Riot Games has taken its time, but the game is here. Even though it’s a “beta,” it needs time to grow, like its big brother before it was on PC. I will tell you how I like Wild Rift.
This past October marked 11 years since the launch of League of Legends, one of the most critical games in the history of the industry and an example of building a phenomenon from the ground up. With word of mouth as the primary promotional tool for a title that laid the foundations of the fledgling MOBA genre, the story soon became the epic of a studio that built the most niche of the world’s gaming phenomena.
Riot Games was a vast but mono-product company just over a year ago. League of Legends supported the entire company, but it was starting to fall short of the expansion the IP needed to be the best version of itself. And the tenth anniversary of League of Legends responded to Riot’s desire to assault the entire gaming industry, even the mainstream, with animated series, music, and collaborations with Louis Vuitton on Worlds, the game’s World Championship.
But all of this was ancillary to the most significant change and the biggest must-have of League of Legends: the mobile version. Even the most uninformed of brothers-in-law would know there would be no better way for Riot Games to print money and reach a new audience than a mobile and console version of their MOBA. And that’s Wild Rift.
Mobile MOBAs are plentiful; some have even made it big in Asia, such as Honour of Kings. In the West, these titles don’t tend to work, as PC gaming is much more common, and computer MOBAs have always been considered the “premium” experience. According to various media reports, Riot Games’ owner Tencent has wanted a mobile version of League of Legends for many years. Riot was initially reluctant, and the story goes that Honour of Kings was born.
However, somewhere within Riot Games, work began on Wild Rift. The conditions that were set then by the developers seem apparent even today. A product with a premium look and feel in the mobile sector is an experience distinct enough to have its unique goodness and complete gameplay in the mobile gaming landscape. The name would have been enough for League of Legends to take a big bite from the mobile MOBA market, but they wanted to make a splash.
And on 9 December this year, the beta of Wild Rift, the League of Legends for mobiles, was launched in Europe. It is not a beta but a fully functional game-as-a-service from day one. That’s why after almost two weeks with the game, it’s time to pass judgment and talk about it.
The technical finish gives a unique character to the winners
During our preview over a year ago, I felt that Wild Rift was a game unlike any other I had tried on a mobile phone. Superficially it stood out with a brutal visual finish and animations full of personality and fluidity. Still, it also left its mark internally, being a version made from scratch at the programming level. It didn’t have to be burdened by the problems of code patched for over a decade on the PC, and it could also be more agile. All of this is maintained and even enhanced in the release.
Wild Rift is a game that could be given a different skin and differently named champions, released on PC, and would compete with League of Legends. It would compete because it provides a different game experience in terms of rhythm, weight, and control, as well as its advantages, such as the short duration of the games or a simplified system of runes and items.
This game does more to attract new League of Legends players than all the ads, trailers, and promotions Riot Games has done for the PC game over the years. Considering how fast-paced and focused the occasion is, it minimizes everything ancillary to the gameplay experience for a price depth that you’re more than happy to pay.
Tutorials are a further step in LoL accessibility
But more than reducing the number of items, runes, and even champions (49 out of 152, but they will all come eventually) is needed. That’s why Riot Games has set up a deep tutorial system, AI matches that will help new players get comfortable, and even a practice tool that doesn’t pale compared to the PC one. This makes for a perfect gateway into the League of Legends ecosystem.
But let’s remember that League of Legends is, first and foremost, a social game. It’s common for everyone to start playing hand-in-hand with a friend, and that’s more than possible on mobile. The title even has voice chat, group chat, and a handy system of in-game alerts and prompts.
To this, I must add some interesting daily and weekly challenges, events, and achievements that will give us the feeling that each game I play will make us progress, not only as a player but also as an account with more and more resources in our hands.
The label looks sensational, but also apparent in fights
League of Legends led the revolution against the pay-to-win that had shamelessly established itself in free-to-play games a decade ago on PC and continues to do so on mobile. In just under two weeks of average, by no means compulsive, play, we’ve collected more than half of the 49 available champions, a handful of skins, and the occasional emoticon. In case there was any doubt after the business models of Legends of Runeterra or TFT, also on mobile.
And once in the game, League of Legends: Wild Rift is a fun experience, which is the most important thing. When you square an ability of your own with one of your allies, or when you manage to defend a turret or even get to the siege in a coordinated fashion, the game shines as it reveals its depth.
The accessibility and customization of the controls are spectacular
But it’s not all positive; it’s a beta, and I miss things. Position selection before queueing is something I’ve had for quite some time on PC and avoids a lot of toxicity; I need it for the game right now, and Riot Games have already admitted they’re working on it. On the downside, the character roster feels sparse, mainly if you specialize in a particular role, but they do come out at a reasonably high rate.
It’s a real shame about the first criticized section because the AFK and Toxic punishment systems work pretty well, and a role selection would have been the icing on the cake for a strong title that still has a lot of ground to cover. The only downside is the same as always; many people won’t be hooked by its complexity and the sheer amount of concepts it throws in your face.
LOL: Wild Rift VerdictLOL: Wild Rift Verdict
Storyline100/100 The bestAs a MOBA it has plenty of additional story telling pieces like anime, soundtracks and media sheets adding the story.
Graphics / Design100/100 The bestWild Rift game took all the best from its ancestors and made an excellent graphics as a mobile game.
In-app purchases80/100 Very goodThere are plenty of cosmetic purchases
Controls100/100 The bestExcellent 👌
- Feels premium... On mobiles.
- The technical and artistic finish has a lot of personality.
- The events, the rewards and the "one more and I'm done" effect.
- I want a role selector.
- With more characters it would be even deeper.
- There will be people for whom this is an appetizer for the PC version.