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League of Legends' mobile spin-off looks awesome

League of Legends: Wild Rift is a faster, simpler version of the incredibly intimidating PC MOBA, and it looks really good so far. The mobile and console spin-off was first announced during Riot Games' tenth anniversary livestream back in October, but at the time all we knew was it would be a pared down version of LoL. Today, though, Riot finally showed off an extended gameplay preview and talked about core systems like cosmetic skins, the champion roster, and more.

If you're a LoL fan, the video above is worth watching in its entirety because there's a lot of information covered and parts of Wild Rift are better understood by seeing them in action. But the gist is that, well, Wild Rift looks great. Instead of clicking furiously to move your character around, you control them directly using a virtual touch joystick for your left thumb, with abilities controlled by your right thumb. Skill shots like Olaf's axe throw, for example, will automatically turn the ability button into a second virtual joystick for aiming, effectively turning Wild Rift into a twin-stick shooter of sorts.

That's just the beginning, though. Unlike LoL, where matches can last up to an hour (or more), Wild Rift aims to cut down a lot of complexity and bloat for matches that maybe last 20 minutes. Each team's Nexus, the building you have to destroy to win the game, no longer has turrets defending it, for instance. The map is also smaller and buying items to buff your champion is much faster and more intuitive. I particularly love the addition of upgraded jungle camps that provide stronger buffs in the late game, and the four new types of drakes that teams can fight over for extra buffs is especially cool.

Since Wild Rift is aiming to be a much simpler version of LoL, it also won't have the enormous 140-plus champion pool—not at launch, anyway. To start, Riot Games showed off maybe a dozen champions who will be available, with the promise that more will come. Those champions won't be exact clones of their PC versions, though, as many have had their abilities adjusted to account for the different control scheme or faster pacing. Miss Fortune's Double Shot ability, for example, is now a skill shot instead of a targeted attack, and Shyvana gets specific buffs for her dragon form depending on what type of drake she recently killed.

Though I don't really play games on my phone that much, I'm excited to see how Wild Rift toys with LoL's fundamentals, and the control scheme seems pretty comfortable. It'll be good to have a version of LoL that doesn't eat up 30-plus minutes of my day, too.

Wild Rift is still a ways out. Riot Games said the first phase of the alpha test is a two-week closed test in Brazil and the Philippines. After that, the alpha will expand to other regions—but who knows how long it could take to arrive in North America and Europe. The other bit of sad news is that Riot already confirmed Wild Rift will be a separate game from LoL, so you won't be able to transfer cosmetics or champions over, either.

If you want to sign up for the alpha test of League of Legends: Wild Rift, you can do so here. 

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.