A few years ago, I walked in on a friend playing League of Legends in his bedroom. While he wasn’t exactly the paragon of competitive players, I wouldn’t consider him a casual player either. Imagine my surprise when I saw him playing co-op vs. AI as soon as I stepped in. If you are anything like me, you seldom see people playing this game mode. But upon closer inspection, there are a few witty reasons why some people log in and opt for this game mode instead of the more traditional modes you and I might be more familiar with.
Co-op vs. AI is a game mode that takes place in Summoner’s Rift, and while it’s very similar to normal unranked matches, it’s a slight deviation from what you’re used to. It pits up to 5 player-controlled champions against five computer-controlled champions. To get it out of the way, yes, it counts as a matchmade game in League of Legends. Bearing this in mind, this is where it becomes a bit more apparent as to why people play this game mode more often than you think.
Origins of Co-op vs. AI
During the early days of League of Legends, Riot originally created this game mode to challenge players with a slightly more advanced AI. These days, however, this game mode serves as a training ground for budding new players. By training, I don’t just mean the aspect of skill and familiarizing how the mechanics of certain champions and the core gameplay work.
This mode gives you experience based on your level and how many minutes you play a day. This is a good way for new accounts to earn experience and familiarize themselves with not only how their preferred champions work, but the types of enemies they face along the way. And since there isn’t that much to lose from this game mode besides time, they are able to experiment with what works for them without too many consequences.
When Riot first introduced Co-op vs. AI, the way the bots behaved could be called just okay at best, and the champions available for the AI to actually utilize was even less impressive. Over the years, they introduced a ton of new champions into the mix in an attempt to make it more engaging for everyone involved. According to them, the basis of the champions selected for this game mode ranged from the champion skill sets just matching with how the AI was scripted to behave to Riot just thinking they’d just be simply fun to play against.
The Ulterior Motive
A great feature from Co-op vs. AI is that it actually offers a whole experience – at least, if certain circumstances are met – that is. This is also a godsend for returning players who have lost access to their accounts. It gives a relaxed way of leveling up, which is especially important when you consider that ranked matches unlock at level 30. Summoners with levels from 1- 9 benefit the most from this.
They earn the full 100% experience gain from these matches, with the experience decreasing with multiples of 10. Anything above level 30 only nets you 55% to as much as 76%, depending on how long you’ve played on any given day. The following is the experience gain formula given to players at different summoner levels.
- Summoner levels from 1 – 9 gain the whole 100% experience
- Summoner levels from 10 – 19 gain 90% experience
- Summoner levels from 20 – 29 gain 80% experience when playing under 180 minutes and 65% when exceeding the 180-minute cap
- Summoner levels 30 and above gain 76% experience when playing under 180 minutes and 55% when playing beyond that.
While you do get summoner experience, remember that you do not gain champion mastery points. Still, for something relaxed and an almost assured win, this is still more than most can ask for.
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Other Reasons Why This Exists
I took a quick look around the internet to get an idea of what people really felt about this game mode, and while the results were mixed, I think I have a decent understanding of what this game mode is for. Not everyone has the technical dexterity of a professional player from the get-go, and that’s alright. While League of Legends does have a healthy player base, it can get stressful sometimes.
A new player who hits level 30 might not at all be ready yet for ranked games. When you’re just “not feeling it”, a victory in a co-op game just might be the palette cleanser you need to get back into the game fresh and going strong. It’s the same reason some games (like battle royales) add bots into the mix. It isn’t just to fill in the player count, but to give a little morale boost on top of the practice—two birds with one stone.
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Why Seasoned Summoners Still Play It
If this explanation still leaves you scratching your head, then there’s an alternative reason as to why even more experienced players use this match mode. Interestingly enough, because it is counted as a matchmade game in League of Legends, the First Win of the Day mission is available. However, it is essential to note that MMR is unaffected in this game mode. This is a perfect way to do it relatively stress-free for people who just want to accomplish the said mission without the opponents putting up too much of a fight.
Pulled directly from Riot themselves, the goal here was to introduce an environment where newer players wouldn’t feel too intimidated by the game. They hit the nail right on the head with this one, because just the very nature of MOBAs itself is very punishing. Still, through sheer persistence and the ideology of making the game more inclusive, I’d like to believe that Riot has succeeded in welcoming new players as well as keeping more rugged veterans happy for the most part.