League of Legends: Wild Rift has an unenviable task. It's a League of Legends game, so it already has the curiosity of millions.
It's also a MOBA, a genre that's often had a hard time onboarding new players, and is coming exclusively to phones and tablets (something that other franchises have had trouble convincing players is the right move... oh hey, Blizzard!).
And yet, against all odds, taking the endlessly complex systems of League of Legends and shrinking them down to your phone actually works.
Is League of Legends: Wild Rift Worth Playing?
I recently wrote about how League of Legends was essentially my first MOBA experience and that despite being pretty terrible, I was enjoying my time with it.
Wild Rift offers a very close facsimile of that experience, while making smart enough tweaks to make it feel comfortable a game of its own, and not just some kind of watered-down "Diet LoL".
One of the first changes is in its roster. Whereas League of Legends has amassed over 100 champions, Wild Rift offers over 40. While that means that there's a chance your favourite didn't make the cut (at least for now), it does make it a little easier to find one to gravitate towards.
League stalwarts like Garen, Ashe, and Braum are all here, and their abilities generally tend to work similarly to the way they do in the real game. In fact, while the majority are almost identical to their PC-based counterparts, they all feel just a little easier to grasp in Wild Rift.
That's good, because when the chaos begins and Champions are throwing spells, swords, and goodness knows what else at each other, being able to know exactly what your character is doing without needing to read tooltips on a smaller screen is a big deal.
That's not to say those kinds of explainers aren't there, though, but Wild Rift's UI goes from looking borderline illegible to impressively intuitive within the tutorial.
Yep, that's right – just like League proper, there's a tutorial here to ease players in, as well as matches against the CPU.
In truth, I've been playing for almost a week and I'm still honing my skills against the CPU, but with the game allowing players to tick off challenges and objectives in whichever mode they choose, it feels like you're constantly making progress.
Whether you're playing against other players or AI, movement is handled with a control stick which works much more accurately than you may be expecting. Underneath your right thumb, you have access to your abilities, wards, and an option to ping certain locations, enemies, or towers (thanks, Apex Legends!).
Matches are shorter than standard League of Legends games, lending them more to portable play, and item buying has been drastically streamlined. Players can now set a character build and simply tap to purchase items as they're available, either when they die or when they return to base.
If you played League of Legends but bounced off of it, or you're looking for something to play on your phone to pass the time over Christmas break, you really should try out League of Legends: Wild Rift.
With the game available for free, and impressively restrained in its implementation of microtransactions, take a trip to Summoner's Rift for a match or two... or three... four...