Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: Wild Rift is an enjoyable way to play League of Legends for players at any experience level.
Great, customizable mobile controls
Easy-to-use chat features
Hero lane info ends
Doesn't transfer all PC purchases
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League of Legends was a free PC multiplayer online battle arena game that released in 2009. Here, two teams made up of a variety of champion play styles compete to be the first to destroy the other team's nexus. They use four abilities and items purchased with gold earned as the game goes on to win.
Meanwhile, League of Legends: Wild Rift, the mobile version, is releasing the regional open beta in North America on March 29. While it is similar to the PC game, it does have its differences too and does not port PC purchases over.
When I first heard about Riot Games taking League of Legends and making it into a mobile format I had a lot of concerns. For one thing, I know that it takes all my fingers to play League of Legends on the PC and had no idea how that would translate to mobile gaming. Also, team cohesiveness is key to a winning strategy and I was worried chat would be limiting with no choice but to use voice chat. Then there's the long-standing issue that is always top of mind with many League of Legends players: the toxicity of the community.
While I'm still unsure of some factors, overall I was very impressed with the ease of this new playstyle and the friendliness of the game for beginners. It seems to me like Riot Games really thought of any issue you could have coming from PC to mobile and tackled it head on, leading you all along the way. You don't even need one of the best gaming phones or gaming controllers for Android to be able to play!
League of Legends: Wild Rift: The pleasantly surprising
One of the big goals Riot had when releasing this game on mobile was to introduce it to a new wave of players. This meant making sure that beginners would feel comfortable learning how to play and jumping into PvP battle. Riot Games really did a great job with tutorials explaining each part of battle, including lane strategies, hero categories, and available team buffs. In the beginning, it even walks players through their first chosen character and what position they're best in. All of this info will easily help a new player understand what their objective is as they begin to play and learn their hero.
|League of Legends: Wild Rift
|League of Legends: Wild Rift
|Android: CPU 4-core, 1.5 Ghz and above (32-Bit and 64-Bit Support), RAM 1.5G, Resolution 1280×720, iOS: iPhone 6 Plus
Taking a game that's meant to be played with a full keyboard and mouse controls and turning it into something that can be played with just your thumbs seemed like it would be a difficult transition. I was surprised to find that the mobile controls make the game easier in some ways. From the player standpoint, it was pretty seamless adjustment and felt surprisingly natural. The joystick on screen is very transparent and doesn't hinder your view and it isn't over-sensitive. If you want, you can even customize the controls to work for you.
I was worried that the attack having an auto-target would be harder when battling multiple champions at once to target a specific character. The default is to target champions over minions, then the closest champion, but you can override this by dragging the attack button until the yellow target that comes from your champion is over who you want to attack. This will allow your champion to default to attack this character until you click to target another champion, minions, or structures.
When playing a team-based game it's obviously important to communicate. Riot Games made a quick chat feature that doesn't take up a lot of screen space where you can easily call out a few commonly-used phrases. These message options are adjustable in the settings if there are some that you won't use. Players also could type in the chat room if what they need to say isn't a quick option.
As seasoned players will know, there's also an ability called a "ping" that allows you to signal things to your team, like when you think you should team up to fight the dragon or Baron, when you're on the way to assist, or when there's danger from an enemy disappearing. In WIld Rift, ping is a simple quick drag system made easily accessible above the right thumb. Just release on the point of the map where you want to signal something.
With concerns about a negative community, especially to those who are new or more casual players, there's a great option to choose in your settings to do only party chat, which is only a player's friends and premade team, team chat which will only show your team, or all which shows your team and the opposing team's messages. The ability to mute during game with a quick click in case you have background noise was also a nice touch considering there are many environments where you could play this now.
League of Legends: Wild Rift: What to look out for
While Wild Rift is beginner-friendly, there are a few areas that could use some improvement. After the initial tutorial, the information on how to best play your selected heroes disappears. For those who are playing new characters or still getting used to the game it may be a benefit to have lane and champion type information available during selection. At the very least this should be available for unranked, where beginners play, and co-op vs. AI games, often used to practice unfamiliar champions or new team builds.
There is also bad news for seasoned players: Any of your purchases or belongings in the PC version do not transfer to League of Legends: Wild Rift. Your level starts over, along with your inventory of champions, skins, and any other progress you may have made. The mobile version is considered a completely separate game in this aspect.
The biggest concern I had about Wild Rift can't be assuaged until the game comes out. Unfortunately, the first thing I thought of when I heard about League of Legends: Wild Rift is wondering if the harsh community that seems to have formed within the PC League of Legends would transfer over. It may be too soon to tell now, but with the streamlined and customizable chat features and the mobility of playing from your phone, it's possible that it cools off. I think the hassle it would take to type chat on mobile may stop the hostility as well, but I'm cautious. I look forward to seeing how it pans out as the game gains some traction.
League of Legends: Wild Rift: Should you play it?
4.5 out of 5
This mobile iteration of a popular PC game transferred surprisingly well. The controls are easy to pick up and the tutorials really do make it easy for beginners to join in. However, if you are just starting out you may have to do some research into the characters you gain along the way, as you won't continue to get that kind of instruction on everyone. If you've been playing League of Legends on PC, you should know also that your progress and possessions won't transfer. While the customizable chat options could be a big help in the previous community issues League of Legends is known for, I'll wait to be optimistic about it until League of Legends: Wild Rift has been out for a while.