League of Legends is my favorite game that you've probably never heard of. It's one of the games that I come back to time and time again when I'm not playing the newest releases. Team Fortress 2 falls into this category as well, but that's not what I want to talk about today.
League of Legends is based off of DotA, a custom map from WarCraft 3. In League two teams of 5 players fight each other across a map while eventually trying to destroy the enemy's base. Unlike in a RTS you're only in control of one unit, your hero. Heroes gain levels, buy items, and gain abilities as the game goes on. Along with the 10 heroes there are also "creeps." These are much weaker and only walk a set path between your base and the enemy's base. If the heroes didn't do anything then the two forces of creeps would cancel each other out. With the help of player-controlled heroes the creeps are able to "push" a lane and slowly take down the defenses on the way to the enemy's base. In a 5v5 game their are 3 separate lanes to push which makes lane management interesting because one lane is always going to be weaker than the other 2. All of this makes for a unique experience unlike an other genre out there.
On top of the gameplay there's also a meta-game where players are given levels, masteries, and runes. Levels unlock more mastery points and rune slots. Masteries function similar to talent trees in World of Warcraft. They give slight enhancements that can be customized to suit your play style but none of the masteries is game breaking. Runes give even smaller tweaks, but enough of them together can make a difference. Multiple rune pages can be set up for different types of heroes. For example I have one dedicated to spell casting heroes and one set up for physical attack heroes. Players also gain IP by playing games which can be used like cash in the League of Legends cash shop. IP can buy new heroes and runes.
League is one of my favorite games on the market right now. I've talked about it before, but I wanted to bring it up again because it just won a bunch of awards at GDC. Not only is League of Legends awesome but it's also free to play. There is also an optional cash shop but everything can be unlocked with in-game points if given enough time. Now is a great time to try League of Legends because a lot of new players are joining with the announcement of the GDC awards. With such a great game being free to play why not give it a shot?