A deep dive into “Project L” the League of Legends fighting game

Riot Games has just announced that the guys who were formerly Radiant Entertainment are, indeed, working on a League of Legends fighting game. Unfortunately, they weren’t willing to tell us many details yet, and they explicitly said they will be “going dark” for the foreseeable future, so we shouldn’t expect any announcements any time soon.

However, they also showed us a few short snippets of gameplay, and to the trained fighting gamer a few snippets is all you need to draw some conclusions. Keep in mind, the game is still in heavy development, but if the final product is anything like what we saw in the reveal then we can draw the following conclusions.

The juggle system and infinite prevention

Street Fighter and other similar games run on a “juggle point” system. Basically, once a character has been knocked into the air you have a certain amount of points worth of attacks to hit them with before the combo ends. Certain attacks, like super, don’t cost any juggle points. Certain attacks cost more. Certain attacks cost less. Sometimes, using the same attack more than once will cost more juggle points than usual. There are a ton of intricacies for juggle systems that vary from game to game.

The League fighting game will likely have a juggle system. Why? Because it says so right in the U.I. Underneath the combo counter you can actually see the game telling you how many juggle points you have left.

(Apologies for the poor quality image. These are YouTube screenshots of cam footage after all.)

However, it is also very likely that this game uses a hit-stun degradation system similar to BlazBlue. We can actually tell in this small clip of Jinx VS Katarina. Jinx knocks Katarina into the air with a launcher which sets her juggle points to four (once again you can see under the hit counter). She then hits Katarina with a mini-gun attack reducing her juggle points to three. However, Katarina then “techs out” of the combo after not being hit for a certain period of time, flashing white in the process.

Hit-stun degradation usually goes hand-in-hand with juggle points as a secondary backup to prevent infinite combos. Since juggle points only ever come into play while your opponent is in the air, hit-stun degradation can prevent infinite combos while on the ground. If this system stays the same until launch, expect both in the final product.

“Traits”

Games such as BlazBlue and Injustice give each of their characters a special trait, and it appears as if the same will be done in the League fighting game. In a clip of Darius VS. Katarina, we can see small icons next to their super meters. These icons appear to be keeping track of some value. Darius’s axe icon is only partially full. Katarina, on the other hand, appears to have knife icons that, presumably, count down as she uses knife related specials. Special traits are one area where fighting games and MOBAs crossover, so there is a lot of room to make characters feel unique using individual character mechanics.

Meter

There are a few different meters to take note of. Aside from trait meters we have:

The super meter

This appears to operate similar to Street Fighter’s super meter. A single segment allows a character to use an EX move. We see Katarina using an EX teleport, flashing orange in the process, and it uses up one bar of her super meter. Prior to using that move, it appears as if she is finishing off a cinematic super animation. You might think that this requires an entire four stocks of super bar, but she is left with one bar remaining after execution, leading us to surmise that supers currently cost two or three bars.

Tug-Of-War bar

Underneath the timer there appears to be some sort of bar that wobbles back and forth as players fight. The closest thing we can compare this to is Under-Night’s GRD system. However, it’s not entirely clear what this bar is for. Perhaps it’s meant to simulate the momentum gained in a MOBA scenario, as your creeps push past enemy towers? We will have to wait and see.

Guard meter? Stun meter?

We are taking a blind stab at this one. There is a meter that seems to fill underneath each player’s health meter. Usually this is where you would place something like a guard meter, except usually guard meters deplete as you get hit and we have seen clips of both these meters at zero. It seems like these meters increase as you get hit, leading us to believe that this is a Third Strike style stun meter. When it fills all the way, your character may get dizzy.

Charge moves

Early on in the gameplay showcase we see Darius wind back his axe before the blade flashes and then he strikes down with it. This points toward “chargeable” moves being in the game. Small graphic touches like that are usually included to tell players when a chargeable or delayable move has reached full strength. Darius can likely release this move earlier, but in the clip we he doesn’t, getting hit by a fairly standard fireball for charging too long.

Match length

At no point do we see the round timer go above sixty seconds. This points toward round being about a minute long, similar to Street Fighter rounds. We also see round indicators over each players’ health bar, making it appear as if matches are best two out of three by default.

Blocking and graphics

At one point we see Katarina block and she turns blue. This might point toward a sort of perfect block/parry system that grants you bonuses if you block right before an attack hits.

The game seems to be using color flashes to note several character states. White seems to point toward invincibility, since we have seen characters flash white on wake up and “teching” out of a juggle.  Orange is used for EX moves and blue seems to be used for perfect blocking. It’s possible we will also see colored indicators for mechanics such as super armor as well.

Netcode

This one wasn’t surmised by what they showed but rather who they showed. Tom Cannon, who announced the project and who ran Radiant Entertainment, is one of the creators of GGPO, the first and to this day best rollback netcode system for fighting games. What does this mean? Well it means that the League fighter is going to have incredibly smooth online play. In fact, if it was anything like Radiant’s last project, Rising Thunder, then it might be online only.

Unfortunately that’s all we were able to surmise from what we were shown, but hey, it’s quite a bit for only a few seconds of footage. Overall it looks like this game will be largely modeled off of Street Fighter with a few more aggressive elements thrown in. We can expect more information from the team next year at the earliest.