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VILLAGE ARCADE: Wild Rift's necessary mobile changes makes League of Legends more interesting

By simplifying mechanics, League of Legends: Wild Rift has the potential to attract a whole new audience to one of the world's biggest games

League of Legends has never been a game that I’ve had a lot of interest in. I’ve always admired what they’ve done for gaming as a whole, creating new ways for people to connect and turning eSports into a legitimate, televised form of entertainment. But the game’s complex mechanics and the time needed to fully understand League of Legends’ ever-changing meta has always deterred me from truly investing in the game.

There are plenty of games with less steep learning curves that I have on the back burner, and I already have a solid rotation of games with steep learning curves that I’ve been mastering for years.

I started to think differently about my relationship with the game when I saw League of Legends: Wild Rift was finally available on the app store. I knew I had to try it because when I first heard about the mobile version of League, Riot Games promised that it would minimize the complexity of the PC version of the game—and I suspected those changes could make the game a bit more appealing to me.

I expected I’d give it a shot, find that it had the same mechanics that made me lose interest in the game and drop it a few days later. What I didn’t expect was that I’d like it so much that I would become invested in completing my daily missions and even progress to the point where I could play competitively.

And I definitely didn’t expect it to change my perspective on mobile games, but it absolutely did.

Multiplayer action for 10 minutes a day

When I say I’m not a fan of League of Legends, that doesn’t mean I dislike the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre. I’ve played a handful of MOBAs over the years, and I’ve enjoyed most of them quite a bit.

My only issue with League is that it’s a game with a steep learning curve and its matches have always seemed to be a lot longer in length than other MOBAs I’ve played. I don’t always have two or three hours for a handful of games, but I do have 30 or 40 minutes at various times throughout the day to get some matches in.

That’s what initially pulled me into Wild Rift. The developers understood that mobile players have a smaller window of attention because the nature of mobile games allows them to be played virtually anywhere. It doesn’t make sense to play a 45-minute game of League on the bus, but it might make sense to play a nine-minute game when commuting.

If I want to complete my daily mission regularly, I’m finding that I only have to invest 10 minutes a day. That time is pretty easy to find if I want to really refine my skills, especially considering that I don’t have to be tethered to my desk in order to pick up the game and play a few matches.

How I play the game isn’t the only thing that’s been made more accessible in Wild Rift, but the gameplay mechanics are a lot easier to understand. 

The level cap in Wild Rift is lower than League of Legends making progression quicker and a lot less focused on grinding. Controls are optimized for mobile devices and the game can decide who the best enemy is to attack, making managing combat a lot easier on a small device.

Items have also been simplified quite a bit, making it not only easier to understand how you want to upgrade your character but the process of jumping back into the game is a lot quicker.

All of these changes creates a more streamlined experience for those of us that might not have the desire to jump into everything League of Legends has to offer.

What mobile games could be

I think one of the most interesting things about Wild Rift is it has shown me a new perspective on what mobile games could be.

Up until this point, the only games I’ve really enjoyed on mobile devices are mobile ports of retro games. Games like Final Fantasy VII and Dragon Quest VI have offered the most complete mobile experience.

Games built first for mobile have always felt more like a tech demo for the capabilities of mobile or have always had some randomized award mechanic that is often too unpredictable for me to really dig into the game.

I’ve never really had a game that gave me the same appeal as a console or PC game, but Wild Rift has proven that it’s possible and makes me want to find more games like it.

Free-to-play mobile games have never captivated me the way free-to-play games on other platforms have, but I’m extremely excited that I found something that has the potential to change my mind.