League of Angels is a free-to-play browser based MMO(RPG). While far from perfect, I find it to be more enjoyable than some games I’ve paid to play. The following are some of my general observations about the game as a whole.
The game is set in a fantasy world where the guardian angels of various lands have been imprisoned. Your job as the hero in the story is to free these angels who then promise to aid you as you help their sisters. Honestly, most LoA players would probably be hard pressed to tell you anything about the story. It just isn’t that important.
In addition to the angels, you are able to recruit other party members to round out your party. They have fairly traditional roles based on their primary skills. Tanks, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS and Support characters are available. Depending on which Angel you’re using, and what level she has obtained, you can have up to 6 members in your part (including your main character).
Game play mostly consists of a string of “mini-games” which range from fun to frustrating. The main storyline and main side quests are run via a pretty simple point-and-click system. There isn’t anything to the combat once the battle starts. The decisions you make before that (see below) have a lot more to do with how the battle ends than anything else.
A list of the ways in which you play League of Angels:
- Main Storyline Quest – the main story that moves you through various areas in the LoA world. Something you have to do, but it won’t be enough on its own to progress your characters.
- Side Quests – there are a few side quests in each area, but once you’re done with them they don’t come back; so similar to the main quest, they are worth doing for money / xp but not enough on their own.
- Aegis Quests – Angels don’t really have “gear”. Instead, they have Aegis which give them different abilities. Unlocking those abilities and then gathering Aegis shards which are used to upgrade the abilities are an important part of managing your angels
- Blitzing – One thing that I do like (see The Good below) is blitzing missions. Blitzing allows you to automate the process of grinding for xp. You basically say “I want to run this dungeon 30 times” and the game starts doing it. Useful for xp/gold farming.
- Gemology – A little ‘match 3′ game (think Bejeweled) that rewards you with gems which are used to upgrade your equipment. It’s not too awful, but wouldn’t rival Candy Crush for fun or anything. :)
- Arena – In the Arena, players are divided into different groups, in each group you compete in 1 : 1 duels to get enough ranking points to move to the top of the leaderboard. Because of how combat works (see The Bad below), your opponent doesn’t have to be online. You’re also awarded Arena Badges which can be used to buy gear and skill upgrades.
- Clash of Might – similar to the Arena, the Clash pits you against your fellow players. However in this case the only way you rank up is by beating someone higher than you. And you can be ranked down if you get defeated. Also, the pool of participants is everyone on the server. So Clash is more representative of the relative strength of your party.
- Tidal Pool – By far my least favorite mini-game. You shoot nets into a “tidal pool” to capture fish. These fish reward you with random loot ranging from gold to Gems to Herosouls (used to upgrade your NPC member’s skills). The problem is that it seems very random as to whether you catch the fish you’re aiming the net at.
- Team Arena – You and two friends (or strangers who may become friends?) fight against another team of 3. One difference here is that the opponents are from other servers.
- Team Dungeons – Another team game where you join 2 other players. In this case, you fight through a dungeon together (similar to how the Main and Side quest dungeons work). The dungeons are tiered by level and reward your team for finishing them quickly.
- Guild Games – Games like Gauntlet where you try to keep 15 waves of monsters from killing the angel you’re protecting and Twilight Clash where you have a “capture the flag” fight against another guild. They are nice for the rewards they give and to give you and your guildmates something to do together.
Beyond the “Gotta catch them all!” collector aspect, probably the best part of the game is the level at which you can customize the attributes of your characters, NPCs, and angels.
Your main character starts with a base class (familiar to any RPG player). However, from there you can specialize (my fighter became a Paladin – Tank, but could have been a Beserker – Damage). Your character also has skills which can be upgraded. Some are passive (like a boost to your HP) some are active like special attacks which can trigger during fights. Part of the customization is picking which triggered skills your character is going to use.
For your NPCs, they also have skills that can be upgraded (using a different resource than the Main character). However in their case you can’t select different triggered skills, they use their best skills on their own. They also have “partner” skills. In this case each NPC is partnered with another one. When you have both of them in your party at once, they will provide benefits to each other during the battle.
Your angel’s biggest way to grow is through her level. Leveling your angel is vital as the higher level, more powerful angels enable you to bring more NPC characters with you. Also, I mentioned the Aegis up above. The Aegis is how you can change what special attack your angel uses in battle. Leveling the Aegis makes it stronger and provides additional passive buffs to your angel’s abilities as well.
Both Main and NPC characters wear 6 units of equipment (weapon, helmet, chest, ring, legs, boots). Equipment has both vertical and horizontal advancement. Vertically, equipment levels up providing more benefits to your character’s abilities. Horizontally, equipment can carry up to 5 gems. These gems provide additional benefits to your character. There are 12 different types of gems, and each piece of equipment can only carry a single gem of each type. So picking and choosing your gem types can have a significant effect on battle effectiveness. Gems can also be leveled up, improving their buffs.
More Depth to Come
I’ve only scratched the surface here in regards to what levels of detail you can add to your characters. And they do make a HUGE difference. Your party is given a battle rating (BR) based on the levels of the characters, gear, and gems. But choosing how those complement each other is also important. My current BR is around 155,000. However I have lost battles to people with as low a BR as 115,000 and have beaten others who were as high as 180,000. This depth is the primary thing that I like about League of Angels.
Ok, there are definitely some things that I don’t like.
The combat system could use some significant attention. Right now, once the battle starts, the player is an observer. There isn’t anything you can do to affect the outcome. That makes doing some of the things like the quests and even arena battles a great deal less interesting.
You can play LoA for free. And never have to pay a single cent, and you can still accomplish everything in the game. That is my definition of a true “free to play” game. However, paying money does help. In some cases quite a bit. Rather than taking time to gather all the resources you need to improve your characters, you can buy packages of them for real money. In most cases, all this does is to reduce the time that you would need to spend gathering the resources yourself. If that player spends $100 now and never spends another dime, I will eventually catch up to him.
The one case where someone can legitimately pay to win is in the large scale PvP battles. For instance in the capture the flag game (Twilight Clash), players can pay 50 diamonds ($0.50) to resurrect right away instead of waiting out the 30 second resurrection timer. That can be a significant advantage. it won’t make a small, low powered guild the top dawg or anything. But in an evenly matched battle, it can make a lot of difference.
Ok, maybe not “ugly”, but LoA has followed in the footsteps of some other similar games when it comes to how they advertise. I actually saw a side-banner video ad the other day where this is this girl walking toward a bathtub. Her robe drops off suggestively (without really showing anything) and then it ends with the League of Angels logo and a link to the game. That has ZERO to do with the game and is clearly just intended to get young male players to click on the link.
Is it Fun?
That’s the only real question that matters when we’re talking about a game, right?
Yes, I think it is. I have had a good time playing so far and now that I’m getting into the details of systems like the Gem slotting system, it is also interesting to find ways to optimize my builds. Will it continue to hold my attention now that I’m getting to the steeper part of the levelling curve? Maybe. There are so many areas to improve that I can see having goals for quite some time. It may be a couple of days to get a new level on my main character, but other smaller progression is taking place.