We’ve finally gotten our first piece of Project L news this year, and it’s a big one. Project L will be free to play! This may not come as a massive shock to fans of other Riot Games projects, but in the AAA fighting game scene this is a massive leap. In addition, it was revealed that the mystical bruiser Illaoi will also be joining the base roster of the game, as elaborated in a dedicated blog post.
The video also gives a brief update on the current state of development for the game. The core gameplay development is finished, leaving character development, competitive or social features. Also, while microtransactions will be present Tom stated: We operate with one approach - if we don’t like it, we won’t do it. When it comes to monetization we promise to be respectful of your time and your wallet”.
As it stands right now, there aren’t many big budget fighting games out there that have taken the leap into a free-to-play model. MultiVersus is the largest and most recent example and while it may have shot to the moon with 100,000 concurrent PC players on launch, it’s impossible to gauge what portion of that success comes from the free cost of entry or the colourful cast. Nonetheless, not having to pay to play is a massive boon for the title’s accessibility.
Moving forward to Illaoi, fans of the character will be pleased to hear they are sticking with the melee powerhouse vibe the character oozes in the MOBA. In the aforementioned blogpost, game designer Caroline “Riot Shyvana” Montano writes: “When it comes to what archetype I’d use to describe Illaoi, it would probably be a “Big Body Juggernaut.” An overwhelming battering ram who has the power of a god behind her.”
For those not super in deep with the fighting game genre, a Juggernaut character fits somewhere between a grappler and rushdown character in feel - as if Zangief and Balrog from Street Fighter had a baby. This means big hits and big damage, paired with a lumbering move speed.
While we’ve not seen Illaoi in action yet, there’s a sense from the blog post that updates on new characters may be coming faster than the pre-ordained big updates from Tom Cannon’s mouth. In the same blog post Sean Rivera writes: “We’ll check back in later on in her process with devs from areas like animation, visual effects, and audio to see how everyone’s favourite big bodied, spirit tentacle-using juggernaut is shaping up.”
With that said, we’ve got one last big update from Project L set for this year! Whether it’s more information on characters, or a final name announcement, remains to be seen. Either way, we’re eager to find out more!
If you want more Project L content, check out our articles on Five League of Legends characters we'd love to see in Project L, as well as our piece on whether Project L has what it takes to make it big.