BETA REVIEW: ‘League of Legends: Wild Rift’ Offers Hard-Earned, But Rewarding Victories (iOS)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

League of Legends: Wild Rift

League of Legends: Wild Rift is a mobile redesign of the PC MOBA game from Riot Games. Since its original launch in 2009 League of Legends has grown into one of the biggest gaming titans in the world. With Riot deciding to grow its behemoth IP from a single game to a multi-series franchise with projects like last year’s Legends of Runeterra, and the upcoming Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, Riot has also decided to get the core experience of its famed franchise to even more players by releasing League of Legends: Wild Rift. More than just a mobile port of the PC original, Wild Rift retools many aspects of its predecessor, turning it into a faster smoother experience that on the whole is more accessible for new players while losing none of the depth the genre is known for.

Multiplayer online battle arenas(MOBA) have garnered a particularly intimidating reputation in the world of video games. Just the fact that Wild Rift comes with a whopping 61 characters at its beta launch is enough to give many players pause. This coupled with the ever-changing gameplay throughout a match and the myriad options of items a player can purchase during games to enhance their chosen champion can become downright overwhelming. Happily, Riot Games has done everything in its power to streamline the onboarding process for new players. And while there is still a solid learning curve to overcome before you fully master the Rift, if you invest that time, there is a fun, frantic game waiting to be discovered that offers an endlessly re-playable game to enjoy.

When players first enter League of Legends: Wild Rift they will be presented with a tutorial. If you have never played the original PC version of the game I cannot recommend enough playing through all of the tutorials. They are not all required to jump into the game, but you really should play through all of them as early as possible. While these tutorials don’t give an exhaustive explanation of the games’ many nuanced features and strategies, it does give you the basic building blocks to start with. (I will be writing up a supplementary article detailing things not covered in these tutorials that I wish I had known soon. So keep your eyes peeled for that.)

Once you have managed your way through the tutorials the game will have granted you access to a handful of characters representing each of the game’s varied roles. These characters are great for allowing players to determine whether their calling is dominating the mid lane with a mage like Ahri, raining down hails of gunfire in the Dragon Lane as marksman like Miss Fortune, or bashing their way through the jungle areas of the map and surprise ganking(killing) enemies with a jungler like Vi. 

Once a player nails down the playstyle they find most satisfying they can start looking into exactly which character in that role appeals the best to them. Players are always allowed to check out new characters in a training mode, and early on the game is generous with both in-game currency, as well as gifting the player-free character purchases. While it may be tempting to spend these as soon as they are earned, you might want to do a little research before you pull the trigger. 

Once you are playing the game, League of Legends: Wild Rift’s many gameplay intricacies begin to take shape. What role you are playing, who the opponent is facing you with, what teammates are playing as well as what point in the game you are at all come into play as you pursue the game’s main goal of destroying the enemy’s nexus. This is done by coordinating with your team to take down enemy towers, while fighting off the enemy’s champions, harvesting gold from nearby monsters and enemy minions who relentlessly match toward your towers and nexus.

Needless to say, it is far too much for me to explain in detail here. Happily, you do not need to have a full understanding of every nuance to enjoy the game, or to be an aid to your team when you first start. Just keep your eyes open and try to learn. Watch the mini-map to see when team fights look to be forming. Respond to them if you can. And pay attention. Also, try to utilize Riot’s greatest gift to new players: the intuitive ping system. 

In the top right corner of the UI Riot has placed three buttons representing different styles of requests players can access quickly and easily. Requests like “Attack the dragon” or “retreat from X enemy” are as simple as dragging and dropping the appropriate icon to the right point on a map that appears when the ping is selected. It’s fast, easy and allows players to communicate with their team without going into a voice chat. Which the very thought of doing with randoms online can range from intimidating to downright scary for some people. I love this system since I can interact without risking a toxic personality losing it on me. Since, unfortunately, we all know they are out there. 

After your early struggles the initial chaos that once felt overwhelming becomes familiar and a certain order begins to form out of it. As the optimal way to upgrade characters becomes second nature, and the crazy team fights that once erupted at seeming random become almost predictable as hard-earned experience teaches players what to look for. That first time you realize you are making snap decisions that you once fretted and worried over for precious seconds feels great. Almost as much as winning those first big team fights. 

Team fight wins are the single most satisfying moments in League of Legends: Wild Rift. As special abilities begin to fly as fast as cooldowns allow the screen can become a variable sea of lighting bolts, cannonballs, and sunbeams. It’s confusing, and early on just understanding what’s happening is a challenge. But, that first time you not only understand, but you feel yourself actively responding to the changing situation… Well, my first time was one of the single most gratifying moments in my cumulative three and a half decades of gaming experience. And then when your team completely wipes the floor with the enemy and rolls on to trash their nexus. It’s just perfection. 

League of Legends: Wild Rift

League of Legends: Wild Rift augments the action and moment-to-moment strategy of its gameplay with a top-notch graphical presentation. Everything the player views from their bird’s eye view of the battlefield looks gorgeous and clear. Character animations are each unique to their respective characters and the visual effects of the numerous abilities as striking as you can ask for on a mobile device. 

Like all free-to-play games, this one comes with a bevy of optional microtransactions attached to it. Riot doesn’t press hard for gamers to empty their wallets though. The early game gives players a generous amount of opportunities to gather together a solid selection of characters to play with, and a rotating selection of characters are unlocked to allow players a chance to try out new heroes before purchasing them. Also, the only gameplay affecting purchase that can be made, new champions, can be gained through simply playing the game. You have to play a significant amount to pay for a hero, but the option is open to you. Coupled with the 10+ heroes I earned early in the game and I feel like Riot has been fair with players given the quality of the overall package in League of Legends: Wild Rift.

Outside of new champions, a bevy of alternate skins are available for purchase, with most heroes already having several options available. These cosmetics range anywhere from roughly six dollars to thirteen. While thirteen dollars feels a bit steep for a skin, the more expensive ones do bring more than just a new look to the character’s presentation. Alternate animations when recalling, and sometimes even different music. Regardless of how one feels about these purchases, they are all optional, and players will sometimes earn opportunities to gain a skin here and there for free. 

When one considers the meticulous levels of attention given to both the characters playstyles as well as their personality, the levels of customization and top-notch presentation Riot as put into every aspect of this sleeker, more user-friendly version of their gaming giant, coupled with the fact you can experience it all for free, there is little reason not to check it out. It has a steep learning curve, and the early struggles will certainly put many players off, but if you are willing to put in the time to conquer the challenges the rift throws at players, the satisfaction of winning those battles is some of the best gaming has to offer. 

League of Legends: Wild Rift beta is available now on Android and iOS.

 


League of Legends: Wild Rift
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

When one considers the meticulous levels of attention given to both the characters playstyles as well as their personality, the levels of customization and top-notch presentation Riot as put into every aspect of this sleeker, more user-friendly version of their gaming giant, coupled with the fact you can experience it all for free, there is little reason not to check it out. It has a steep learning curve, and the early struggles will certainly put many players off, but if you are willing to put in the time to conquer the challenges the rift throws at players, the satisfaction of winning those battles is some of the best gaming has to offer.