I'm past my MOBA days. I had a big, 2,000+ hour love affair with Dota 2 that spanned a few years, and I dabbled a bit in League of Legends too, but my tastes (and my tolerance for elevated blood pressure) changed. Still, I've kept my eye on the genre with passing curiosity.
League of Legends—and Riot Games—are still major monoliths. Riot slugs around so much dough that it was able to pour a mountain of money into animation studio Fortiche to produce Arcane, a Netflix series I unexpectedly adored, then buy a chunk of it afterwards. Solid storytelling, good writing, and some of the best animation I'd seen since 2018's Into the Spiderverse, only beaten out by its recent sequel.
So the latest trailer for the blood-hungry champion Briar—shown above—doesn't make me hanker for the days of split-pushing lanes, but it sure makes me thirsty for Arcane's second season. Riot's artists are still killing it—and so is Briar, her world breaking into a stylised pink cut-out playground whenever she goes into a blood frenzy.
The paper cut-outs here are reminiscent of Across the Spiderverse's Hobie Brown (Spider-Punk), and they lend a gorgeous element to Briar's cannibal rampage through her prison as she 'protects' her 'friend'. The awesome pillory around her arms is a permanent part of her design—in an official blog, lead concept artist Sunny Pandita goes into more detail on that concept:
"We needed to visually communicate this idea of game design's (the idea of holding back a powerful, monstrous nature) so we zeroed in on the concept of a physical restraint. And pretty early on, Gem 'Lonewingy' Lim actually did the first sketch of her in a pillory. We believed in that idea. She looked comfortable in her restraint, which immediately creates curiosity."
The full blog's a good read—and it seems Riot's creative projects are back on form after its bizarre anomaly of 2023's season cinematic in early January, which was so anaemic that Riot had to apologise for it. From what I understand there's been some in-client teasers too, complete with a point-and-click style minigame that led to a fun little jumpscare where Briar presumably eats the poor cameraman. Here's a compilation courtesy of Youtube channel SkinSpotlights.
I'm glad to see those teams being given the support and time to make rad stuff like this—stuff that, unfortunately, does nothing to make me want to pick up the mouse and practise my last-hitting again. It's a stellar advertisement for Arcane's second season though, assuming the same artists are working on it. If you're still plugged into the Rift, you can look forward to Briar hitting the lanes early September.