Updated Wed, Sep 28, 2011 by Stow
League of Legends Dominion is an entirely new mode for the MOBA, Dota-like, or whatever you want to call it genre. Just like the typical games, these pit teams of 5 champions each against each other while AI controlled minions push forward , with the goal being the destruction of the enemy Nexus base. The similarities pretty much end here though, as Dominion is a capture and hold style map, much like Arathi Basin of WoW fame or a variety of FPS games recently.
Now, since you don’t start at full power in these games and have to buy items and gain levels, you might think that such a mode really doesn’t work and would be passive, boring, and just silly for the genre. Surprisingly enough, they’ve overcome the pitfalls of the genre and created something new with it!
Controlling a single hero, you roam a map with 5 capture points in a star formation, fighting for control over the pivotal zones. Capturing is done by a simple channeling animation that takes a second or two to start up and has a slight cooldown, which prevents you from ducking in and out of range. Every little bit that you capture helps though, as it does ‘damage’ to the point until it is neutral or yours.
Rarely will fights breakout between points. People realize that rampant killing does nothing, which is astounding.
The points themselves function as defensive positions though, and the turret on them is no slouch. It does great damage that stacks further damage on each hit. The downside is that any opponent channeling a capture will disable the turret, but you can stop them with a simple smack of any sort of player-based damage. This leads to several point defense and offense mechanics of people diving onto the players defending, while another or all of the players alternate capture to disarm the turret from ripping them apart. There’s also the new ability Garrison, which either supercharges one of your turrets, or greatly weakens one for the enemy with an 8 second duration.
Power-ups litter the map, with short duration speed boosts available to all and constantly available inbetween points, and there are health packs located by the points and pivotal fighting spots that can be picked up for a quick burst of HP and mana. In the middle of the map, there is also a special buff that can be captured for each team. It gives a damage shield and on-hit lightning, and each one refreshes with time. It also makes the champion with it 50% larger and all the more intimidating!
New gimmicks and mechanics aside, the champions of League of Legends remain unchanged. They are exactly the same as their counterparts on the other 5v5 and 3v3 maps, and the changes to the core gameplay for them come from a slew of new items and a few removed items. The items are focused around making gameplay more active, and involve stuff such as stealth reveal and speed boosts, and take out some of the bigger defensive pickups such as Banshee’s Veil, which blocks a spellcast every 45 seconds and encourages more defensive play.
Unlike the other primary map, bots are not available here yet. If you’re going to fight here, you have to fight players. The good news is that a game of this will rarely go beyond 20 minutes simply because of how the game works—each team has 500 points that decreases with deaths, and anytime that they control less points than the enemy, it decreases over time. There are points where each team will control 1 or 2 points and the scores won’t decrease naturally, but the vast majority of the time, someone will be losing and a stalemate is impossible. Thus, your times being stuck with bad teammates are much less painful than the possibly hour long games of Summoner’s Rift, the traditional game of League of Legends.
While all champions and spells remain the same, the Dominion map itself is infinitely more vibrant in color and variety than the other maps of the competition and within League of Legends itself. The action is all too familiar, but the greatly enhanced effects of items such as Odyn’s Veil and Hextech Sweeper makes combat a little bit prettier. It’s no overhaul, but Dominion does look better than the base game from both a technical and aesthetical point… but it still has nothing on the paid players like Heroes of Newerth and the Dota 2 looming on the horizon.