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Project L: What we know about the League of Legends Fighting Game
Showcasing crisp movement, assists,and a great design philosophy, fighting game legends Tom and Tony Cannon gave the first look at Project L.
For a while, Riot was quiet about their fighting game, Project L. But there have been at least a few updates, giving us a glimpse of what to expect in the future. There’s some exciting information to be found, especially for fighting game veterans.
The team behind Project L
Riot Games brought in experts to develop Project L. The project is spearheaded by Tom and Tony Cannon. The twins are fighting game veterans and co-founders of Evo, among other things. Tony Cannon started developing Rollback Netcode in 2006. A type of data transmission for the online play of fighting games that is vastly superior to Delay Based Netcode, and is being used in numerous games such as Guilty Gear Strive and the upcoming The King of Fighters XV.
Before the Cannons joined Riot Games, they launched Rising Thunder. The title offered some innovative approaches, but they didn't appeal to every player. Special moves can be equipped in various forms and have different cool downs. However, these are only visible to the player using the character.This makes local play impossible since each player needs their own interface. In the spectator view, on the other hand, a regular HUD was visible, similarly to other fighting games.
In August 2019, Tom Cannon announced that the Rising Thunder team was working on a new title, 2 months later, this turned out to be Project L.
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How does Project L play?
In the most recent trailer, Tom and Tony Cannon give us a deeper dive into the mechanics of Project L. As expected, the title is a classic 2D fighter but, for the first time we got to see the core features in action, assist mechanics.
Since League of Legends is a game that relies heavily on team synergy, Project L aims to convey that feeling as well. That means you don't just choose a champion as your fighter, but a duo. The player controls one character while the second is available for assist attacks or to be substituted in. Currently it looks like Project L will offer a 2v2 system.
Of course, the title is primarily reminiscent of the classic Capcom vs. games, such as Marvel vs. Capcom. The Project L team also includes former developers of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, so you can expect similarities in the game’s system.
Just like Power Rangers, Project L also relies on special moves that are triggered simply by pressing a button combined with a direction. That means the title probably won't be heavy on the classic inputs like quarter circles, semi circles, and dragon punches. This decision was made to give newer players faster access to a character's move set.
But Tony and Tom Cannon stress that they don't want to make Project L "simplistic" by any means. As veterans of the FGC, they know that a lot of the excitement comes from watching experts use a character in ways you never would have imagined. This creates motivation and the will to want to reach this level as well. If you put more time into the game, you should definitely be rewarded for it, they go on to say,
It's not about beginners having a chance to beat a pro. It's about having fun at every skill level.
During the show, there was a short presentation of the champion Ekko. The Cannons use this opportunity to give fighting game connoisseurs a few deeper insights into the Project L movement system. Among other things, they demonstrate the possibility of interrupting dashes with a crouch, resulting in a “wavedash”, seen in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, for example. The detailed demonstration by Ekko also makes it clear how much passion and creativity goes into the implementation of the well-known champions for Project L.
What about outside the game?
We know that Project L will be shipping with rollback netcode, and we’ve gotten some good looks at the mechanics, but what other news have we seen?
In a recent video update over Twitter, Tom Cannon shared a few new things concerning infrastructure and the goals of the development team. The major news is that like their other major games, League of Legends and VALORANT, Project L will be free-to-play.
This is a huge space that isn't fully developed in the fighting game industry. A giant like Riot Games filling this spot will be momentous, as they have a lot of experience with free-to-play games.
Which characters are confirmed?
In previous trailers, you could see the following champions in action:
Based on artwork in the developer's studio, and a folder called "Goodies", within the current version of Rising Thunder, we can assume that the following characters will also find their way into Project L (these are currently unconfirmed):
Fighting game players unfamiliar with those names can catch a glimpse of the champions by watching the Red Bull Solo Q 2021 World Final. The finals of the event took place on December 4th and 5th and can be found here:
We’re hoping for these 5 characters
- Possible playstyle: Traps
- Similar Characters: Kokonoe (BlazBlue), Testament (Guilty Gear)
- There are characters in various fighting games who rely on placing traps on the stage to keep the opponent at a distance or to strengthen their own offensive. Heimerdinger would be perfect in this role thanks to his turrets.
- Possible Playstyle: Grappler/Mid-Range
- Similar Characters: Birdie (Street Fighter)
- Grapplers usually want to be as close to their opponent as possible. Birdie in Street Fighter V shows that you can also fight effectively at a distance with the appropriate normal and special moves. Maokai could use his Sprout Charge for this, only to charge at the opponent with his Twisted Charge.
- Possible Playstyle: Charge-Based Offense
- Similar Characters: Holy Order Sol (Guilty Gear), G (Street Fighter)
- Similar to League of Legends, Riven could collect charges for her sword, which then gives her access to improved special moves. Alternatively, a larger sword could also increase the range of their normals. So the player has to make a choice between better neutral and reinforced specials.
- Possible playstyle: Puppet
- Similar Characters: Carl Clover (BlazBlue), Zato-1 (Guilty Gear)
- Of course, it would be very ironic if the mechanical clockwork puppet Orianna became a puppet character. However, this playstyle fits like a glove. Players could control Orianna's ball separately from the character to create particularly distressing mix-ups.
- Possible playstyle: Instal-based
- Similar characters: Phoenix (Marvel vs. Capcom), Valkenhayn (BlazBlue)
- There are some characters in League of Legends that change shape. Shyvana is one of them. One possibility would be that she can switch to her dragon form at any time, which consumes a resource, or that she has to work toward it as an ultimate.
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