Gaming My Way

17 Apr

League of Legends, Tribes: Ascend, and Accessibility in Games

Recently, I’ve picked up quite a few new (to me) games.  To be specific, those are Tribes: Ascend, Kingdoms of Amalur, Devil May Cry 4, Fallout 3: GotY, Sonic 4 Episode 1, Trine 2, and Magicka. I’ve spent the majority of my limited gaming time playing through Kingdoms of Amalur and learning the intricacies of taking out my enemies while blowing past them at 100-200 km/h in Tribes. I’ve also gone back to playing an old staple of mine, League of Legends.

Which brings me to what I want to write about today. While I think the complete package of League of Legends is the better game, I think Tribes: Ascend is more fun to play. How can this be? Well, it’s because Tribes is more accessible than LoL. There’s only one way to unlock the full potential of any character in LoL: get to level 30 to fully unlock your rune pages and masteries, and grind out the IP needed to buy the runes you want to use for your character. In Tribes, you still have to grind, but you don’t have to hit any specific level to fully unlock the features you wish to use for a given class. Get the XP, and spend it. In both games, naturally, you can pay real money to unlock new classes and options as well, but you can not spend real money to get upgrades, which must be bought with IP/XP earned in game.

In any case, in Tribes, I’ve played for a couple months, and unlocked all the stuff I need for my two favorite classes. Meanwhile, a couple years later in League of Legends, having put a lot more time into it, I do have a lot of characters and more options on what to play effectively, but none of them are yet at their full potential, as I’ve not yet hit level 30. This, of course, many players will jump to say I could easily be level 30 by now. And it’s true, if I played LoL more, I could be. But this misses the point entirely. LoL is much more of a time investment than Tribes is to get your favorite options up and running at their full power. This makes it less accessible.

Likewise, I tend to play Tribes more often because I can jump into a game whenever I want, against real people for opponents, without having to worry about getting my account suspended if something unexpectedly comes up that I’d rather be doing or have to do. In LoL, the only option to just jump in and play is against bots, and not only that, but even though bots of intermediate difficulty exist, they are not an option to fight against in custom games, the only game mode that exists for those wanting to play without a time commitment. This is because in League, any game you leave with at least one other human player involved counts against you, and accumulating too many in too short a time (specifics are not explained) will get your account suspended for leaving.

As was noted by a recent submission to this month’s blog carnival, MOBA’s and some of their players sometimes take themselves a bit too seriously. This, naturally, does not apply to everyone, but it applies to a large enough part of the community, not to mention the developers, that it’s hard to just play to have fun. Frankly, League could be a lot more accessible if normals would allow people to leave at any time, replacing them with a bot until someone else wanted to hop in and take over. Naturally, ranked could keep its rules as is, as ranked is typically the intended game mode for those wanting to take the game more seriously. But an option for more casual players that still want to play real matches with real players would go a long way to making the game more accessible.

Tribes, meanwhile, makes it easy to drop out if something comes up. Escape, exit game, and you’re out. Not only that, but you still keep any xp you earned during the match, a step I don’t think is necessary, but is certainly welcome. League developers would never consider such a thing. Add in the fact that a typical Tribes match takes place in about 10-20 minutes, while a typical League match is about 40 minutes (and if it runs long, you’d better have the extra time set aside if you don’t want to get closer to an account suspension), and you see how League requires more time investment even in the short term.

Naturally, there must be something that keeps me coming back to League, given the grievances I have with it. And there is. The large roster of characters, alongside rune and mastery builds, provides a huge variety of gameplay options. Not only that, but this also leads to more strategies and counter strategies depending on the characters involved in any given game. Furthermore, I really do enjoy the way the game evolves over the course of the match, and that it’s not the same thing throughout. This is, naturally, an upside to having longer lasting matches with objectives to take and tradeoffs to make. Tribes also has a good variety of gameplay options, but it does pale in comparison to what is offered by League in this area. Also, I prefer rpgs to shooters, and LoL, like most MOBA’s, carries over a lot of the rpg goodies, such as character growth throughout the match in the form of XP and items to purchase.

The long and short of it is this though. I like both games quite a bit. However, Tribes is far more accessible, both due to the nature of the game, and the way its growth system in the metagame is designed. As such, I tend to play Tribes more and have more fun with it, despite the fact it’s less my kind of game. It’s simply designed to be more inviting. League, while the game I prefer in terms of the actual game, is less accessible and harder to get into due to the time commitment needed, both for a single game, as well as to get your characters up to the point where you can realize their full potential and options available to them. Perhaps someday, LoL will pick up on the fact that a player base similar to me exists, and make sensible changes to get us in on the game in a better way than playing against beginner bots when we just aren’t sure if we have the time to commit, even though we think we likely do.


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