League of Legends developer Riot Games is making a fighting game

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Riot Games is working on a fighting game but will it be set in the League of Legends universe?

I’m not much of a fighting game fan. It’s not that I don’t respect the genre; I’m just not very good at them. I find Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken and the likes fun, but in a casual way. But tell me Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, is working on a new fighting game and my ears perk up.

Well, that’s exactly what happened at the annual fighting game tournament EVO this weekend. During an appearance on the EVO stream, Tom Cannon — the tournament co-founder and Riot employee — confirmed that his team at Riot is working on a fighting game.

“Back in 2016, when we joined forces with Riot, I said that we were going to go in the hole for a while,” Cannon said, “and I want to be able to let people in on maybe the worst kept secret in the universe, which is I can confirm that we are working on a fighting game for Riot.”

The interview was spotted by eSports reporter Rod “Slasher” Breslau, who shared a snippet on Twitter.

Riot Games acquired Radiant Entertainment back in 2016. At the time, Radiant — which was founded by brothers Tom and Tony Cannon — was working on a PC fighting game called Rising Thunder. The free-to-play game was set in the far future and featured giant robots duking it out for supremacy.

But what made the game unique was Radiant’s approach to make the fighting genre more accessible. Rising Thunder used simplified controls as opposed to the traditional motion or charge commands used by most 2D fighting games; but, it still maintained a deep combat system. The game also made use of Cannon’s GGPO3 netcode, which allowed for lagless matches.

“The reason why we did Rising Thunder in the first place was because we felt like fighting games just deserve to be enjoyed by way more people,” Cannon explained. “As big as things are, we think it has the potential to get bigger.”

Under Riot Games, which already develops one of the most popular games in the world in League of Legends, the new game has the potential to reach a massive audience. Assuming Cannon and his team is approaching this unannounced project with the same concept — creating a fighting game that can appeal to a wide audience (even those like me who aren’t very good at them) — then this is a perfect fit.

“We have experienced the profound impact this genre can have on players and want to bring the fighting game experience to more people,” Riot said in a statement to IGN. “We’re working hard to create a game truly worthy of the vibrant fighting game community and are making progress, but still have a long way to go before we’re ready to share more details.”

Now for the million-dollar question: is the game going to be set in a completely new universe with brand new characters, or is it going to feature the characters and lore from League of Legends?

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Personally, I think the latter would attract more players, especially if they are looking to reach a wide audience of gamers who aren’t necessarily die-hard fighting game enthusiasts. Having a game with characters that League of Legends fans already know would create a familiar and comfortable environment, making any sort of transition to a new game easier.

Just look at how Teamfight Tactics took off. It was a completely different game with all-new mechanics; but, the familiarity of the characters and moves made it an easy transition. And now I play TFT more than the actual main LoL game.

Plus, from a development standpoint, most of the conceptual work would already be done. You already have the design, the lore, and the abilities to convert to move sets. Just some slight tweaking and balancing and you’re set. Of course, this is coming from someone who hasn’t the slightest idea about what it takes to develop a fighting game, so I’m sure it’s more complicated and time-consuming than that.

The point is, Riot Games is developing a fighting game. We don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to fight as Warwick, Vi or Pantheon in it. Seriously though, with over 144 champions in League of Legends, it’s not like the choices are limited.