Last year Riot Games gifted us with an announcement that they were working on a fighting game known only as “Project L“. While we received a few gameplay clips and very rough footage of their development, we were left in the dark for a year about any information regarding the project. However, we recently received a new trailer called “The Right Foundation”, which is a vertical slice that acts as a proof of concept to what they’ve been working on.
The first thing I noticed about Project L was improved visuals; though I would’ve liked something more…solid. It felt very mobile-game like, but that’s that’s only because the characters feel very “light” without much weight to them. Reminds me more-or-less of what you’d get if Arc System Works created a game with visuals similar to Borderlands. I think this is because the shading is very soft. Darius has more dynamic and darker shadows, which helps him stand out a bi tmore than someone like Ekko or Jynx. Though, I do admit that their effects fit well, which makes things blend together better than it does in the upcoming The King of Fighters XV. I think the biggest issue I am currently having with the investment into this game’s aesthetic is the sound design.
The hits feel in Project L also feel very light, which adds to the very floaty-like presentation of the game. Even the axe-wielding Darius seems like he doesn’t have much “impact” on his moves. At around the 2:25 mark when they start showcasing advanced techniques you can do with him, his charged up attacks which causes things like increased hit-stun and wall bounces doesn’t feel significant despite the visual look. I think they should go with much beefier sounding hits to add to that effect, such as they do in Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Under Night In-Birth.
As far as the 2v2 theme and combat, I think that’s going to be pretty good. Despite the bad reputation it got, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite showed the possibilities and depth that a 2v2 tag fighter can possess with modern touches to the mechanics and combo system. Being able to tag in and out mid-combo as seen at 1:16, using assists, and other such things like wall or ground bounces ensure a free-flowing pace with plenty of customization. However, we still have no idea how much damage a character will do or even if both characters need to die or only 1 (such as Street Fighter X TEKKEN).
The biggest reveal is the online portion of Project L. Considering that online is a massive part of the world since the pandemic has forced social distancing, having a network infrastructure that resembles offline play as closely as possible is ideal. Hell, even Evolution Fighting Game Championships embraced games that had better online because of that. Rollback is a good start, but Riot is internal playtesting their netcode constantly and is utilizing their own server technology to further enhance it…this means we are definitely going to be seeing some eSports out of it.
While I wish we would have seen more characters, an introduction to more characters than just Ekko, it was fine to showcase that the game is still in development and they are actively working to make it the best game that they can. I am also happy we got to see that it’s going to be a tag game, networking will be topnotch, and that we will be getting more frequent updates as opposed to once a year. I think I’m not alone in saying that Project L cannot come soon enough!