League of Legends: Wild Rift launched in October 2020 and has already amassed over 20 million average monthly players. Wild Rift takes many favorites from League of Legends proper, like Ahri, Senna, Lucian, Vi, Jinx, and Caitlyn, to name a few, and allows players to use them in mobile team matches. If you’re not familiar, Wild Rift works from the core of League of Legends as a fundamental foundation, but employs mechanics, game length, and even character choices differently than the PC game.
The characters, however, stay true to their PC counterparts mechanically and aesthetically. Wild Rift matches are about 15 minutes long compared to the typical 45 minutes in League of Legends. Wild Rift is basically a sped-up version of playing League of Legends on your phone, but it flourishes in its own right, attracting players from far and wide with the ease of mobile gaming. GameSpot recently participated in a panel discussion on Wild Rift’s newest patch, 3.14: Power Spike. This patch adds new items, characters, and balance changes to the Wild Rift roster and is live now.
If you want to see the exact balance changes and specific buffs/nerfs to character stats, you can check out the Champion Changes for Wild Rift 3.4 which details all of your numerical needs. You can go here to see the patch notes, but below you can get information on what’s new and what’s new in Wild Rift directly from the developers.
Additions to the Wild Rift roster will be added over time with Patch 3.14: Power Spike. Gwen, the Hallowed Seamstress, and Yone the Forgotten made their Wild Rift debuts on September 15 and 22, respectively. “2022 is going to have a lot of edgelords,” Wild Rift product manager David Xu joked about the upcoming character releases of Gwen, Yone, Vex, and Warwick.
Gwen brings her legendary Holy Mist with her iconic scissors in hand and is able to take down enemies. Yone brings his dual swords and energetic mechanics to slice through enemies with elegance, grace, and quick death. “2022 is going to be very much focused on bringing in some of what we think are some of our heavy hitters – the much-requested champions,” Xu said. “In 2023, that’s when we’ll start bringing in more niche champions. Champions that fill more specific themes or specific gameplay [mechanics] What are we searching for. Expect to see some of the other League of Legends PC Champions hidden treasures in later milestones.”
Outside of the Power Spike update, Wild Rift also received its first major map update with Elemental Rift. “We made big changes to the objective system as well as map switching throughout the game.”
Wild Rift itself has different issues and priorities to address in contrast to League of Legends on PC, such as the ping system. There is less functionality on a mobile platform to communicate with teammates relative to League of Legends on PC, the developers said. “For Wild Rift, there are often unique challenges and differences to our game that are specific to Wild Rift compared to LoL. We really wanted to adjust [the] Elemental Rift to help players have better agency in their games and feel better overall when it comes to the pace and amount of stress in the game,” said Adnan Mirza, Game Producer for Wild Rift.
An example offered by Mirza is that communication is generally more difficult between players on mobile devices since the audience doesn’t really like to talk or use headphones. Sometimes this means changing things that work in League of Legends to better fit mobile devices. “Whenever [players] would watch any content, even if it’s from League PC, we’re always thinking about how it would fit better with Wild Rift. [For example]We’ve left out some of the intricacies of the game and some of the decision points because that was causing a lot of fatigue for our players.”
In-game communication in team-based games can be tough on a mobile platform, but this Wild Rift update will have new ping system options. These new options do not replace the default ones, but are extra preferences. “Improving communication will always be a great [aspect] for us,” Mirza said.
Similar to League of Legends PC, the latest Wild Rift update will also add additional items to the game. New item releases can help provide improved benefits to players that previous items were unable to compete with. Sometimes it is necessary to give specific roles more options of items to equip so that they can be in a better state for the match or the game in general.
“We wanted to improve the gaming experience for supports. We made a lot of balance changes in those slots to add new enchantments, tweak some parts of the game, and now add support items. Supports now have a better ability to control their own experience and have more agency, Mirza said.
Player feedback is always sent to the developers of MOBAs like Wild Rift, and the Riot team wants to take into account any feedback or questions players may have while playing Wild Rift. “We have been seeing [increased] success with any of the player feedback [and] the other different metrics that we have,” Mirza said. A good example is feedback from players who have a harder time using supports in-game compared to other roles. The developers would like to bring future Wild Rift content that doesn’t come solely from League of Legends PC or has previous core elements.
Skins have been a mainstay of League of Legends on PC for years. They are meticulously crafted, whimsical, and wonderfully crafted themes or cosmetic mods for already released champions. Some of the skins released in the Power Spike update are Space Groove Gwen, Crystal Rose Yone, Bewitching Vex, and Superhero Jayce.
“We still want to keep releasing PC fan favorite skins that people really like, and make sure Wild Rift players have the opportunity to pick something that really resonates with them or speaks to them in a particular way,” Jared Berbach, said Wild Rift’s game director.
As the other Wild Rift developers have stated, Berbach is also looking forward to future releases in 2023: “Our story is really about how we can make things feel more unique to Wild Rift and potentially even unique to Wild Rift. Just kind of a gift to our player base that we want them to enjoy.” Berbach said: “We have a lot of players who choose to stay with us. [exclusively] on Wild Rift, and we want to reward that investment with our time with great new tracks that you guys can enjoy.”
History and Diversity
League of Legends, and Wild Rift in particular, are played by gamers from everywhere, with many different groups of color, marginalized identities, and ethno-religious backgrounds. In the past, Riot Games has had explicit issues with character releases, where ethnic whitewashing of characters of color like Lucian is prevalent. The company has even had white characters given very orientalist aesthetics, tropes, or masks over the years with lunar reveals, for example.
When asked if they induce more foresight when creating skins for Wild Rift, Berbach said, “We know that in order to reach global audiences, we need to be able to represent all of those underrepresented groups.”
Riot has established RIGs (Riot Interest Groups) with the idea of bringing together groups of people to represent people of underrepresented identities. “They are always part of a process that we use in [the] creation of champions and skins. For example, when we created Lucian, we had a very extensive process between the game team and that RIG to support them specifically, their ideas about how we could bring that character authentically and avoid a lot of the tropes that [Veerender Singh Jubbal] he’s describing,” Berbach said.
Mirza chimed in from a personal point of view: “I worked a lot on the game and have less direct involvement in the art, but I do see the conversations and comments. I’m also from South Asia, and I know colorism happens, sometimes, and it reminds me of quite prominent marketing slogans in Urdu like ‘Of Gora hoga’. They will be fair-skinned or fair-skinned now. Something that I’m pretty self-aware of, and from my perspective, it never really felt intentional from [Riot Games].”
When moving across media within a company, concerns or issues may just arise from changing different teams or developers in the build process. An immense amount of creative effort goes into concept art for a character until the audience can play it. Errors such as authenticity may not fully translate into the entire process.
“Sometimes I think there’s been a loss in the translation aspect when you go from one medium to another, whether it’s in-game or in 2D art. Sometimes these things don’t quite line up, but the team tries very hard to get ahead of these [aspects], and when you mess up, you try really hard to fix it.” Mirza said. “I have a sense of my sense sensitivity because of the culture I’m from. We never claim to be perfect, but we try very hard and try to listen to feedback. [to] make changes when these different arts don’t line up with what they’re supposed to be.”
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