Game: Path of Exile
Length of play session: 30 minutes
Fun level (-10 to 10): 0
Path of Exile is an online, cooperative, loot-based dungeon-crawling action RPG in the vein of Diablo. In many ways it could be considered the true sequel to Diablo II, as it shares many of the same philosophies (which Diablo 3 threw out).
I played Path of Exile because my friend needed my help in getting through some end-game content. I have already spent greater than 500 hours on playing the game (many of these being very recent), so I rarely feel much joy or excitement while playing at this point. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that my most powerful character is summoner-type that is very non-interactive (I walk around and use a single spell every 7 seconds).
At this point, nearly all of the fun I experience from the game comes from getting rare drops or flipping equipment/currency for large profits. If neither of those two things happen during a session, I feel very little while playing. Neither of those ‘objectives’ happened this play-session, so I felt very little while playing. I simply helped my friend in what he needed to do and logged off.
Game: League of Legends
Length of play session: 2 hours
Fun level (-10 to 10): 4 (average across 3 separate matches)
League of Legends is an online game in which five players fill out the roles on a team in an attempt to defeat an opposing team of five by defeating their characters and destroying their structures.
In my first match this session, I played the support role for the first time in a year. I was elated, and having great fun. I was on the bottom side of the map supporting our team’s carry role player. Interestingly, our bottom lane opponents had chosen the exact same support and carry characters, so we played a perfect mirror matchup. Usually this is terrible, as whichever duo gets a small lead will be able to snowball it without the ability for the other side to counter-play. In this instance, though, our bottom-side match went almost completely even. Neither duo had an advantage over the other, which caused each situation to be delightfully stressful.
Overall, my team came out ahead (thanks in part to my mid and late-game shot-calling). It felt good to be an integral part of my team’s success, especially since my team was friendly and cordial. It’s not often that teams of random players in this game will properly follow any one player’s shot-calling, so this was an incredibly happy surprise. Being able to outsmart the enemy team through my strategy, rather than having to brute-force carry the game, is my favorite aspect of team strategy-based games. I usually feel unmotivated to continue playing after a single match, but this game gave me great motivation to continue.
That did not turn out to be a good thing.
In my second match of League of Legends, the carry I was supporting was not very good. He played too far forward, leading to several of his own deaths, and a fed enemy duo. My hopes were high, though, as the rest of my team across the map was doing quite well. I was sure we had a very good shot of winning throughout the game, but my team kept over-extending and getting picked off one by one. A good lead turned into an even game, and then to a terrible deficit. It was the kind of match that leaves you with a feeling of hollow disappointment at the end. I know we could have won had our team had any cohesion, but it was just not there, and there was nothing to be done within the span of one match.
The last match I played was a ranked match; the final ranked match I needed to win to get to the next rank up. I had been that single game away from ranking up for several months, due to putting it off to focus on school in the summer. The game was a not-so-slow defeat. Despite my lane partner and I winning our lane unsubstantially, our team was completely choked out of every objective across the map. One of my teammates was on-tilt, and stated he should kill himself after he overextended and died to 3 enemies for the 12th time. Being an ever-supportive and positive fellow, I responded with a swift “nah”.
Strangely, I felt more at peace losing this three-month-in-the making promotional series match than I did the previous one. Surely, I went into that game expecting to be able to pull out a win, or I wouldn’t have played it. Maybe, after three months, I just couldn’t care all that much if I won or lost it.
Game: League of Legends
Length of play session: 5 hours
Fun level (-10 to 10): 7
League of Legends had a new update, which introduced a new five-man PvE game mode known as Onslaught. It functions very similarly to a traditional MMO raid, where the players choose from a selection of DPS, mage, tank, and support characters to battle together through several levels and bosses with different mechanics. As always with new events, there were special rewards for clearing the new game mode. The best reward was given upon completion of a perfect run (quick, deathless, and completion of bonus objectives).
I had a lot of fun playing this mode and completing the challenges. A part of that fun was definitely due to the mode containing all new maps, enemies, and gameplay styles. The mode was very fresh and quite exciting. I believe, though, that a majority of that fun was due to the less-competitive nature of the game. My teammates seemed much less stressed in Onslaught than in a regular match, and the level of friendliness was far higher. Overall, this more laid back atmosphere led to a massive increase in enjoyment. The games were still tense, as micromanaging your character was very important to the success of your team, but the competitive side of the game was gone.
Despite spending four hours one night attempting to get completion for a perfect run, I was unable to do so. The next morning, I searched for a team and easily completed it in a single attempt. While this did feel a bit anti-climactic, I actually felt really proud of how well this random group of four other people and I worked together, knew how to play our roles, and succeeded without a worry.
After competing the Onslaught mode challenges, and receiving the rewards, I played a single ranked match. It was a weird match. My lane partner was enraged at me the whole time, purposefully left his computer, sold all of his items, and then repeatedly ran into the enemy team so they could kill him and obtain a lead. Despite my lane carry’s best efforts, the rest of my team was doing incredibly well. We ended up winning the game in what was essentially a 4v6 rather than a 5v5. I Felt a lot of pressure to support my team well to show them that I wasn’t the terrible player my lane partner was accusing me of being.
I played very well in that match, and came out feeling accomplished. Being able to spite my teammate’s best efforts to make us lose made that game more fun. I learned that the fun of proving an idiot wrong can overcome the annoyance at their incessant shit-talking.
Path of Exile. Grinding Gear Games. 2013. Video game.
League of Legends. Riot Games. 2009. Video game.