League of Legends just celebrated its 10 year anniversary, and Riot Games took the opportunity to announce a bunch of new games and projects.
Detailing its future plans during its recent 10th anniversary livestream, Riot signaled its intent to turn League of Legends (the studio's only release to date) into a horizontal franchise by using the property as the foundation for a smorgasbord of new games, as well as other pieces of media based on the franchise.
First of all, Teamfight Tactics will be coming to mobile devices, and League of Legends itself will not only join it, but also arrive on consoles as a new MOBA called Wild Rift. The rumoured Legends of Runeterra is now also officially confirmed. The free-to-play collectible card game appears similar to Blizzard's Hearthstone, but without the major elements of randomness. It features characters from the LoL universe, while the gameplay is focused on "dynamic, alternating combat that demands players use their skill, creativity, and cleverness to succeed."
A new League of Legends animated show called Arcane is on the way, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting for something like this. Set for release in 2020, the show takes place in the utopian world of Piltover, and "the story follows the origins of two iconic League champions--and the power that will tear them apart." If you want something to watch right now, however, a movie-length documentary called League of Legends Origins, has arrived from Oscar nominated director Leslie Iwerks. She is the granddaughter of Disney animator Ub Iwerks, who co-created Mickey Mouse. The movie will cover LoL's history, and you can stream it now on Netflix.
A League of Legends shooter tentatively titled Project A is a new, character-based competitive shooter set in the LoL universe that looks similar to Blizzard's Overwatch. "The game is set on a beautiful near-future Earth and has a lethal cast of characters, each with unique abilities that create tactical opportunities for their gunplay to shine," Riot said. They went on to announce League of Legends Esports Manager, a team-management simulator that allows you to get in on the esports scene yourself. There’s also something called Project F, which had a tiny bit of action-RPG-looking footage, but no solid details.
Among other announcements were a new LoL update, the new character Senna, and The Riot Games Social Impact Fund (which has already donated over $4 million) - but of everything announced tonight, there’s one thing that I’d like to single out. A few years ago, Riot bought Radiant Entertainment, a fighting game-focused studio helmed by the makers of GGPO netcode, the influential EVO tournament, and the promising-but-cancelled simple fighting game Rising Thunder. At EVO 2019 a couple months back, Radiant head Tom Cannon openly declared that yes, they were working on a fighting game for Riot, but gave no further details. It sounded like it would take a while for us to hear anything more.
But all that has changed. Enter Project L, a fighting game set in the League of Legends universe. Riot is fully committing to something next-to-no publishers have done by throwing their hat into the niche fighting game space. We even got a scant few seconds of early gameplay footage, and hey, it looks like it plays as well as Rising Thunder did. This game undoubtedly exists to attempt the herculean task of bridging the gap between fighting games and the other, much more popular competitive gaming genres. From singleplayer content, to online performance, to tutorials, to basic brand recognition and mainstream appeal, fighting games have struggled to grow themselves apart from brief spurts caused by industry giants Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. There’s a lot of anxiety and distrust towards Riot surrounding discussions of Project L, but a lot of old FGC-heads are still hopeful that this is the game that can cast off the chains holding the genre down.
Riot’s been pretty darn busy growing the League of Legends property, and judging by how long ago they purchased Radiant, it seems they’ve been building up to this 10th anniversary push for a while. While I have no interest in playing League, I’m up for any format that they use to convey stories from the game’s detailed universe, and that fighting game fills me with so much hope… ahem. CGMagazine will report on these projects when more information becomes available, which could be any time from a few months from now to LoL’s 11th anniversary. Either way, it’s an exciting time in the game industry as one of its giants has finally roused and begun to move.