With the announcement of the new wave of Star Guardian skins, the world learned that League of Legends would finally be getting a purely PvE (players versus environment), cooperative game mode. The closest thing we have had to this in the past has been the Doom Bots game mode from last Harrowing. However, Invasion feels like a step back from last year’s Doom Bots, leaving me (and my teammates) feeling a little bored and frustrated by the entire experience.
When you start a match, you pick up the Star Guardian of your choosing: Ahri, Soraka, Syndra, Ezreal, Miss Fortune, Poppy, Lulu, Janna, Lux or Jinx. Once you are locked in, you will pop into the brand new map, small, modern-ish looking area that seems somewhat like a national park? The green grass and bushes clash against the cold, hard asphalt of the adjacent street. That kind of thing. A mobile shop is set up and you are given a small amount of gold to spend. Once everyone is ready, you channel on the star in the middle and the battle begins.
Invasion feels very repetitive, and takes forever to complete.
Once you start, you need to complete the objective. More often than not, it is “defeat this wave of enemies.” Monster versions of already monster-y champions (like Cho’Gath, Kog’Maw, Skarner, etc.) pop out of portals to fight you. They have similar abilities to their League counterparts, but far less health. Once you take them down and the wave ends, you get more gold and do it again.
This tends to feel very similar and it takes forever to complete. Sometimes you will be on a different map or will have to stay in a small circle to avoid taking damage while you deal with the beasts, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting. Regardless of the objective, it isn’t particularly engaging to play. This results in a pretty long, same-y feeling experience.
The situation becomes one of desperation, which would be cool if it wasn't so frustrating.
However, once you get to the end, you have to fight “the Big One,” which is basically just the Rift Herald. The boss is hard, to say the least, but it isn’t difficult because of the abilities it throws at you (although they can one shot if you aren’t in the right place). Instead of the boss itself being the biggest problem, the cavalcade of enemies that are spawned are more likely to ruin your squad.
The situation becomes one of desperation, which would be cool if it wasn’t so frustrating. Basically the Big One will spin in a circle fairly frequently, throwing giant orbs at you and your allies. You have to put some of the map geometry (lamp posts, walls, etc.) in between you and the beast, lest you be destroyed almost instantly. The problem with this is that in addition to several of these champs being immobile (looking at you, Soraka), the non-Big One enemies are more likely to kill you than the boss.
Toward the bottom side of her health bar, the Big One will spawn like 20 Vel’Koz clones that just spit long range Qs at you from everywhere. If you venture out to kill them all, you die from the Big One. If you hide from the Big One, you die to Vel’Koz clones. And while individual death doesn’t have consequences, team-wide wipes do. When individual teammates go down, they can be revived by standing on them, if all of you get down, you restart the wave and lose one of your three lives. Once you lose all three, you queue up for another game.
“This is ********.”
In my PBE testing, I played several matches, all of which were boring up until the final boss. When the boss wiped the floor with us three times in a row, it was pretty frustrating, as I knew I had to go through another 6+ waves of enemies to try again. On the second go around, we died in almost the exact same place, even after I had switched my pick from Ahri to Soraka specifically to heal through the final encounter.
The first go around, I had some fairly vocal random teammates. The entire experience starts with the Big One charging into your team and one-shotting a bunch of folks. In the beginning, I thought this was a weird bug, but it happened again the second time.
From that first death, everyone was mad. Cries of “This is bullshit” and “this is stupid” and “wow this sucks” rang out in chat, and it got more colorful as we went on. The second group was a little more optimistic, but that quickly turned to frustration once we died on the boss for the second time.
Right now, the Invasion mode looks like it could be promising, but it needs more challenging objectives in the first few waves to counter balance the monstrosity that is the final boss. In the past, Riot has really pushed their interesting game modes and reworked them to be more fun when they failed to meet expectations. This resulted in a much better version of Doom Bots last year, and will hopefully result in a better Invasion in 2018.