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Legends of Runeterra’s new single-player mode is fan service at its best

The game’s gorgeous lore and art gets a chance to shine

Legends of Runeterra - Jinx, a skinny woman with long blue braids and an assortment of guns, prances happily as a giant explosion blooms behind her. Image: Riot Games
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Legends of Runeterra is a gorgeous look into the world of League of Legends, with lots of world-building at every turn. The champions come with their own supporting casts, extended art scenes, and special mechanics. But at the end of the day, it’s still a competitive card game — the lore and art is a supporting feature to the core gameplay. The game’s new single-player mode changes this though; the Path of Champions is a narrative campaign.

The Path of Champions has the player choose one of a few starting characters from League of Legends lore. While features like the Lab of Legends offered players the ability to go through a single-player roguelike mode, the Path is much more focused on individual stories. None of these are canon; they’re more like fun ‘what if?’ narratives that let the protagonist run wild.

The starting pool of champions includes many familiar faces from the region of Piltover and Zaun, and they’ll each have narrative comics related to their campaigns. Champions from other regions won’t have these comics; they’re a little bonus to run alongside the narratives on Netflix’s Arcane. With Jinx’s campaign, we get to see her confrontations with characters like Caitlyn as she works her away out of Zaun and through Piltover. Every victory earns the protagonist — in this case, Jinx — some more experience points, cards for her deck, and special abilities. Since there’s no balance to worry about (these upgrades don’t carry over into the game’s PvP modes) the developer can go wild with buffing up the game’s champions.

Each victory makes the hero a little bit stronger, and occasionally the player gets to make choices. “Hmm, do I ransom off Sheriff Caitlyn for some spending money... or do I throw her into prison?” It’s great to be able to build up a character’s arsenal, recruit more friends, and watch them evolve into an overpowered, beastly version of their usual selves.

This is something that makes Legends of Runeterra all the more appealing. Riot has already sunk resources into the game’s card art, lore, and cast. There are plenty of League of Legends players who have been following the card game to learn more about the world, and now Legends of Runeterra can better accommodate that narrative thirst. It’ll be interesting to see how the Path of Champions develops in response to fan feedback. The Path of Champions will be part of Legends of Runeterra’s Patch 2.19, which will be released on Nov. 10, along with new champion Jayce.