Despite being one of the most popular video games on the planet, League of Legends has for most players never been big on story. There's always been an explanation for the game's setting, but little more. Well, that's about to change.
Developers Riot have made the decision to scrap almost all of the game's story — which has actually been a few years in the making — and start over.
"The background we'd created to explain in-game action was ultimately restricting the potential narrative development of the game's defining characters", write the company in a blog post explaining the decision."
"At a very broad level", they later add, "we've decided to push League's story beyond its original focus on explaining in-game action and forge a new narrative path for Runeterra — a world in which the factions and champions we all know and love have full freedom to grow, travel, and kick arse on a worldwide scale. From champion interactions to bios to events (and beyond), we aim to expand the scope of League's story and pursue a more dynamic and wide-ranging world fit for the outsized capabilities and personalities of our champions."
So what happens to the stuff getting pushed aside? It's literally being consigned to the dustbin of history.
"Does this mean older story efforts like the Journal of Justice and League Judgments are meaningless? Of course not. In the same way that we can go back and enjoy old books, shows, films, art, and comics that have been superseded by more recent interpretations of the same material, League's original lore remains a cherished part of its history. From comic books to classic literature, exploration of the same creative space in vastly different ways is a natural part of storytelling."
Explaining the changes in a little more detail in the comments of the post, Riot's writing team say "Also, to be clear, we don't want people to think we're doing away with everything that's ever been posted in the Journals, Judgments, or other places. That stuff will always exist to be enjoyed, as it should — a lot of players love it. It's about modifying things that get in the way of our telling bigger, better stories. It's kind of like with comic books: Wolverine in a '60s X-Men comic looks a lot different from Hugh Jackman in the DoFP movie, but he's still recognisably the same character. Superman's origin story has been retold numerous times and ways in many different media; some of the interpretations I've loved, others I haven't so much, but it's always fascinating to see those new perspectives on familiar tales. New doesn't invalidate old, it just broadens the world of stories told about Runeterra."
While this will - and indeed already has - upset those who did cling to the game's threadbare canon, it's a move Riot were always going to have to make. As League grows in popularity, so too do its chances of becoming something larger, something that can translate more easily into things like TV series and movies.
The game's old canon couldn't really have supported that. Something with a bit more depth and work put into it can.
DEV BLOG: EXPLORING RUNETERRA [League of Legends]