Riot’s forthcoming League of Legends collectible card game, Legends of Runeterra, will open its digital doors to the general public on Friday, January 24, when it officially enters open beta on PC. While this won’t be the full-on launch of the game, it is the first time that Riot has committed to no longer wiping player accounts with each Legends of Runeterra update. Until now, player accounts have been malleable receptacles for temporary cards, with no expectation of permanence. But starting with the launch of LoR‘s “Open Beta Season” on Jan. 23 (I’ll get to that in a second), players will permanently keep everything they acquire.
Since everything is permanent now, I assume we’ll also start seeing real-money transactions show up during open beta, but Riot hasn’t said either way. If you have previously pre-registered for Legends of Runeterra on PC; participated in 2019’s “preview patches;” or pre-register for the open beta before 11:59 p.m. Pacific on Jan. 19, you’ll gain access to the open beta at 11 a.m. Pacific on Jan. 23, 24 hours before the rest of us plebs. This is also when the game’s first official season begins, bringing with it a new Ranked mode, friends lists, the ability to challenge friends, new boards, and new Guardians (read: pets). Riot says that this build of the game will update more than 20 cards, along with other unspecified “improvements.”
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Of those 20 cards, Riot specifically calls out Anivia as receiving a “major update,” though no specifics were given. In her current form, Anivia is an expensive, but powerful Champion card that reincarnates as a stronger version of herself every time she dies, provided that the other player is unable to remove the egg of her next incarnation before it hatches. (Anivia is an ice demigod that takes on the form of a bird, hence the egg. There are no humanoid ladies that hatch from eggs in the League of Legends universe, at least not as far as I’m aware — please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. It’s possible that Neeko comes from an egg and Riot has just never talked about it, but I’ll save that for my fanfic.)
Riot hasn’t said how long the open beta will last, just that folk should still expect the full launch of the game for both PC and mobile (with cross-play!) sometime later this year — no word on if the mobile port will join the beta festivities before then. Everyone that participates in the open beta will receive a “Moonstruck Poro Guardian” whenever the game does eventually exit beta testing, so that’s fun. If there’s one thing I know about League of Legends fans, its that they love Poros. And who wouldn’t! Cute little dudes look like I should be rescuing them in a mascot platformer on the original PlayStation, they’re perfect.
Originally announced last October, Legends of Runeterra is the latest game to take a shot at Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering Arena, combining the friendly cartoon demeanor of the prior with some of the more granular rule structures of the latter. As one would expect, the game transforms well-known League of Legends Champions into cards, which players level up to unlock new abilities, just like in League. And also as in League, each Champion has its own specific Cool Thing™ that it does to differentiate itself from the others.
Riot isn’t the developer to try and transform a popular MOBA into a card game. That honor goes to Valve, whose legendarily bungled CCG Artifact entered the scene in 2018 with negative amounts of goodwill and a historically ill-conceived monetization structure that torpedoed any chances it had to recover from its disastrous announcement. Hopefully Riot has learned some of Valve’s lessons.