League of Angels Review
- Release Date: December 20, 2013
- Publisher: r2games
- Developer: GTArcade
- Genre: MMORPG
League of Angels is the newest browser-based MMORPG from GTArcade. It takes place in a world where the Dark Lord has declared the end of times for gods and light. The angels, who used to protect humanity from the powers of darkness, were helpless when those powers managed to steal the Seal of Life. That seal was the source of the angels’ powers and without it, the dark powers were able to exterminate or imprison the angels one by one. Now, humanity must rise up to repay the angels for thousands of years of protection. Human heroes called “The Brave” have answered the call to fight against the darkness and help the angels reclaim the Seal of Life.
You play one of The Brave. You begin the introductory dungeon as a hooded figure summoned under the ocean by one of the imprisoned angels. You help her escape, and after completing that underwater dungeon, your hero is ready to commit to a class. At this time, you can choose the gender of your character and between a Warrior class or a Mage class. Unsurprisingly, warriors excel at physical offense and defense, Mages excel at magical offense and defense.
A few quests later, and you’ve completely broken the seal on Nocturna, the angel who summoned you. At this point, she becomes a permanent fixture in your party. You see, League of Angels lets you team up with five total heroes and some angels to boot. While heroes will take the brunt of the damage in battle, angels are more like finely honed weaponry than party members. Each angel has her own devastating rage-fueled attack as well as a halo ability that buffs various party member stats. In the case of Nocturna, her attack is a lightning storm that hits all opponents and her halo ability restores HP. The heroes and angels system is an interesting twist on standard RPG parties, with the angels filling a role between pet and party member, but perhaps being more important than either.
As can be expected from a free-to-play browser-based MMORPG, there’s an endless stream of rewards, gear, and ways to power up your party. There are tons of special server events alongside daily mini-games and prizes to claim. Currently, there are three different daily check-ins that reward prizes, as well as a prize you can claim every few minutes for staying online. Materials you find can be used to synthesize new equipment, and each piece of equipment can be enhanced at the forge several times (some weapons only up to 5 times, others much more). Angels are powered up through bonding, which can be done 10 times a day for free, or at the cost of rare Angel Tears after that. Once you’re a bit over level 20, you’ll gain access to mounts, which can also aid you in battle and be leveled up. The huge piles of gear to collect and various ways to power your party add complexity to the game, but don’t mistake complexity for depth. Basically all of these amount to picking the best hero/angel/gear/mount you have and then pressing the “Upgrade” button several times until you run out of gold.
League of Angels is guilty of what I consider the worst trend in online RPGs, which is automated combat. Some games give you the option of automated combat — if your players want to check out of combat, that means you’ve made boring combat. League of Angels doesn’t even give players a choice though, every battle will be automated and you must watch every one through to the end. Battle consists of heroes and monsters taking jabs at each other in turn-based combat. Each time any character attacks or defends, they build up rage. Once enough rage has been built, that character’s special attack is automatically fired off. Some specials dish out tons of damage while others put up personal defenses. There’s nothing special about the combat at all. There are no choices to make in battle. This amounts to every combat playing out almost exactly the same: whack-whack-whack-lightning-fire, whack-whack-whack-lighting-fire. After you’ve seen your heroes’ and angels’ animations a few times, you’ve seen it all and combat is just a waste of time.
That said, League of Angels is not alone in being a generally pretty MMORPG afflicted with boring combat. What happens in these games is that all the important combat decisions are made off the battlefield. That is, which angels to bring, which heroes to bring, how to power them up, and what formation to put them in. Like many of its ilk, League of Angels provides a numerical score that indicates your overall power. In most other MMORPGs (Blade Hunter) with automated combat and power scores, you can tell who’s going to win simply by checking who has the bigger power score. To League of Angels’ credit, its combat strategy goes a little deeper. A good combination of angels, heroes, and party formation can overcome an opponent with a higher power rating. I’d much rather be making important decisions in the heat of battle, but I’m glad that the combat system at least goes deeper than “who has the bigger number?”.
The story is interesting if only for its slipshod combination of any mythological lore the developers could think of. It works okay if you forget everything you know about existing lore and imagine it all exists in an alternate League of Angels universe. For example, within 20 straight minutes of gameplay, you will be sent on missions to collect Thor’s hammer, the One Ring, and a piece of Midas’ gold. How do these help you save humanity, angelkind, and the world from darkness? Eh, they don’t really. Mostly, they’re just used as weak plot devices to unlock new game features.
“Hey! You got your hands on Thor’s hammer! Now the blacksmith will help forge your weapons to make them stronger!”
“Whoa! Is that some Midas Gold? Now you can use it twice a day to make a boatload of free gold! You want to use it more than that? Feel free to become a VIP member!”
The VIP membership is the primary monetization of League of Angels. You can buy premium currency too, but VIP membership gives so many more perks on top of premium currency, I can’t imagine many players go straight for diamonds instead. VIP membership comes in various levels, with each level providing more perks than the last. These perks include daily allowances, extra tries on daily mini-games, and an increased limit on the number of friends you can have. Often, when you pay up, you are rewarded with a big bundle of goodies including exclusive weaponry and an exclusive weapon. The company running League of Angels has to make money somehow, but its current methods do nothing but turn LoA into a pay-to-win experience. There’s no way free players can hold a candle to players with exclusive goodies and more sources of neverending prizes.
League of Angels touts its art as a selling point. Its art is generally pretty good. The backgrounds and portraits in particular look great. Every one of them is hand-illustrated and it shows. The 2D animations in and out of battle aren’t very smooth and they’re definitely not up to par with the base artwork. I can’t deny the overall quality, but it’s beyond ridiculous how well-endowed every last female character is, especially in a game that has so many of them. I don’t think anybody would be surprised to see some top-heavy women in a fantasy RPG, but League of Angels takes it to a new extreme. It’s so in-your-face and obviously meant to draw in teenage guys — I mean every single hero, elf, demon, succubus, and angel is sexy. It’s lazy character design and it gets boring. As it turns out, sexy gets boring really fast when everything is sexy.
League of Angels is a competent browser-based MMORPG by the loosest definition of the word. It’s playable, with plenty to do and see. I appreciate that there’s at least some strategy involved pre-combat, though of course I wish there was actual gameplay during combat. League of Angels admittedly looks good, but it doesn’t blow the competition out of the water and it’s never so good that you would play it just for the visuals. Honestly, the best praise I can give to LoA is “it’s playable” and “at least the combat system isn’t quite as terrible as some other games”. Those aren’t the kind of phrases you see slapped on boxart. There are more than enough good games out there that you shouldn’t need to spend any of your time on mediocre ones like League of Angels.
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