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Love Arcane? Here’s how to get into League of Legends lore

There’s a whole lot of story hidden behind these games

Vi from Arcane looking at the camera in a still from the Netflix show Image: Netflix

Netflix’s Arcane is a wildly stylish series, and every character is bursting with detail. While the setting of Zaun and Piltover is dense with characters and conflict, it’s just a vertical slice of the larger League of Legends lore. If you’ve finished Arcane, you might be hungry for more deep lore from the world of Runeterra. There’s nothing else quite like Arcane out there, but there is a huge wealth of League content that’s tough to sift through. If you’re looking for more, especially while waiting for the next season, here are some recommendations on how to start getting into the rest of the world.

Check out the regions

The official Universe page collects all of Riot’s written lore, but it’s overwhelming to take in, all at once. The official Arcane promotional page includes a visual novel that is meant to be an entry into the world of Runeterra — quite literally, the player character is someone who was browsing the Internet before getting pulled into a fantasy world — but that’s not exactly canon.

Jinx in a still from season 1 of Arcane Image: Netflix

It’s easier to parse when you dig into specific corners of the universe. There are a ton of regions, endless champions and supporting cast characters on the Universe page to explore. For instance, there’s Piltover and Zaun, which you’re familiar with from Arcane, but you can look into the existence of unfamiliar characters like Camille. Reading these extra short stories and comics is a great way to learn more about the world, and there are links throughout. For instance, there’s a Caitlyn story where she hunts down a Noxus infiltrator. You get a little extra Caitlyn lore, but you also learn more about Noxus. From there, you might start reading about a champion like Swain or LeBlanc, both of which have links to other Champions and plot threads. Before long, you can find yourself down a rabbit hole of fantasy fiction, much of which is surprisingly good.

Not sure where to start? Dana Luery Shaw’s Rise With Me is a short love story between two acolytes of an ancient religion on the slopes of Mount Targon. Voices, by Jared Rosen, is a horror story about an ancient demon and some very unprepared villagers. Finally, The Eye in the Abyss by Anthony Reynolds is a longer piece that’s a mix between an epic adventure and a cosmic horror nightmare.

Consult the experts

Even with the Universe collecting all of the lore in one place, it’s still a lot to sift through. Here’s where content creators in the community really pull through. An example is Necrit, who serves as the universe’s unofficial archivist, historian, and analyst. He creates big picture videos that give sweeping overviews of the lore, so that you can learn everything without having to track down each individual piece of story across many formats and platforms. For instance, if you enjoyed any of the stories above, you can punch the character names in and search Necrit’s channel, and he’ll be happy to explain everything you need to know about them in depth.

Necrit also does more tightly focused videos, like ones exploring every Easter egg he could uncover in Arcane, or a review of a new short story and speculation as to what it could mean. While uncovering fiction from the source is always best, sometimes you need a guide to the good stuff. Necrit does a fantastic job of providing this service, as well as explaining deep lore secrets and speculating as to what that might mean long-term.

There are other League YouTubers who are worth a watch, but not many can offer as comprehensive a library of info and explanations as Necrit. If you’re totally lost, there are few better places to start.

Explore the other Riot games

It’s very difficult for me to encourage someone to play League of Legends in 2021. It’s not a bad game, but it holds very little resemblance to Arcane, and it’s very difficult to pick up fresh. However, Riot has been rounding out its games catalogue with better options. For instance, Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is a very good RPG that focuses on the regions of Bilgewater and the Shadow Isles. It’s a great way to meet a handful of champions like Miss Fortune, Pyke, Ahri, or Yasuo.

Legends of Runeterra is another good choice. The game’s new Path of Champions mode includes short comics starring the Arcane cast in a more current-day version of Piltover and Zaun, and even though it’s not technically canon, these comics are super cute. It’s also a helpful way to see new sides of champions.

Nami, a mermaid on a quest to save her people, is an example of this. In League, she’s fine, but a little flat. In Legends of Runeterra, we get to see that she’s in a polyamorous relationship with two of her companions, which drives her forward on her mission. The art and voice work in Legends of Runeterra is gorgeous, and even if you don’t play the game, it’s worth looking through the art gallery for a new perspective on old characters.

Finally, Wild Rift is a mobile port of League of Legends that’s much more forgiving. It’s still a competitive MOBA, so it might still be too high a barrier of entry for some, but it smooths away many of the rough parts of League in the pursuit of an easier starting experience. If Arcane has ignited your interest, there’s a whole canon of League lore just waiting for you. The only challenge is figuring out where to start.

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