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E3 2011: League of Legends (Hands-On)

by: Tina -
More On: League of Legends E3 2011
Game: League of Legends
Developer: Riot Games

The developers at Riot Games, and our narrator, the Lead Champion Designer on the game, have a clear emphasis on catering to what their very large, very enthusiastic community has to say. Now, the next developments in place for League of Legends include not just three new characters, but a new game feature, as well. First, let’s introduce the three characters we heard about on the E3 showfloor.

The first character we were introduced to was Yorik the Grave Digger. Riot explained to us that League of Legends is very much about taking familiar archetypes and molding them into unique constructs in their own vision. One of their prized creations is Nocturne, a nightmare assassin who they managed to “push mechanical boundaries” with. Going off of the challenge of competing against such a design challenge, Riot decided they missed the archetype of a character that controls the undead. Hence, Yorik was born. He’s something of an undertaker; he summons ghasts during rituals to have them run amuck to help bring down enemies for Yorik to bash faces in with his (very appropriate) shovel. The ghasts will also have a lingering effect so long as they are on the playing field, although Yorik will constantly be digging these undead creatures up in the midst of his gameplay.

Leona the Radiant Dawn, the second character introduced at E3, is a female tank that the community has been calling for. But simply producing a female tank was out of the question. Based off of the desires of the community, Riot decided to style this tank more akin to a paladin. They originally designed a character with white and soft colors, and concentrated on the paladin-trademark of holy magic. Creating a spin on this traditional style character led the team to implement the power of the sun. Besides her flaming red hair, Leona can cast spells that stun enemies with sunbeams. In particular, she can summon a comet from the sky in which a huge beam will come down shooting down and stun everyone in the area.

Finally, Riot’s third champion to be introduced in League of Legends will be their scorpion-inspired Skarner the Crystal Vanguard. This bestial champion comes from the need to introduce a “monster” into the roster of playable characters. Rather than create something with burrowing style fighting and poisonous attacks, the team decided to design the Skarner as the leader of crystalline scorpions. Modeled somewhere between a fighter and a tank, his key ability will most likely be impaling his enemies with his tail, and dragging them, helpless, away.

While the new champions definitely fill the gaps of some archetypes that were previously missing in League of Legends, Riot has also decided to begin work on a new game feature that fans have been clamoring for. Spectator mode will bring the e-sports outlook of League of Legends a more sophisticated and useful alternative to the streams that are uploaded to own3D and Justin.tv. This mode has a completely custom UI perfect for watching, or even shout casting the game as they progress. Hot keys (1,2,3 and Q,W,E) are bound to each team so that you can easily jump back and forth between them. Clicking on someone’s portrait will do the same, and you can double click to lock in on them or hold it to have the camera follow a player of your choice.

The first time you’ll get to see this mode will be when it is shown off during the Season 1 finals of the $100,000 tournament. Although it will be released with the bare minimum features, the team plans on adding in new features and iterating as they let players experience the feature. You can look forward to gaining access to match made games (whereas you will begin with only having access to custom games), and having the option of clicking on recently deceased users to watch a recap of their deaths.

Spectator mode will have a scoreboard and, similar to jumping in on a football game, you can track the progress of the game no matter when you’ve come in because of this. The scoreboard will have information covering the kills per team, gold accumulation, and how many buildings are destroyed. Through this information, you can properly gauge how well each team is doing, how much raw power they have, and how far they have progressed in their goal to kill their enemy’s nexus. The scoreboard will tell you who is winning, by how much and how much time the losers have left to turn the game around.

Much like the recently released Tribunal feature (a realm in which you can judge other players’ behaviors and send them to punishment or release them from trial), Spectator mode is meant to allow you to be a part of the game even if you are not necessarily playing it. The best part is that Spectator mode will inevitably lead to Replays - another feature that fans have been asking for - being that the technology required will function as the building blocks to create that system.