League of Legends: Wild Rift is the way the game was always meant to be played
League of Legends is actually fun now.
Last week, just a day or two after League of Legends: Wild Rift, launched on iOS, I made this tweet:
And you know what? I stand by it. After spending a week with Wild Rift, I can confidently say it's the most fun I've had on a mobile game in a long time. Not only that, but Wild Rift plays better on mobile, and is in fact superior to the original game.
This isn't going to be a full-fledged review of Wild Rift (Polygon’s is pretty good), but I do want to take some time to compare it to the original PC game, and how developer Riot Games was making awesome mobile games before it was cool.
League of Legends: A Brief Overview
For the uninitiated, League of Legends is an insanely popular MOBA (Multi-player Online Battle Arena) game. 5v5 teams go head to head in the Summoner's Rift: a tight map which consists of three lanes guarded by turrets, drones of minions, and various beasts in the "jungle" between the lanes. The goal of the game is simple. Each team tries to push up the lanes, destroying enemy turrets, and eventually destroying the opposing team's nexus. Once that is done, it's game over. It's a winner-take-all kind of system.
That's pretty basic, and it ignores a lot of the nuance in the way items and buffs work, but I'm not here to talk about all that. Again, this isn't a review.
Let's talk about how the game plays.
The Original League of Legends is Clunky and Boring
There. I said it. It's true. I don't like the original League of Legends. I have fond memories of playing the game in college with my friends, including a sweet Triple Kill I got with Lux from halfway across the map. Besides that, though, those memories are more about who I was with than the game we were playing. After those college days, I pretty quickly fell off the game, and that was six or seven years ago at this point.
In reality, I find LoL to be frustrating and overly complex. I spent more time in the item shop menu trying to match a build I had found online than I did actually playing the game.
Using abilities were annoying too, and holy hell I hated clicking to move. And don’t even get me started on the chat window, with random strangers endlessly telling you they were going to report you for pulling the team down. On top of that, you would have to listen to them endlessly spam alerts at you. Seriously, LoL has an insanely toxic fan base.
Wild Rift is More Intuitive and Refined
Compare that to Wild Rift. Rather than tapping the screen to move (which I feared would be the case), the left side of your screen serves as an analog stick, giving you much tighter control over the champion you choose. Abilities are clearly displayed on the right side and will auto-target the closet thing to you, as opposed to the PC version where you manually select them. You can also choose to prioritize minions or turrets based on the circumstances.
These two things alone make the game infinitely better. I did some wicked math, and it came out to be something like 100,098.662% better. That has three decimal places, so it must have been a serious equation, right?
Those aren‘t the only improvements. Chat is now optional, which is a blessing from the Gods Riot Games developers. The game also automatically tells you when turrets are under attack and other key information, though you still have to deal with people spamming alerts at you.
The game is also perfect for beginners, because it very clearly explains what each champion does, what they are good at, and (most importantly) their best function in battle. The tutorials are pretty quick, and they do an excellent job explaining the core mechanics of the game.
The way you buy items has also been greatly improved. When you have enough gold, recommended items pop up and are a tap away when you’re at your home base.If you want more control over your build, you can click on the gold icon to open up the full item shop. It’s the best of both worlds.
It’s The Little Things
I’m not an expert on game design, but these changes seem relatively minor, and that’s because they are. That’s becasue so much of League of Legends’s DNA was already compatible with mobile platforms. The game has a pretty robust and rewarding progression system and it is free to play. All the purchases players make are entirely cosmetic, so there is no pay-to-win formula here.
Wild Rift does add new events, which will incentivize people to keep returning, and like the original there are tons of champions to play and master.
There isn’t really any point in this article other than League of Legends: Wild Rift made the game matter to me again. I’ll be playing it for a long time to come, and I’m excited to see it pick up traction in the eSports scene. It’s a perfect way to bring new players into the game without throwing them into the toxic sludge of the community, and seasoned players will find a more engaging and rewarding experience.