League of Legends has been around for a few years now and it’s been riding the waves of success on only one game type and two maps. No small feat in and of itself, considering the game is free to play. Recently, however, Riot Games released a new map and game type into it’s MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) product, and the results have been nothing short of stellar.
League of Legends: Dominion arrived just before October, and it gives the MOBA genre a fresh coat of paint. Typically what you see in a MOBA style game is three lanes occupied by turrets, minions and your character. The object is to take out the enemy base by destroying the towers and pushing your lane forward. It’s an intense 5v5, 45 minute, PvP oriented game type of map control, team fights and communication.
Dominion trims the fat, so to speak, of the classic (but forever popular) game style, opting for more action and faster gameplay, leading to around 20 minute game times.
The objective in Dominion is to capture and hold three or more of the five capture points to reduce your opponents life bar. When it hits zero, you win. The map is incredibly different from the classic mode, opting for a circular playing field over a square one. Within the map are speed boosts, health packs and a two relics (one for each team) in the center that gives some decent buffs to the person who claims it.
These seemingly small aspects add up quickly to showcase the new, and much faster playing, game mode and the strategies that come with them. Hitting a speed shrine can mean the difference of your team holding a capture point, saving a team mate or making a hasty retreat while snagging a health pack might just mean the difference between your life or your enemies.
There are other aspects designed around the action packed mindset of Dominion as well. Characters start at level three with more gold than the classic game type, gain more gold per second, gain experience passively, and have increased stats at the start of the game. New items are in the shop to utilize on your character, too. These are all welcome changes that further distinguishes Dominion from its classic counterpart.
Because of Dominion’s frenetic, but incredibly fun nature, match momentum can shift from one team to the other in an instant. For example, a small skirmish may breakout in the middle of the map so you move in to help. As the team fight evolves to envelope what you think to be everyone, you see one enemy trying to capture the point you just came from. You try to double back, but you’re caught in the crossfire of the team fight. Regardless if you win the described encounter or not, your attention is now focused on the capture point under attack, effectively changing the strategy for your team.
Such is the importance of defending in Dominion. A good offense is a strong defense, and while that seems counter-intuitive to design goals of the game type, it’s not. If your team isn’t on the offense the other team will be, as they need to capture a point to start reducing your life bar. Once they converge on the capture point, it’s strategy and chaos, all rolled into one. Which capture points to defend? Which ones to push on? Will a high mobility character try to back door a capture point?
In the classic game type a mistake might mean grave misfortune for your team, especially late in the match. Mistakes carry far less weight in Domnion, however. Attacking an enemy you might beat in classic becomes an almost sure decision here. Committing too many errors can still cost your team the match, but they feel less pronounced, and comebacks are always a possibility in Dominion.
Riot Games hasn’t reinvented the wheel with Dominion, as the capture and hold game type has been done before. What Riot has done, however, is successfully integrate it into League of Legends. Dominion does a lot of things right to produce a faster and more aggressive game type, but above all else, it’s fun. And for a free to play game, that’s a great accomplishment.