Riot's League of Legends MMORPG Explained

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Credit: Riot

The developer of League of Legends, Riot Games, is working on a League of Legends MMORPG. The project has been in development for years, but very little official information has been released thus far, and most people don't even know a League MMO is on the way. So, in this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Riot's upcoming foray into the world of MMORPGs.

The History and Announcement of the League of Legends MMO

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Back in 2019 during Riot's 10-year anniversary League celebration stream the company first announced a slew of other projects including Valorant (then known as Project A); Hearthstone-competitor Legends of Runeterra; and a League of Legends mobile port, The Wild Rift.

These were the first major games developed by Riot the company had ever talked about outside of League of Legends, and in the years since, the company's portfolio has massively expanded. Now, Riot has a number of games out and even more in development.

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Included among all these upcoming games is an open-world League of Legends MMORPG. This isn't some small side project: It's a hugely ambitious project to build an MMO from the ground up in the League of Legends universe that can stand toe-to-toe with other giants of the genre like Runescape or World of Warcraft.

A League of Legends MMORPG was first teased back in 2019 alongside Riot's talk about their other in-development projects. During an interview with Riot co-founder Marc Merrill, the developer noted that Riot would likely never work with another studio to build an MMO, preferring to develop a game that expensive and ambitious in-house.

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He went on to say that the idea of making an MMO had already been tossed around internally but that giving the green light to a project like that was a lot more complicated than just having ideas. According to Merrill, the cost of an MMO at a scale gamers would expect from a major company like Riot could easily exceed $100 million and take years to develop.

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This made a League MMO sound like it might happen but that it wasn't a sure thing. That changed in 2020 when Riot officially announced a League of Legends MMORPG was in development. Riot Vice President Greg Street announced that his 'new job' was to build an 'MMO title' in the League of Legends universe.

Details beyond the mere existence of the project were few, but Street went on to discuss how the company was announcing the project early in part as a call to developers to help build the game. This is very similar to CDPROJEKTRED's initial 2013 announcement of Cyberpunk 2077 that also served as a call to developers to join the Cyberpunk team.

Based on what Riot has said officially and their history and reputation, it's safe to say their MMO isn't going to be some kind of small-scale side project. It won't be some kind of indie, heavily-instanced MMO made by a team of 10 people to test the MMO waters. With years of development time and a likely cost in the hundreds of millions, this game will compete with the likes of World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, New World, and Black Desert Online.

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The League of Legends MMO: What We Know

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Officially, nothing about the specific details of the game have been announced beyond the fact that there's an MMO set in the League of Legends universe in development at Riot. However, when you read in between the lines, some things become clear.

For example, champions in League of Legends come from thirteen different regions of the League of Legends world. Eight of these regions are even the 'card regions' in Legends of Runeterra. Considering all this, it's probably likely that some if not most of these areas will come to a League of Legends MMO.

In Legends of Runeterra, on top of the region overlap generally, there's actually a map of the League of Legends world. Obviously, this is in the context of Runeterra and may not be the entire world or the world exactly as it will appear in the MMO, but if both games are set in the same universe, it's likely there will be some overlap.

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Riot has been hard at work, for years, building up lore and backstory for their games and characters. Today, there's quite a depth and complexity to the stories they've written, but largely, they haven't found a great way to tell these stories. This is starting to change with media like Arcane, but none of Riot's actual games are that story-focused.

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So, it stands to reason that a League of Legends MMO won't bet set in an entirely new area in a world we haven't ever truly ever seen and rather will bring together a lot of the work already done building out the universe, lore, and characters of League of Legends.

We can also extrapolate a bit from the classes in League of Legends itself and the playstyles empowered by those classes. In League, you can play as a damage-dealer or a tank; you can use magic or fight with weapons. League has a variety of fantasy classes that give players different ways to play similar to classic RPGs with tanks, mages, warriors, etcetera.

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Accordingly, it's also a pretty safe bet we'll see these kinds of classes in a League of Legends MMORPG. Maybe they won't be explicit identical copies of the classes in League, but the spirit of these classes is extremely familiar territory for RPGs, especially MMORPGs.

Lastly, now Lead Producer of the project Greg Street, has discussed his absolute love of raiding that traces its way back to Street's time as a World of Warcraft developer. He's talked about how he would personally "be crushed" if the team couldn't deliver epic endgame battles in the context of the League of Legends MMO.

We can consider that a pretty explicit confirmation raids will be a part of the upcoming MMO, but outside of these few details, not much else is known. A release date has not been announced, and we can assume it will be years before the game actually comes out. However, more details are certain to surface as the game's development gets further along, so make sure to keep your eyes open.