Free to Play."  Is this a game that you can actually play without spending a dime? Over the past six months, I've been putting this very question to the test.  And now, I'm here to post my results.

League of Legends rotates through a group of champions every week, which you can play without unlocking.  Every week will be different, every week will have you trying something new.  This is a great way to try out a champion before you actually commit to buying it, and a good way to figure out what you like to play.  This also lets you build up enough Influence Points, or IP, to buy the champion you really want.

Using the "free to play" rotations for the first couple of weeks, I learned which champions I liked to play, and which ones weren't so fun.  I played the tutorial like everyone else, learned how Ashe works, and then started in on the realm of PvP.  After fiddling around for a while, I settled on Mordekaiser, running him as an AP mid, based off of the guides from MobaFire. Once you pick a champion you like, it's very easy to not spend any IP for a significant amount of time.  Players who like to have a variety of champions, well...then things get a little tricky for them.  There's a long grind ahead to get enough IP to buy all the champions that are currently available.  Of course, there's always a faster alternative...

There's an ounce of truth to this Penny Arcade strip.  It's very easy to get sucked in to buying riot points for all those awesome skins.  There's a new sale just about every week, with skins and champions on sale for as much as half off.  Not to mention the cost of unlocking champions with IP alone is insane.  It's doable, but it's insane.  After a while of grinding for that new champ, you will be tempted to just shell out some riot points for him or her and be done with it. I would know. I felt it.  Each sale tugs at your wallet, especially when there's an awesome or funny skin on sale that would be so totally cool to have when you play that champion.

I have a bit of a confession to make regarding this article.  I did buy some riot points, as I had a voucher to burn at Best Buy and nothing else really catching my attention.  So yes, I did buy riot points and yes, I did buy some alternate costumes with it.  Was it worth it?  I guess so.  I'm kind of on the fence about it.  I mean, yes, Arcade Sona and Pool Party Ziggs are freaking sweet.  Reverse Annie is delightfully hilarious.  But is it necessary to play the game? I don't think so.  It's still cool to look at, though.  But it leaves me wondering why I spent that money in the first place.

Riot Games will try to get you to buy riot points every chance they get.   They post all sorts of enticing offers and throw everything they can at you to get you to be a paying customer.  Fortunately, You can get away with not spending any cash to play this game.  While it might expedite your progress and give you some awesome items in return, it's not a necessary thing.

Yes, you can play League of Legends for free.  It's difficult, but it can be done.  Give it a go, if you haven't already.

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