Skip to main content

What League of Legends games you should play after watching Arcane

League of Legends art.
(Image credit: Riot Games)

So you've watched Arcane and now you're thinking, "Hey, this world and its characters seem really cool. I should finally play that League of Legends game everyone talks about." That's not a terrible decision to make—especially considering League of Legends is the most popular game in the world. But the choice actually isn't that easy. There are actually a variety of games set in the Runeterra universe that Arcane is based on, not just the popular MOBA. Each one has its own strengths and will appeal to different types of players. All of them are good, but which one is the best fit for you? That's what this comprehensive breakdown will help answer. 

The best choice: Legends of Runeterra 

Released: 2020
Price: Free-to-play
Accessibility: ★★★★★

The most obvious answer for anyone wanting to explore more of the world of Arcane is to play Legends of Runeterra. Riot's digital card game came out last year and ever since has been the subject of vicious debates among PC Gamer editors as to whether it beats out the current genre champion, Hearthstone (spoiler alert: it absolutely does). 

If you've played Magic: The Gathering or any CCG from the past decade, you'll feel pretty at home with Legends of Runeterra. You take turns summoning monsters and casting spells with the goal of whittling your opponent's HP down to zero. Legends of Runeterra is far from generic, though. One of its coolest features is Champion cards, which are these ultra powerful cards that can level up and become ridiculously strong when certain conditions are met during a match. Each Champion card is adapted from a League of Legends champion, so if you're in love with Vi or Jinx from Arcane, you can build entire decks around them.

What makes Legends of Runeterra so special, though, is how generous it is. Despite being free-to-play, there's no randomized booster packs to blow money on. Instead, you just buy the cards you want directly and in-game currencies are handed out like candy just for playing a few rounds each day. And even if player-versus-player matches aren't your thing, there's an enormous singleplayer roguelike mode called Path of Champions that you can lose hours to.

So if you're looking for a softer, more inviting introduction to the League of Legends world, play some Legends of Runeterra.

The runner up: Wild Rift 

Released: 2021
Price: Free-to-play
Accessibility: ★★★★

League of Legends is a daunting and complex game that takes players thousands of hours to master. Its mobile version, however, is much easier to get into. Called Wild Rift, it's fundamentally the same game as League of Legends only heavily adapted for phones. But Wild Rift isn't some cut-rate League; Riot Games did such a phenomenal job of porting it, I almost prefer it over the original game.

The biggest difference is that Wild Rift sheds a lot of needless complexity in favor of quicker, more agile gameplay. Instead of matches that can last up to an hour, Wild Rift matches typically are over in 20 minutes. The controls are also similar to a twin-stick shooter rather than a point-and-click RTS, which makes moving around and fighting a lot more intuitive on a touchscreen. For a total beginner, Wild Rift is also super friendly. Because it's a mobile game, there's less of an emphasis on chatting and you're far less likely to experience toxicity as a result.

As someone that plays League of Legends, my only gripe with Wild Rift is that it can sometimes feel a little too slimmed down. It only has a fraction of the available champions, for example, and the simplification of items does suck some of the high-level strategy out of crafting item builds mid-match. Still, if you're dead set on trying League of Legends, Wild Rift is a more inviting alternative. 

If you're stubborn: League of Legends 

Released: 2013
Price: Free-to-play
Accessibility: ★★

League of Legends is a hard game to recommend for one reason: It is ridiculously complex. I've been playing for close to 700 hours and all I know is how little I know. Now, this can be a good thing because League of Legends is the kind of game you can play forever and still learn something new. That's what I like about it. But for a lot of people, endless complexity is a huge turnoff.

If you've never played a MOBA before, the idea is simple: You and four teammates each pick a character with unique abilities and square off against another team with the goal of destroying the Nexus located in each corner of the map. You can't just run there, though. There's defensive towers that need to be knocked down, stat-enhancing dragons to kill, and gold to farm so you can buy better items and become more powerful than the five players on the other team. But with over 150 champions—each with their own playstyle—the possibilities of what can happen during a match quickly spin out of control.

If you have a few friends to play with, League of Legends becomes infinitely more enjoyable. But on your own, it can be a tough road. It's a game of extremes, and the highs you feel from last-second victories can (and will) be undone by moments of overwhelming frustration. Because LoL is such a competitive team game, some players get really mean if they feel like you're not pulling your weight. And it can be just as demoralizing when you get paired with a teammate who refuses to cooperate.

The other thing worth mentioning is that League of Legends isn't necessarily a great way to experience the lore and story of Arcane. Because it came first, its depiction of certain champions (like Jayce and Jinx), skews much more towards cartoonish. You'll be able to unlock champs from the show relatively quickly—and there is a whole website dedicated to the lore of Runeterra to skim—but the game itself is extremely light on story.

If you can navigate the frustrations of playing it, LoL can become one of the most engrossing games you've ever played. With nearly infinite depth, there's just so much to learn and experiment with, and its esport scene is unparalleled in its production value and level of competition. There's a lot to love about LoL, but it won't be for everyone.

Don't forget: Teamfight Tactics 

Released: 2019
Price: Free-to-play
Accessibility: ★★★

The last game set in the League of Legends universe is Teamfight Tactics, which is basically like a game of chess that plays itself. That might sound boring, but I promise it's actually a ton of fun. Instead of controlling units directly, what matters is how you position them on the board and what items you give them before the battles play themselves out. Luck plays a big role, as new units are bought from a randomized shop, so you're never guaranteed to get that one unit you need to steamroll your enemies.

One thing I love about Teamfight Tactics is how often its meta is turned upside down by new expansions. Every few weeks new champions are added while old ones are rotated out, and each expansion typically has its own theme with special features that can be really fun. In the latest set, Gadgets and Gizmos, you can augment your units with special buffs that you accrue throughout the game for example.

Teamfight Tactics is a much more cerebral and contemplative experience than Runeterra or Wild Rift, and one that doesn't really connect to Arcane in a meaningful way. It's mostly just a fun minigame, but it won't deepen your understanding of the Runeterra universe or its characters.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.