After years under wraps, Riot Games finally took the covers off its long-awaited League of Legends fighting game, codenamed “Project L.” The game is an assist-based fighting game that looks to borrow cues from the stories Marvel vs. Capcom franchise.
After it was first revealed in 2019, many players had expected the League of Legends fighting game to be a more traditional, one-on-one fighter, similar to Street Fighter. This was helped by developer Radiant Entertainment’s seminal effort, Rising Thunder, also being that style of game.
The game that was shown this past Sunday at Riot’s Undercity Nights event, however, was anything but. Instead, “Project L” is an assist-based fighter that allows players to pick two Runeterra champions, each able to assist the other in-game, similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom games.
According to Executive Producer Tom Cannon and Technical Lead Tony Cannon, the decision to make “Project L” assist-based wasn’t an easy one. While the team had wanted to make a 2D fighter based on League, they initially had no idea what kind of 2D fighter the game would eventually be.
“From the beginning, we knew that we wanted to make a 2D fighter set in the universe of Runeterra,” explains Tony. “But the 2D fighting space is pretty broad. Even from that starting point, there are a ton of different directions we could take the game. After lots of exploration, we’re excited to say that we’ve landed on a direction that we’re pretty pumped about.
The resulting game, as demonstrated in the “vertical slice” they showed off, looks quite similar to tag-team fighters such as the aforementioned Marvel vs. Capcom games, as well as more recent titles such as Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. What it looks to also share with the latter, is its beginner-friendly controls.
When Radiant first debuted Rising Thunder at Evo 2015, it came with a simplified control scheme that allowed moves to be pulled off with a single button. Since then, other fighting games, such as Battle for the Grid, have followed suit adding their own takes on the system. With “Project L,” Radiant once again revisits this system, though how it has been changed from Rising Thunder, is unknown.
The Cannons’ state that the goal is to make a game that’s “easy to learn, hard to master.” They promise that “Project L,” will still reward players who spend time learning the game.
Beyond that, the Cannons’ also talk about “Project L’s” online play. Tony had previously pioneered the concept of predictive “rollback” networking for peer-to-peer games. This kind of netcode allows players’ inputs to be reflected on screen consistently regardless of the amount of lag. (Read: Fighting in the time of COVID: the problems of online play and how the community has adapted)
It’s no surprise then that “Project L” will be using rollback netcode. In addition, the game will also take advantage of Riot’s technologies such as RiotDirect. The latter uses special routers that Riot deploys in an ISP’s data centers that route network traffic to and from League of Legends servers. “Project L” looks to be the first time the technology will be applied to a peer-to-peer (no server involved) game.
On top of this, the game will also use Riot’s technology to implement a leaver penalty system, properly awarding wins and losses when a player quits in the middle of a match.
As for when “Project L” will eventually drop, the Cannons’ state that the game is still deep in development and that players should not expect a playable build in 2022. Certain items, such as the game’s menus, UI, stages, roster and more still need to be fleshed out.
That said, they promised that they would do more to update players on the status of the game. With this in mind, we’ll likely learn more about “Project L”—including what its actual title will be—in the months to come.
In the meantime, watch the Project L presentation below.
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