Recently, Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill posted the following on Twitter.
Wow! A League of Legends MMO.
While I don’t relish the idea of dumping $50 upfront and then $10 a month for the rest of time to play a game, I do admit that this idea intrigues me. Other people seem to be outright excited about this game, which may or may not be in development at all or ever see the light of day.
I’ve had some interesting conversations about what a League of Legends MMO might be like, and there are a couple points people seem to be in agreement about.
End-game raids have a lot of neat potential bosses, such as Xerath, Zilean, Cho’Gath, Aurelion Sol. Or, you could go a different direction and have an invasion by the Void. Whichever route you went, Runeterra, the world in which League of Legends is set, has a lot of potential for cool end-game stuff.
But, end-game stuff comes later in the game, of course.
What really concerns me is the stuff in the middle.
I’ve played a fair amount of Star Wars: The Old Republic, another MMO.
I couldn’t tell you what the end-game content is like because the grind was so boring that I never made it there.
Unfortunately, that’s the big, glaring hole that exists in a potential League of Legends MMO. There’s not really a part of the game that exists right now that seems to lend itself particularly well to grinding, save the jungle. I’m not sure how fun that particular grind would be.
Now, I’m sure that they would have to introduce elements beyond what is found in the MOBA in order to make the concept work, but if it has the same setting it’s going to have to use at least some of the same elements.
And I have no idea how exactly that would work.
Certainly, it would be very hard to use the champions found in the base game as the classes in the MMO. Each champion only has four abilities, compared to the 20+ that would be featured in an MMO.
Plus, it would be hard to figure out different talent trees for each class if it were just a champion. When Ryze gets nerfed, you can’t spend his talent points on other trees, because there’s really only one tree. You’d have to pick up a new champion.
So, classes in a League of Legends MMO would have to be based on something else. Races, too.
Of the champions in LoL, most are human, followed by a significant number of Yordles, which are tiny bipedal creatures, Vastaya, human-like beings with animal traits, a number of magical beasts that tend to defy categorization, and a single sentient robot.
It’s going to be hard to build a truly representative set of races for Runeterra without having to support a lot of potential fringe cases.
Likewise, faction affiliation varies by race.
While humans are found in all of the factions, the other races are found in varying degrees. Vastayans are mostly in Ionia, while Yordles can be found at least in Piltover, Zaun, Demacia, Ionia, Freljord, and Bandle City.
So, maybe all races should just be available to all factions, but new problems arise from that.
Piltover and Zaun are set against each other as good users of technology and mad scientists, respectively, while Ionia represents wholesome parts of nature against the Shadow Isle’s undead perversions of the same.
The classic League of Legends conflict is Noxus vs Demacia, but they largely use the same tactics and equipment, though Noxus is for and Demacia is against magic. Still, they’re more alike than they’d probably like to admit.
And then there’s the “loose” factions: Freljord, Bandle City, Bilgewater, Shurima, Mount Targon and Icathia, which have no natural enemies within the lore unless you count Icathia as “everyone’s enemy.”
On top of that is the complexity of classes from the game tanks, fighters, slayers, mages, controllers, and marksmen, at least according to the official development team.
If you’ve been following along, hopefully, you’ve come to the realization that this is a horrible, muddled mess. It works for League of Legends, but it might not work for a League of Legends MMO.
Which is why I don’t think the new game is going to be set in the “modern day,” aka, the time in which League of Legends is set.
It’s going to be set in the time of the Rune Wars
Now, this might sound a bit crazy, but you have to wonder how much of a coincidence when League of Legends releases a cinematic featuring Ryze, a character who dedicated his life to tracking down the runes that caused the Rune Wars. What is he doing in this video? Hunting down one of those runes and locking it away forever, so that no more harm may be done with it. If they’re teasing a Rune Wars MMO, this isn’t a bad way to go about it.
The really cool thing about this theory is that it solves a lot of the problems outlined above. Because the Rune Wars happened hundreds of years before the present, most of the champions in League of Legends are not yet born.
Beyond that, the Yordle diaspora hasn’t yet happened. Noxus, Demacia, Piltover, Bilgewater, and the Shadow Isles are yet to be founded. The Empires of the Freljord, Shurmia, and Mount Targon have fallen by this point. Ionia has just been founded but on islands far from the main continent.
In short, the slate is wiped clean. We know almost nothing about the factions that fought in the Rune Wars.
Which means that the makers of the League of Legends MMO wouldn’t be tied down to most of the lore. They can chart their own course. And players of League of Legends that make the jump to the MMO won’t be disappointed that they can’t play as their favorite champs, because they largely aren’t born. This, in turn, means that your basic warriors, mages, and healers don’t seem so awkward or underpowered. They’re just what the Rune Wars need.
At least, that’s what I would do if I were making the game. And it’s a game that I could get excited for.
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