A small selection of character options in LoL.
Note Cho'Gath (far right), he's a badass.
Some of you might already know about this game. Some of you may have played it in the past, or some of you might play its competition, Heroes of Newerth. Either way, it's a great game for an introduction to the world of DotA (Defense of the Ancients, a map for Warcraft III, the Frozen Throne)-like games due to its free to play nature. The game itself is similar in style to HoN and DotA, but with a couple of small differences. The possibility to hit your own creeps, which are the means that the enemy team levels up and a slight defence for your towers from enemies and enemy creeps, in order to prevent your enemies from gaining experience from that kill has been removed. The towers also do a HEAP of damage at low level, and even at higher levels it can still take huge chunks off your HP. These two things combined make it so the game is a lot more forgiving - you can retreat to tower range and not be tower-dived and killed by a beefy champion, and not having to last-hit not only your enemies' creeps, but also your own, removes a good piece of the intense micromanagement in the other games.
Another important difference is the character unlocking. Not all of the characters are unlocked from the start - champions rotate every week, giving you (almost forcing you if you don't have the influence points (more on this in a moment) to purchase them) a chance to play more than a single group of champions that you might pick on a steady basis. Influence points are used to purchase characters, awarded by both winning and losing games against other players or bots. Riot Games has a point exchange system as well - you can purchase Riot Points in certain tiers for money, but it isn't necessary to do so. All characters can be unlocked with IP and a bit of patience.
The final gameplay changer is the meta game - Masteries and Runes. Masteries work like a talent tree from MMOs, giving you access to different talents for your character to use. These tie in with several usable 'Summoner Spells' that can assist your character, like Ghost, which grants temporary movement speed and removes unit collision, and Exhaust, which slows enemy champions and causes their hits to miss more frequently. Both are good escape mechanisms, and are amongst several other spells that you may select pre-game to assist you.
The Masteries page - this build is what an offensive
spellcaster would look like.
Runes are a similar story to masteries, except that they are purchased through IP and only IP. Riot Points cannot be used to unlock them, as Riot Games does not wish to 'directly sell power', as they put it. Their effects are permanent until changed, and range all stats and utilities.
The Rune Page window, empty for the moment.
All in all, I would say that League of Legends is a good introductory game if you aren't willing to pay the price for either Warcraft III or HoN, or aren't willing to wait for DotA II's release in the future. Personally, I play the game because, while I enjoy it and am now familiar with the genre as a whole, I'm not willing to pay the money for HoN for several reasons that I won't go into in this post. Each game has its downfalls, but for me, League of Legends' ups outweigh its downs. I highly recommend this game to anyone who has never tried it - or if you've stopped playing, get back in the swing!