Should you start playing League of Legends in 2022?

League of Legends key art showcasing multiple characters in 2022Riot Games

Is 2022 the year you should start playing League of Legends? The answer is: unless you’re willing to devote a massive amount of time to the game, probably not.

League of Legends is one of the most-played live service games available in the world today. It first dropped in 2009, and in the thirteen years since the release of its beta it has become a global phenomenon.

The in-game universe, known as Runeterra, has spawned countless spin-off games, comics, short stories, and even a Netflix series.

Arcane: A League of Legends story, became the most-watched series on Netflix after its release in 2021. Set in the fictional world of Zaun, it combines playable characters from League of Legends with new, original characters to tell the story of two warring cities, and two sisters trapped between them.

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In October 2022, the game’s developer Riot Games announced that their games (excluding Valorant) had surpassed 180 million players, and that the figure was ‘still growing’.

Now, all of this is well and good, but it doesn’t answer one very key question. Is League of Legends in its current state actually fun to play?

After all, following Arcane’s release, the internet was rife with memes along the lines of “please don’t play League of Legends just because you liked Arcane.”

The memes were well-meaning, but there’s a shred of truth to their claims. League is an incredibly complex and nuanced game, with a community who have often been famous for all the wrong reasons.

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So, as a League player of around five years, I’m here to answer the question for you once and for all: should you pick up League of Legends in 2022?

If you’re looking for something casual, probably not

Riot Games
Don’t let its goofy-looking champions fool you; League’s difficulty is no joke.

League is not the kind of game you play after work to wind down and relax. It’s incredibly complex, and some of its most impenetrable in-game systems have no real tutorial or explanation outside of a trusty Google.

I’ll spare you some of the more snooze-worthy details of how to play League of Legends, but it’s safe to say that from the second you enter a game, you’re being bombarded with information, and need to constantly be on full alert.

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The game’s tutorial does a terrible job of representing what an actual game against real players will be like. You can choose to play games against AI bots, which is honestly your safest bet if you’re just starting out, but even that won’t give you any real idea of what to expect in a five versus five game.

There’s a lot more to League than just pressing buttons

Riot Games
Brains are just as important as buttons in League of Legends.

Perhaps the most impenetrable aspect of League is its item system. Killing minions, enemy champions, and towers grants you gold, which you can then spend on items in the in-game shop to enhance your abilities. Pretty simple, right?

Wrong. There are hundreds of items to choose from, each with its own unique stat-boosting powers.

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Certain items are completely useless on certain champions, whereas others can turn an underpowered champion into the strongest character in the game.

The game gives you very little assistance in knowing what items to build. Almost all guidance on what items to build on your champion of choice will come straight from the internet and through trial and error.

Constantly having to tab out to check a guide is more than a little time-consuming in a game as fast-paced as League.

Whatever you do, don’t play alone

Riot Games
A duo partner can make League’s learning curve a little less steep.

League’s community is infamous for not being the most welcoming for new players.

Whether it’s high-ranked players smurfing in beginner games, or just straight-up old-fashioned toxicity in the in-game chat, a game of League can sometimes feel more like being pelted with rocks from all sides than a fun, competitive video game.

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The obvious solution to this is to simply mute the in-game chat, but since League is a game that relies heavily on coordination and communication, doing so can cut off a lot of a team’s ability to properly play together.

The easiest way to combat this? Play with a friend. Playing with a friend can make sometimes stressful games infinitely more enjoyable, and guarantees that at least two team members will be on the same page.

Sure, arguing over whether to go for the Elder Dragon or Baron Nashor might test the limits of your friendship – but what relationship isn’t strengthened by a little friction?

The final verdict

Riot Games
League can be an incredibly fun and fulfilling game, but it’s a coin toss as to whether a game will leave you celebrating or tearing your hair out.

League’s complexity has increased exponentially in recent years. Every new character Riot releases adds some new mechanic, interaction, or level of complexity to the game, to the point where League now is almost unrecognizable from the game it was on release in 2009.

If you’re highly competitive, have a fair bit of free time, and have a group of friends who are willing to play the game with you, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t pick up League.

It’s one of the world’s most popular online games for a reason. At its best, it’s fun, incredibly rewarding, and just the right level of mentally taxing.

At worst, however, League can be frustrating, toxic, and time-consuming. If you’re looking for something relaxing to play alone to unwind from a hard day’s work, then League probably isn’t the game for you.