Arcane isn’t just one of the best new animated shows on Netflix — it’s also a great introduction to the vast and often inscrutable world of League of Legends. If you’ve finished the show and have found yourself intrigued by the fantasy realm of Runeterra, you might be wondering where to go next. There are a few options, but thankfully developer Riot has just released a new role-playing game that’s a perfect next step for budding fans.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is available now on the Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and it’s a bite-sized RPG that lets you explore a different part of League mythology. It stars a handful of iconic characters — including the hulking Braum and the kraken-wielding priestess Illaoi — and lets you wander through the port city of Bilgewater as you investigate a mysterious phenomenon known as the Black Myst, which eventually leads you to the unsettling Shadow Isles.
Part of what makes Ruined King such a great follow to Arcane is that — unlike the multiplayer-focused League of Legends — it’s completely story-driven. While many of League’s characters and locations have long, detailed backstories, you don’t get much of that from the main game. It’s more like background, something you can dig into if you want, but it’s not really a necessary component of the game.
But here, story is the whole point. It’s a chance to really spend some time with these characters and get to know them. There’s lots of fun banter (it’s even fully voiced) and gorgeous comic book-style cutscenes that set up important moments. The game also provides also a great chance to linger in the world; I loved wandering around the bustling districts of Bilgewater, rendered with a Diablo-style isometric look, going from seedy back alleys to opulent mansions. The places feel alive and full of detail. You can even go fishing. The main League of Legends game tells you these are important places and heroes, but in Ruined King, you find out why.
Ruined King also happens to be a solid RPG. Most notably, it has a clever turn-based battle system involving lanes, which essentially means you can decide whether attacks should be quick or strong, with obvious pros and cons for each. There are also environmental hazards and bonuses that impact you depending on how you time those actions. It adds a nice layer of strategy to even standard battles, especially once you get a chance to explore all of the different characters, each of whom has very different abilities. Illaoi, with her ability to summon ghostly tentacles that serve as writhing minions, is my favorite. It’s all fairly straightforward stuff if you’ve played a lot of RPGs, but it’s polished and has just enough of a twist to feel fresh.
Ever since League of Legends turned 10, Riot has been steadily expanding its fictional universe in different ways. There’s a digital card game, a rhythm game, an upcoming MMO and fighting game, comic books, even an in-universe board game. So far, Arcane and Ruined King are the best examples of how this strategy can work. While the core League of Legends can be as demanding as it is engrossing, these latest efforts are much more palatable. They also do a better job at showing what makes Runeterra such an interesting fantasy universe in the first place. Unfortunately, the success of these does come with a side effect: I can’t stop reading up on LoL lore.