With its huge 10th anniversary blitz, Riot announced a whole pile of new games. Among those was Project L, a 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, and now that we've seen the first footage and been given some scraps of information, here's what 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."
So when might we hear more?
Again, it's probably going to be a while. In January 2021, Riot revealed its plans for the 2021 year with updates on all its biggest games. Project L was absent from the lineup, so it almost certainly won't be surprise launching this year. We may not even get more information about it this year. It's fair to say we're in for a wait while the Project L team continues work and Riot focuses on other priorities.
What 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. 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, and a minigun-and-rocket-launcher wielder.
With nearly 150 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 seems to match most 2.5D fighters.
From the short bits of gameplay we got to see with a UI present, 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 pre-alpha state, it's possible there might be significant systems missing or using placeholders.
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.