Back during its 10th anniversary blitz, Riot announced a whole pile of new games. Among those was Project L, the working title for a League of Legends fighting game. This is what Riot’s been working towards since it bought Radiant Entertainment, a developer run by EVO co-founder Tom Cannon, back in 2016. It’s been rumored for awhile that Riot was making a fighting game. A drip-feed of info about the 2d fighter has continued since its reveal, giving us some insight into its roster and setup. Here’s everything we know.
What is Project L’s release date?
The short answer is: not anytime soon, according to the designer of Project L (and co-founder of EVO), Tom Cannon.
During Project L’s reveal on Riot’s anniversary livestream, Cannon also said: “Making fighting games is really, really tough. These are intricate games to make. And while we’re a good ways towards making something that we think is really cool, we still have a long way to go. We’re going to go dark for a while after this, so please don’t expect anything soon.”
They further updated this with new info in November 2021, describing that Project L would not release in 2022.
Project L will be free-to-play
The Runeterra 2D fighter will be joining the legion of free-to-play service games, according to a dev diary video from Riot. We don’t have any specifics for the game’s monetization scheme, but dev Tom Cannon said the decision to follow a free-to-play model was motivated by wanting to “remove as many barriers as possible from you enjoying Project L. We want you to be able to play, no matter where you live, what your skill level is, or how much money you have to spend on a game.”
What’s Project L gameplay details do we have?
A surprise look into Project L from November of 2021 gave us insight into the type of fighting game Project L is going to be. Specifically, it will be an “assist fighter”, where players create a team of two fighters, with one acting as the primary fighter, and the other able to be called in for assist attacks.
Designers Tom & Tony Cannon also described their hopes for the complexity as being one where a new player can easily jump in and learn a new character’s basic moves, but still be woefully outclassed by masters of that character.
Which characters will be in Project L?
Riot hasn’t officially announced a roster, but between the different snippets of footage they showed, we’ve seen that the League of Legends cast is out in force. Ahri, Katarina, Jinx, and Darius all put in appearances in. In the latest update, we’ve seen that Ekko will also be showing up. There’s some serious diversity there, since we’re looking at a fox-mage, an assassin with throwing knives, a bruising fighter with a giant axe, a minigun-and-rocket-launcher wielder, and a time rewinding inventor.
The August 2022 dev diary video revealed the Illaoi will be part of the Project L roster. An accompanying blog post from Riot has a lot more details about the design process of translating Illaoi into a fighting game context, but it’s clear she’ll be a powerhouse brawler, utilizing her heavy golden idol as well as her phantom sea-tentacles.
With nearly 160 champions to pick from in League of Legends, the character pool options are deep. But with so many types of champions, it’ll be interesting to see which ones make it into Project L. Most humanoid champions are probably a safe bet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if champs like Cho’Gath, Rumble, or Aurelion Sol are left out. How could they possible work in a fighting game? Well, there’s always the Goro route.
What other details do we have about Project L?
The look has been refined since the earliest previews, but matches most 2.5D fighters. From the short bits of gameplay we got to see with a UI, a lot of the usual fighting game elements are present. Health bars, EX/super gauges, a round timer, round win counters, and combo counters are all there. However, given the game is in such an early state, it’s possible there are changes ahead.
One thing to keep in mind is that Riot bought Tom Cannon’s company, Radiant Entertainment, presumably because Cannon was working on a game called Rising Thunder. Rising Thunder was unlike a lot of other fighting games in that it was specifically built to be more approachable for newer players who didn’t want to memorize long, complicated combos.
One of Rising Thunder’s coolest ideas was that an entire combo could be triggered by a simple button press. There was still a wealth of strategy in knowing invincibility frames, timings, and spacing, but you could easily play with just a keyboard instead of a fight stick.
Given that much of Riot’s design philosophy has been making more approachable versions of complicated games, like MOBAs and autochess, it’s reasonable to assume Project L will build off of Rising Thunder’s foundation.
But will Teemo be in Project L?
Never underestimate the power of the scout’s code.