After much clamoring among players for a new map, Riot Inc.’s League of Legends will not only be treated to a new map, but also a new mode of gameplay in the form of Dominion, set to debut sometime in the coming month or two.
The DotA-based Free-to-Play game has long been using the classic 5v5 Summoner’s Rift and 3v3 Twisted Treeline maps and standard march down a lane, fight champions and minions, destroy the towers, inhibitors and then the nexus conditions for victory. With Dominion, Riot seeks to take things in a different direction by incorporating the long-standing FPS Capture and Hold mode into League of Legends gameplay.
The news comes as a surprise, considering the last bit of news LoL players received regarding a map was in 201o when Riot unveiled the Magma Chamber, another 5v5 map along the same lines of Summoner’s Rift with a higher emphasis on the laning phase of the game where farming for gold and outwitting and killing/denying the other team is normally done. As time marched on, LoL players never heard much more about the map save for concept art. Even today Riot has remained tight-lipped on the map and it has collected dust like that shiny new game that everyone was hyped for but never quite launched and now spends its time collecting dust at the developer’s studio.
With Dominion on the horizon, however, the lack of Magma Chamber may not even matter; considering Dominion offers a new map and a frenetic and unorthodox playstyle for LoL. From watching the video, Dominion’s gameplay reminds me of something action-packed, like…linking together multiple Hot Wheels track sets together in an intersecting and logical manner and then placing 10 Hot Wheels on the course, watching them narrowly missing each other at every intersection as they rocket along at 100 MPH.
Dominion’s map–known as Crystal Scar–will be another 5v5 map that appears to be slightly larger than the 3v3 map – Twisted Treeline. For those unfamiliar with the Capture and Hold style of play is an expansion on the King of the Hill game type where instead of controlling a single node in the middle of the map, you seek to capture and control as many nodes all around the map as possible. By capturing nodes around the map, players drain the health of their opponents’ nexus, completely draining the nexus leads to victory.
IGN’s Nick Kolan spoke more on the details of Dominion the other day. Dominion will not involve any sort of elaborate laning phase and less minions than one would see in Summoner’s Rift or Twisted Treeline. As such, players will begin each game starting at level 3 and with 1375 gold, allowing them to get a decent start on their item builds before throwing themselves headlong into the fray. Minions will also be worth more experience and gold than they usually are as well, meaning leveling up and building items will occur much faster than normal. As if making the minions worth more gold wasn’t enough, Kolan mentioned that gold accumulates in a much more rapid manner than normal, making it easier to becoming more effective earlier on.
Crystal Scar’s design features four concentric circles with paths connecting each “layer” of the map. The five nodes important to gaining victory are on the outermost circle. Moving inward one layer players have five Health Relics which regeneration buffs. Further in players will see Speed Shrines which enhance the player’s movement speed. Finally in the center of the map there are Greater Relics which give a yet-to-be-disclosed general buff to a champion. This design forces players to make a choice: to go get buffed and stronger for fights (leaving the nodes undefended) or stay at the nodes to hold off potential attacks (not getting buffs which could help in fights). Regular LoL players may have noticed the lack of mention of the jungle on Crystal Scar, that is because there is no jungle in Crystal Scar, with minions and champions being the only forms of income. The inner circles on the map also serve a tactical purpose in terms of juking pursuing champions, as the outermost circle is always revealed to both teams.
Kolan remarked on the short length of a couple of Dominion games he played. Games tend to not last as long as the standard 30-40 minute matches and the different styles of gameplay have led to some differences in the item shop. Some items have been reworked or replaced solely for Dominion mode to avoid any unbalanced situations. In addition, the nodes act as mini-towers, they attack any opposing player until they are in the process of being captured. Node capture in Dominion is actually quicker than the standard 30 seconds to one minute times we see in FPS titles, and it goes faster the more champions are capturing; of course taking damage also halts a champion from taking a node.
Kolan also said no champions will be banned from playing Dominion or be re-balanced for Dominion, and despite the apparent simplicity there is actually a level or two of complexity to the new game mode. “Domination is complicated, with a multitude of paths between each node, and a completely different mindset required to achieve victory,” Kolan said, “I played two full matches of Dominion, and I came away wanting to play many, many more. Having seen the way the mode functions, my mind was abuzz with all the tactical options and champion choices I could use. I honestly couldn’t wait to jump in and play more.”
Riot has announced Dominion will be open for expo-goers in both Europe and America this month. Those who attend GamesCom from August 17-August 21 in Europe and/or PAX Prime in Seattle, WA from August 26-28. They went on to mention that Dominion will go live and be available “shortly after PAX.” Hopefully that means League of Legends players will be seeing the implementation proper of Dominion sometime in early September.
For more information on Dominion including dates and possible launch date, check out Dominion’s home page