There's a new game mode on the way for League of Legends. It's called Dominion, and we got the chance to play it last week at a Riot Games press event here in San Francisco. The mode is a capture-and-hold game type, similar in concept to Relic's Dawn of War II multiplayer mode but with all the chaos of a League of Legends game. During the announcement, Travis Geroge, lead producer at Riot, explained how Dominion is much faster than the game's standard mode, with matches clocking in at about 20 minutes. "And there are no hopeless moments in Dominion," he added, "only heroic ones."
When you start a game of Dominion, both five-player teams are given a set number of points. The goal is to decrease the other team's point total to zero by capturing and holding the control points. There are five control points total located along the outer rim of a large, circular map called The Crystal Scar. The control points are also towers, and they will fire on you if held by the enemy. An enemy turret will stop firing once you start capturing it; however, if you get hit by an enemy champion while doing so, you will be interrupted and won't be able to start capturing the point again for a few seconds.
At the center of The Crystal Scar lies a pair of powerful new buffs, one for your team and one for the enemy. Each buff is a storm shield, which can be picked up by one champion on either team, and which offers both defensive and offensive benefits. It will provide a boost to defensive stats for your champion, as well as periodically strike nearby enemies with a bolt of lighting. The storm shield will recharge if you're not being attacked, but once it inevitably wears out, the buff will reappear back at the center of the map. Unfortunately, you can't swipe the opposing team's buff. That means the only way you can keep it out of their hands is to kill off their champions before they can even get to it.
In between the outer rim and the center are health relics and speed shrines. Health relics are similar to health items in a first-person shooter and provide a small refill to your champion's health and mana/energy. Speed shrines are platforms your champion can walk across to receive a temporary boost in movement speed. While there are no neutral monster camps on The Crystal Scar, the minion waves have been improved. Now each minion wave includes one new minion that falls between the standard and super minion types. Minions can also help your team capture a tower, but they will kill themselves soon after successfully doing so.
When our turn finally came to try out Dominion, we snatched up Karthus--a spell-casting hero known for his debilitating magic-based powers--and hit the field. In our arsenal was the new garrison summoner spell, which replaces fortify, the spell that would shield turrets. When used on an ally turret, this spell would heal degradation it took from an enemy capture attempt and make it fire faster. When used on an enemy turret, it greatly reduced the amount of damage the turret dealt. We could have also taken the promote summoner spell. Making its return in Dominion, promote transforms one of the new minion types mentioned earlier into a much more powerful version of itself.
To help encourage quick conflict in Dominion, every champion starts at level three with 1,375 gold. Within the first five minutes of being let off the platform, both sides were already fighting over capture points and racking up kills. There was very little time to relax at any point during the match. As soon as we advanced on one turret, we'd have to turn around and recapture another. Even finding time to kill off the enemy's minion waves for gold and experience was though. Once we started getting a feel for the mode, we found it was often better to let a kill slip by to guard or recapture a control point. Too often we would see players chase an enemy across the map only to have that enemy's teammate roll up and snatch our point away.
Just as Riot said, it was a close game right up until the end. Once it was over, we felt a little drained but ready for more. The match itself was essentially 20 minutes of the most intense moments from Summoner's Rift--the location of the game's primary five-versus-five game mode. We can't wait to dive back into Dominion, but Riot wasn't ready to reveal a release date. Nonetheless, we'll keep you updated as we learn more about this new mode.