League of Legends: Wild Rift Review – The Must-Play Mobile MOBA Experience

    Title: League of Legends: Wild Rift
    Developer: Riot Games
    Release Date: March 29, 2021
    Reviewed On: iOS
    Publisher: Riot Games
    Genre: MOBA

Finally living up to their namesake, Riot Games has released a mobile version of their MOBA League of Legends: Wild Rift. After playing for hours, this is the premier competitive MOBA on mobile devices that you should be playing. Still, there are some launch bugs and balance issues present, but there’s a lot here that I’ve been craving.

League of Legends initially launched in 2009. However, I would play it until 2013 due to its complicated design. For the uninitiated, League of Legends pits players in 5 vs. 5 matches in a map with three separate lanes and a jungle. The main objective is to break through enemy turrets toward their nexus and destroy it. Simple enough, right? While the mobile version is more approachable to newcomers than its PC big brother, there’s still plenty of strategic elements and nuances to Wild Rift you have to understand if you want to win.

The map is broken down into Baron Lane, Mid lane, Dragon Lane, and jungle. You’ll typically find bruisers or anyone that has their own survivability in the Baron lane. Mid lane is left for your mages and assassins as it’s the shortest lengthwise, giving them ways to disengage their turret or roam to other lanes to help out. Junglers are typically a hybrid of damage, tankiness, and escapability. Their goal is to get stronger by killing monsters, take down opponents, and take control of objectives.

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Dragon lane has an ADC (attack damage carry) and a support. These two are dependent on each other for survival and can become vital to winning in the late game. As of now, there are a little over 60 champions you can choose from and each one has a specific role. For example, you wouldn’t want to take Alistar into the mid lane because all of his abilities are centered around crowd control. You’d want to take him into the Dragon lane to help your ADC.

If you’re familiar with any competitive online multiplayer game, there’s always a specific meta that dominates certain matches. As of now, tanks are insanely overpowered, and that’s mainly due to the fact that there aren’t a lot of champions or items that can deal with them properly. Games can be won or lost in the draft selection and how your team composition forms. That’s not to say you can’t win if you have a weaker comp, since there’s always a chance for outplaying the enemy.

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Because this is a mobile game, matches typically last anywhere from 20-25 minutes. Damage numbers, stats, and even the HP of champions are different to help speed things up. You still have a laning phase, where you have to carefully farm minions (or jungle monsters for junglers) to earn gold used to purchases items.

I love that the health bar of minions turns white, indicating you’ll be able to properly last hit them and get the maximum gold out of killing it. If you don’t kill it, you’ll still get a smaller portion of gold. But if you see an opportunity to kill the enemy laner, you should take it.

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The controls are joystick-based and quite easy to handle. I do wish there was an option for tap controls, similar to Vainglory, so hopefully, we can see that in a future update. Each champion in Wild Rift generally still feels how they do on the PC version.

I was able to pick up each champion relatively quickly since I’ve been playing the League of Legends for years. ADCs in particular feel a bit too easy to play since it’s almost like an over-the-top first-person shooter. Regardless, proper mechanics and understanding the way the game should play out is what will matter most.

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You don’t have to worry about any pay-to-win options either. Each champion is strong enough as long as you know how to play them. Further, Wild Rift gives you a great number of opportunities to earn in-game currency and rewards to unlock champions. You’ll even get a few free skins as you level up. Once you hit level 10, you’ll have ranked mode unlocked where you can face opponents of similar skill level to rank up the infamous Riot leaderboards. If you hit gold 4 at the end of a season, you’ll be rewarded with a special skin for a specific champion.

I never really had an issue with matchmaking with teammates who knew what they’re doing. Occasionally, I’d get that one guy who decides to be funny and die repeatedly for no reason, but that’s kind of expected. Toxicity exists in almost every competitive game, and League of Legends: Wild Rift is no different.

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People will yell at each other a lot in chat or banter toward the enemy team. If you want wins and to be able to concentrate, I recommend you just mute everyone at the start of the game. At the time of writing this review, there is no “preferred position” option that exists on PC which lets you lock in the role you want without having to argue with your teammates during champ select. That should be coming in a future update though, so I won’t have to deal with three Baron laners and no jungler anymore.

I think the most surprising thing is that it looks slightly better than the PC version in some cases. Champions like Soraka and Leona have overhauled default splash art. There are even special animated intros for each champion (as well as their skins) when viewing their information. I never had the most powerful PC playing League of Legends, so the game just looked alright. But playing on the iPhone 11 has a very high-quality appeal and full of color.

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League of Legends: Wild Rift is the quintessential competitive mobile MOBA that you should be playing. It differentiates itself from its PC counterpart by offering simplified modes and rebalanced champions. This allows it to be more accessible to newcomers and feels great during long play sessions. There’s definitely room for updates and refinement, but what’s offered now is a great mobile experience.

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Brock Jensen

Saebyeolbe is the Tom Brady of Overwatch. MOBILE GAMERS ARE STILL GAMERS. Send me stuff [email protected]