League of Legends – Wild Rift makes LoL fun again

League of Legends developer Riot Games has brought their multi million dollar MOBA game to the smart phone. League of Legends: Wild Rift is the smartphone spin-off of League of Legends. League of Legends is basically the most popular free MOBA in the world, with its first ‘Season’ debuting in 2010. The game is, like most MOBA games, a team based battle where your aim is to destroy the opponents objectives before they destroy yours. Simple.

I used to play a great deal of League of Legends with my friends. It was a free, team based game, where you would have to strategize and communicate with your team to secure a victory. Each game goes for roughly 20 to 40 minutes so it is quite easy to just jump into a game when you are chatting to your friends on TeamSpeak. We played League of Legends on and off for a couple of years with a lot of my friends continuing to play after I stopped. At some point it just got too much for me. I found most of the characters I liked to play like ‘Skarner’ or ‘Zilean’, weren’t really in the current ‘meta’. Meaning that they weren’t really supposed to be powerful and none of the new skills or items were really to benefit them. I had 2 options, learn some new characters or just find a new game. I tried the easy way out.

I was at a stage playing games where I wasn’t really too interested in becoming the best or destroying my opponents. I’m not a very competitive person in videogames by nature. Some games I do enjoy the PvP and tactics and indeed, League of Legends is one of them. But something about the original charm of the game, drinking with friends and doing stupid stuff just got gradually left behind. There was a new character coming out every other week and I simply didn’t have the time or energy to put into researching what each character does and how they can be fought against. I’d find myself going against an energy champion watching them chain stun me, charm me and throw me around like the blind fool I was. Arguments can be made about me just learning to be better and get better at the game but i wasn’t really interested in that. I enjoyed LoL for what it was to me, a casual experience that lasts around half an hour, that i can talk and strategize with my friends in.

The accessibility of League of Legends got me hooked, but the gameplay has made me stay.

I haven’t sat down and played the game in years but through my explore area on Google something wonderful happened. I discovered League of Legends: Wild Rift. At the moment, due to the Covid 19 lockdowns happening in Germany I do have a bit of extra time on my hands. I would not have taken the time I still wouldn’t have taken to go onto my laptop boot up the riot games launcher and install 20 GB of LoL patches. But something about the ease and casual approach of smart phone gaming has got me hooked at the moment. Something about games like Wild Rift and Eve: Echoes has me hooked. I really enjoy the fact that I can just sit down after a long day, open up an app and start playing. Even with the PS4 you need to boot it up, turn the TV on and wait for the game to start and update.

Graphically it’s the same League of Legends experience

It really does look like a scaled down league of legends. You won’t have too much trouble converting from PC to mobile as the map looks basically the same. You have the baron, the dragon, turrets and a nexus. The layout is the same and one of the great things they did with the camera is that the camera will switch depending on what side you’re playing on. By this i mean the camera will move upside down so that your nexus is always in the bottom left of the screen, with the enemy’s on the top right. That will mean that top lane will technically move to the bottom of the screen but they have counteracted this by calling the lanes the ‘baron lane’ and the ‘jungle lane’. You skill have 2 characters in the Jungle lane, someone in the mid lane and a jungler. Converting really isn’t too hard if you have the basics of League of Legends down.

Screenshot from the game Leagude of Legends Wild Rift
An in-game screenshot showing the UI of Wild Rift

The controls are fairly intuitive but leave a little to be desired. You move around the map using a virtual control stick located on the bottom left. They have done a great job of trying to turn an entire mouse and keyboard experience into a phone game but some elements i find just don’t work. While I didn’t want to start talking about some of the negative parts of the game just yet, I cannot find myself talking about the UI and controls without talking about the map.

The camera is locked during gameplay on Wild Rift which some PC players will be unhappy about. Frankly, the camera controls suck. You have a minimap at the top left of the screen and trying to click and drag anywhere to see what is going on is a nightmare. Even though I have a rather large Samsung Note 10 lite, I still have trouble selecting where I want to see on the map and dragging around my camera. I don’t feel like there is a great simple solution to this but for the moment the map movement is just horrible. I find myself just sticking to my camera lock and rarely looking at anything more than the minimap as clicking and dragging the map in Wild Rift is terrible. This makes playing games with characters with team ultimate’s a bit of a pain. For example playing as Soraka, you have an ultimate that can greatly heal the health of your entire team. Used in the right situation you can support any teammate on the map when they find themselves in a fight. A lot of the time I cannot rely on my map controls and will just have to view the minimap to see who needs help and try to keep an eye on my allies’ health bars near their icons. Speaking of champions though, that is a part of the game I prefer over the original League of Legends.

A fairly reduced champion pool

The pool of characters in League of Legends Wild Rift is greatly reduced from League of Legends. It sits right now at 51 champions. The most recent update, as up a couple of days ago introduced a few new yordles. (Yes including Teemo). Some might see the reduction of champions as limiting but I quite enjoy only having to learn this many characters in the game. Sure, at some point we all might get bored of picking the same few champions in every game, but I really enjoy the breathing room of just getting good at a few characters while they are here. Sadly Wild Rift shares one of the biggest problems that the original games has. One of my ongoing gripes with the game is Master Yi. I understand that not everyone can be good at the game and that there has to be some accessible characters for beginners but, wow. Every game I see this guy just chomping through with no regards for enemy spells, slows or turrets. But I digress.

Sadly Wild Rift shares one of the biggest problems that the original game has;

Master Yi

Honestly, for the moment I am really enjoying LoL: Wild Rift. It is a great was to relax and switch off after a day at work but still give you a little feeling of accomplishment after destroying a nexus. The unlock system and rewards are quite good with the levels and after only playing for a couple weeks I have unlocked a large chunk of the champion pool. I actually find myself enjoying the ranked mode even though this is something I generally tried to avoid in the PC version. I find myself actually wanting to get into a ranked match and work together with a team rather than loathing the concentration I have to give the game.

If you, like me, got burnt out playing League of Legends on the PC but are open to giving it another go on mobile I implore you to try. It is essentially a renaissance of LoL for me. Also, it is entirely free and available on both iOS and Android so you don’t really have a good excuse not to try it.