Over the past week, I have been privileged to be able to test out Riot Games’ latest Closed Beta: Wild Rift; and boy, what an impression it made.
TL;DR: Wild Rift is a visually stunning and seamless experience. However, it definitely has some hard decisions to make in order to improve the user experience. While Wild Rift started from a point where it tries to emulate the Summoners’ Rift (SR) experience, users should expect the game to start deviating from it’s PC counterpart as the game continues to find its footing.
Graphics – 9/10 (20% of Overall)
If there’s one thing I will not complain about, it’s the graphics. Wild Rift brings the characters of Runeterra alive more than anything the PC version could. With models meticulously detailed and animated, you can almost feel the blood, sweat and tears poured into the project. I mean, I’ve never seen Yasuo this ripped in my life.
If there’s one thing that’s keeping the score from being a perfect 10 though, it’s that the graphical intensity sometimes does cause phones to stutter, lag or simply overheat.
Audio – 8/10 (20% of Overall)
When it comes to audio from Riot, you can’t go wrong. I believe many have asked if Riot Games was actually a Music Company instead of a Game Company. In terms of voice lines, it is apparent that they also took some time to record some new voice lines to inject life into the champions you play.
Unfortunately, while the audio is good, I will have to take 2 points off the audio since it has to be of lower quality and looped to take less resources. Also, no audio track seemed to stand out while I was in game, exploring and queueing.
User Experience / Controls – 5/10 (50% of Overall)
Now comes the harsh part. Wild Rift’s controls are given a passing grade at best.
In their endeavor to emulate the SR experience, they only served to make things much more complicated. This means more buttons, less screen.
Disregarding Pings, targeting priorities or even camera controls, there are already at least 9 buttons on the screen for you to press. Toss in an extra active item, the + button to level up your skills and you’ll get an extra 5 more buttons where you will struggle to tap in the heat of battle.
Unless Wild Rift turns into a turn-based MOBA, being able to micro-manage all the skills, controls, wards, target-locking and camera to finally land that oh-so-juicy ultimate onto the enemy team is nigh-impossible for the average man with only two thumbs.
A huge plus though, is that Riot Games have definitely thought things through with the Target-lock and semi-camera lock systems implemented. These help players target things properly instead of pushing the attack button and hoping our Champion is smart enough to hit what we wanted them to.
Something has to give though in order to improve the user experience in the game. Will it be less skills? Remove Trinkets and Active Items? Wild Rift developers have some tough choices to make ahead of them and I most certainly do not envy their position.
Monetization – 9/10 (10% of Overall)
I’m pleased to report that skins do not give extra advantages to the game. (Other than bragging rights, admiring new graphics and matching skin outfits with your friends)
It might take a while to unlock Champions while doing Free-To-Play. But that is the nature of F2P games. After all, Riot Games did spend much time and effort making the game and creating those skins. If you have some spare dosh, you should reward their effort by purchasing some cosmetics/champions.
In fact, if you buy during the closed beta, they will award you with 20% more currency! Now that’s a deal!
Overall – 6.8/10
If 2020’s top games have proven one thing, it’s that user experience and gameplay are of topmost priority. Wild Rift most certainly has much to improve upon if they want to keep their player base or convince another player base to shift over to theirs. But for now, they only receive a passing grade.