In conjunction with the release of its first animated series, Arcane, coming to Netflix, Riot Games is releasing the new PvE roguelite mode Path of Champions to its award-winning digital card game Legends of Runeterra. As a result, I got to get a hands-on preview of this new story-based mode that takes players to the twin cities of Piltover and Zaun and even beyond. Read on to learn all about the new adventures players can expect as they fight their battles across Runeterra.
Players experienced with Riot’s previous PvE release, The Saltwater Scourge, will find many of the core elements of Path of Champions familiar. However, the devs at Riot have taken the fundamental aspects of Scrouge—moving across a map as players battle A.I. opponents with special gameplay conditions while improving their deck along the way—and infused it with a greater degree of precision. Additionally, the devs have added original story elements to give even more personality to the mode, setting it apart from the rest of the game.
While Path of Champions will launch with 13 of Runeterra’s Champions available to play, the mode really focuses on the Piltover and Zaun Champions Jinx, Vi, Caitlyn, Jace (more on this guy later), and Ekko. These characters are the only ones whose journies feature narrative elements that include comic-book-style cut scenes with fully voiced dialogue. Important note about Path of Champions story: while the story elements of the new mode focus on the Champions from Arcane, the developers emphasized that the events in these stories are in no way canon with the new Netflix series.
In my hands-on preview, I got to play as Jinx as she blasts her way through Piltover in search of her sister Vi. The increased narrative elements I got to experience in my playthrough were only part of what set this mode apart from its predecessors. Perhaps even bigger than these are the choice to make new cards that are exclusive to the new game mode.
The new cards I got to see were easily the highlight of the new mode for me. With these cards restricted to this PvE mode, the devs at Riot got to have a lot of fun with the power level and effects some of these cards bring to the player’s games. The best example of the craziness that comes with some of these cards is a new spell Jinx gets that costs two mana and deals one damage to the enemy nexus while making all your cards for the rest of the game cost two less. Now this card is insanely good by normal game mode standards, but since the Path of Champions experience for Jinx is catered to her, you can expect the mode to take this powerful new spell into account.
While the ability to modify cards and acquire powerful global effects isn’t new to Legends of Runeterra’s PvE offerings, Path of Champions takes the concept to a new level with the introduction of permanent relics. Unlike other relics that go away once a player’s run is done, permanent relics remain with the Champion, creating a persistent advantage for the Champion until the player replaces the relic with something new. Each Champion can eventually have up to two permanent relics attached to them, allowing the player to customize their gameplay experiences, tailoring their runs to their particular play styles.
Permanent relics aren’t the only lasting effects players can earn for their favorite Champions. With each run, a player completes with a given Champion and will earn reputation points for them. Reputation points unlock bonuses from increased health and gold at the start of a run to added options at some locations during their journey.
With all the effort, love, and care the developers at Riot have poured into this new addition for Legends of Runeterra, it’s understandable that they want to encourage players of all skill levels to check out this exciting new mode. To facilitate this, Riot has done two key things with Path of Champions. First, the game’s introduction has been altered so that new players are immediately directed to this game mode upon completing the basic tutorial. Second, the introduction mission featuring Jinx delivers a gentle difficulty curve, so new players or those simply lacking mastery of the game’s mechanics can ease into the new adventure.
Alongside Path of Champions, Legends of Runeterra will also be getting a new Event pass, the biggest one yet no less, along with a new Champion character Jace. Jace will be arriving with a handful of support cards, similar to when Aphelios was introduced to the game. A note, there was no mention of any cards for other factions releasing with Jace’s support cards. Jace will also have the distinction of being the first modal Champion in the game. By that, I mean that when the player plays Jace, they have to decide whether or not he comes in to play with one of two abilities. He’ll have either Quick Strike or Challenger. This gives Jace a level of flexibility most Champions cannot match.
I can’t wait to dive back into Path of Champions. I have always loved the personality of many of Piltover and Zaun’s characters, especially Vi. It will also provide another fun, replayable break from the grind of PvP play. This will be particularly welcome for those times when one deck starts to overwhelm the meta.
Path of Champions is coming to Legends of Runeterra on November 10th for PC, iOS, and Android.