League of Legends Fighter, Project L, Gets First Gameplay Deep Dive

Project L won't be out in 2022, but Riot promises more updates.

Riot’s assist-based League of Legends fighting game, Project L, made its first appearance since the game’s reveal almost two years ago. In nearly six minutes of footage, the studio shared a deep dive into a few of Project L’s champions and explained their guiding development ideas.

Executive producer Tom Cannon and Technical Lead Tony Cannon say the game has changed quite a bit over time, but extensive R&D is shaping Project L up quickly and landed them in a more definitive direction. The reintroduction video debuts several champions you may be familiar with already, like Jinx, Ahri, Darrius, and Ekko. Both Tom and Tony want you to see Project L’s likenesses with League, so champion kits should be familiar while servicing what players would expect from a 2D fighter.

Riot also wants to attract the fighting scene’s most competitive players while engaging those of us not trying to make Evo’s main stage—that’s another way of just saying me. Their guiding principle is the “easy-to-learn, hard-to-master” mindset.

All of this is demonstrated through their preview of Ekko, whose time-bending mechanics from Summoner’s Rift return in Project L. Ekko can phase in and out to confuse opponents by generating an after-image he rewinds back to as he pleases. All of this is to say; the guy looks like he’s just as slippery in Project L as he is in League of Legends, and it’s pretty damn cool to see the fighter stay that loyal to Ekko’s origins.

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Tom and Tony acknowledged conversations fighting game enthusiasts have around netcode, too, and the importance that infrastructure has now that it’s harder to gather for in-person events. “For Project L, we’ve designed our entire networking stack to deliver the same highly responsive gameplay that you’d get playing offline,” Tom explained.

Project L’s netcode will build from systems that already exist at Riot, like RiotDirect, which the company uses to minimize ping in League of Legends and Valorant. If someone is lagging on their end, Riot says that shouldn’t impact your own experience, and players that ragequit will be punished by the system while declaring their opponent the winner.

While it sounds like Project L is really coming along, it’s still in R&D and not ready for the public yet. You won’t be able to play this year or even in 2022, but Riot promised in their blog post that you would get at least two updates next year—one of which is set for the early second half of 2022. I’m assuming that means summer…ish.

I’m horrible at fighting games, but I love the spectacle and driving my more serious friends mad by button mashing. While Riot’s fighter was probably the last thing from the Runeterra universe on my radar, it’s pretty neat to see a game translating MOBA kits into a 1v1 showdown. Riot, if you add Soraka and Kog’maw to the roster, I promise I’ll at least give the thing a shot.