There are hundreds of games on display here at E3 2009, including League of Legends: Clash of Fates. League of Legends is a hybrid strategy/role-playing game descended from the Warcraft III modification Defense of the Ancients, which was a team-based, competitive multiplayer online mod. Like in DOTA, you control a single hero character in League of Legends (rather than an army of archers, tanks, or what have you), giving move and attack orders and using a handful of special powers unique to your hero character to either aid your teammates or attack the opposing team. Meanwhile, small armies of computer-controlled grunts (or "creeps") periodically pour out of spawn points belonging to either team to fight enemy creeps and be killed by enemy heroes for experience points and gold. Gold can then be spent at the game's item shop (which appears near the early-game spawn point where your hero first starts out).
Who's Making This Game: Riot Games, a relatively new studio that includes talent from Blizzard Entertainment as well as the mod community that created DOTA.
What the Game Looks Like: The game looks like a bright, colorful fantasy real-time strategy game such as Warcraft III or Age of Mythology. The characters are stylized in a cartoonlike fashion, and many of them are offbeat reinterpretations of standard fantasy archetypes, such as a samurai warrior who wears technogoggles. The game's graphics have been updated since the last time we saw them; now, hero characters and creeps are cel-shaded, which makes them more easily visible on the map.
What There Is to Do: Kill, gain levels, buy stuff, use abilities, kill some more. This is all the action elements of a real-time strategy game boiled down to a single character with some light RPG elements tossed in. There will also be an external metagame, because your character's avatar, a "summoner," will be able to acquire new apparel items as well as new spells and abilities for your heroes in battle. The game is currently in a beta state, with about 23 hero characters currently in play; at launch, executive producer Marc Merrill says that the game will have more than 40.
How the Game Is Played: Like in Defense of the Ancients, you start off at a spawn point on one end of the map near an item shop, where you can buy weapons, armor, and consumable items (such as healing potions)--many of these items can be combined as recipes into more-powerful items, such as improved boots of speed. You then sally forth and look to destroy as many enemy creeps, hero characters, and enemy structures as possible. However, enemy turrets are extremely damaging and are best tackled only if you have allied creeps to hide behind, or if your hero character has some kind of mitigating ability, such as temporary invulnerability to damage. Destroying people, places, and things nets your hero gold and experience, and bringing down buildings will also earn experience bonuses for your team. In our play session today, League of Legends seemed just as fast-paced and frantic as it was when we last played the game, in a good way.
What They Say: League of Legends will be run less as a retail game and more as an ongoing online service, though the exact details of pricing and postrelease updates haven't been finalized.
What We Say: League of Legends looks more cleaned up and complete than when we last saw it, though apparently, the interface that we saw (which resembled a pretty standard multiplayer online matchmaking interface) will be overhauled shortly. The game is scheduled for release this September.