League of Legends: Wild Rift is everything a LoL player could want, barring a little player-made magic

We talk a lot about how well, or not-so-well designed a game is, but it’s not often you get to talk about how much design there is in one, the sheer volume there is of it. League of Legends, which I’ve been playing again recently after an extended break (if anyone wants to stage an intervention, honestly please do), might have the most design-per-square-inch of game out of any. Systems on systems on systems, just the game’s launcher is a game in itself: progression within progression, crafting keys to craft chests, unlocking skin shards to unlock skins, building out skill-tree-like rune pages to complement your in-game, skill-tree-like build of items. On and on, the forever game in motion.

Exhausting – but I love it for its exhaustiveness, its galactic breadth, width and depth, and that only makes League of Legends: Wild Rift even more of a surprise. Wild Rift is mobile-only for now – still in open beta and still in only a few places (playable here in Europe, but crucially not yet in North America or China) – and coming to consoles somewhere down the line, and it’s very good. Dense and a little awkward but good, because it is, like League on PC, exhaustive.

The basics for those completely unfamiliar are that it’s more or less exactly the same MOBA as League of Legends in all the key ways – but also different in every way, too. The core is identical: it is absolutely League of Legends, not Heroes of the Storm, not Dota 2, not Smite, and not any of the many mobile spin- (or rip-) offs that they’ve spawned over the years. Fundamentally, of course, the difference is in the controls. Wild Rift is a conversion of a game that is arguably the most demanding of precise mechanical inputs, from the most mechanically precise format of mouse and keyboard, to the most mechanically imprecise format of a phone. Everything in the game then is a question of how you adapt for that total difference while keeping the actual game the same, and the solutions are often ingenious.

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