Released in late 2021, Arcane is a Netflix original series that grew in popularity to become one of the most critically acclaimed animations of all-time. Produced by Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends, the story is set in the utopian region of Piltover and the underground of Zaun. The creation of Hextech, a technology that grants anyone a way to control magic, threatens the fragile balance between both districts. The nine episodes follow the origins of two iconic League champions: Jinx and Vi.
With the recurring phenomenon where most film adaptations from video games tend to be distasteful, many expected Arcane to be a failure. Surprisingly, the animated series took the gaming community by storm and has been considered an absolute masterpiece by critics. With an overwhelming amount of praise for a series influenced by one of the most infamous and toxic games known to mankind, many flocked to watch it and try out League of Legends, including myself.
Previous Knowledge and Reputation of League of Legends
Historically, when someone mentioned League of Legends, the typical response was a negative one. With thousands of videos and memes that talked about why streamers quit playing the game or how it would ruin your life, League of Legends had become the joke of the gaming world.
The MOBA was a common enemy to both League players and nonplayers alike: it was the one game that they could both talk badly about. League players would play the game despite hating it, while nonplayers would hate the game without ever having played it. This was due to many reasons that players have compiled over the years: the toxicity of the fanbase, terrible matchmaking, consistent losses despite your best efforts, and more. This caused a lot of frustration to be directed towards League of Legends, tanking the game’s reputation to be at the bottom of the barrel.
With all this slander, I was convinced that I would never become a League of Legends player. I vowed that I didn’t want to be associated with the stigma that tends to come along with being one.
This all changed when Arcane came out.
Why Arcane is Appealing to New and Long-Time Fans
Riot’s Arcane is an animated series like no other as it draws in both new and long-time fans.
Not only is the animation incredible, but new fans aren’t required to know anything about the game to enjoy the content that it offers. Without needing to be exposed to the champion’s lore or in-game abilities, Arcane creates a scene that sets up and introduces these characters in a way that makes the audience care enough to keep watching.
The show is equally interesting to long-time fans, who are finally getting the adaptation they’ve been asking for since the release of League of Legends cinematics.
“It’s been long-awaited. Being able to see the champions you play in-game, personified in much more depth in the show, really connects you to the characters and makes you want to play them more,” said long-time player Ethan Lipham. “I remember the show making me play full lethality Vi in the middle lane, because to me, it felt like I was playing the Vi from Arcane. That’s what makes me so excited and hopeful for the League MMO, just being able to experience and connect with the champions in a different way.”
Seeing their favorite champions come to life, many players felt that Arcane enhanced the gameplay to the next level. The story of Jinx and Vi has been particularly captivating, given how little was known about their relationship. The mystery surrounding the two sisters generated an instant hook.
Naturally, with the never-ending positive reviews and hype, I had to check out Arcane for myself.
Experience of Watching Arcane
While I was reluctant to start the first episode, I immediately understood why Arcane was so unanimously beloved once I began — it captivates audiences with its beautiful visuals, world-building, music, pacing, and narrative.
The more I watched, the more I felt invested in the characters’ lives and struggles. Runeterra, the city of progress, felt almost real to me. I was no longer watching a show that was inspired by an infamous game. Rather, I was transported into the League of Legends universe, nervous about what’s to come with the brewing war between Piltover and Zaun. Although I won’t give too much away about its story, one thing was for sure — it became a strong addiction that left me craving more content.
With no more episodes left in the season, I resorted to downloading League of Legends. Not only had my opinion of League drastically changed, I truly wanted to try out the game. So, I decided to go in with a fresh mindset, no prejudice, and immediately hopped into the tutorial.
First Time Playing League of Legends
The tutorial was relatively easy to understand. After crushing the enemy bots and getting used to my starter champion, I was confident in my skills as a beginner.
The real challenge started when I queued into a Blind Pick PVP game on Summoner’s Rift. The game mode description itself seemed quite alluring: “Crush your lane, dive into epic five-on-five team fights, and destroy the enemy nexus in League’s premier competitive mode.”
Inspired by Arcane, I picked Jinx as my champion to start my exciting new journey into Summoner’s Rift. If you’ve played League of Legends before, I’m sure that you can predict how my first game went.
The gameplay felt extremely challenging compared to the tutorial. Frankly, I was overwhelmed by the number of champions, abilities, items, runes, and builds I had to learn. Having played first-person shooter games all my life, League of Legends was a different genre that I felt was confusing, hard to get into, and not beginner-friendly. There are 159 unique champions in the game, and knowing your opponent's moves are crucial in order to anticipate and dodge enemy attacks.
On top of that, some of the items you buy for your champion are situational. Specifically, your core items are ones that are always bought by your champion. Now, depending on how the game is being played and the role you’re playing, you may have to opt for certain item choices to help you survive and pave your way to victory.
With everything that was being thrown at me, the toxic community just added salt to the wound.
As I attempted to figure out what Jinx’s in-game abilities were, my teammates would trash talk my playstyle. If I would miss my attacks or fail to kill the enemy champion when they were low on health, they would encourage me to stop playing ever again. As a beginner, I felt that I didn’t want to continue playing. I was being bombarded with such negative aspects of the game.
Having been warned about the toxic community beforehand, I wasn’t too surprised with my experience. Rather, I was mostly shocked by how much I needed to know about the game in order to do well in my matches. The tutorial essentially felt useless as there was too much important information that was left unexplained.
Thankfully, I found some guides online that helped me understand the details and components of the game. Although I didn’t find out until much later, there’s also the ability to mute the chat to prevent further verbal abuse from teammates and opponents alike.
As I began to play more often and get better at the game, it turned out that I wasn’t the only one that was inspired to try out League of Legends after watching Arcane.
Surge of New Players All Over the World
It’s no secret that League of Legends, as a game, was on the decline. Most of the focus was on pro play and there were rarely any new players; all the individuals under level 30 were typically smurfs or bots.
After Arcane’s release, there was a surge of new and old players alike. New fans wanted to try out League of Legends to see more of their favorite champions while old gamers felt motivated to come back. It’s clear that I wasn’t the only one persuaded to try out the MOBA. In fact, after a week of Arcane episodes, the play rate for Jayce, Vi, and Jinx jumped up.
Previous League of Legends Head Coach, Tony Gray, tweeted how Jayce’s pick rate went from 3.8% to 13.7%, Vi’s from 4.2% to 10.8%, and Jinx’s from 11.2% to 16.2%. Although this may not seem like a massive increase, Arcane’s influence on pick rates was undeniable. Other champions, such as Ekko and Caitlyn, also saw a surge in popularity.
Aci, a streamer and YouTuber who makes video essays, tutorials, news, and stream highlights on popular games, also tried League of Legends after watching Arcane. He picked Caitlyn and Jinx for his first few times playing in the Rift.
As documented in the video above, Aci is shown struggling to get a full grasp of the game mechanics. It’s safe to say that it’s been a common experience among beginners. Aci gave me a more in-depth perspective of his experience.
“The game had lots of content and mechanics I didn't understand, and I didn't really have anyone to explain them to me. Watching videos on it also didn't help much, so I ended up not having a lot of fun when playing the game, which was usually just me mashing buttons and buying random items.”
When I asked if League of Legends was a difficult game for him to get into, Aci replied “I would definitely say so. There are so many mechanics and tactics that are not explained in the tutorial, things like the item shop, world bosses, which characters are best for what, etc., which makes it really hard to,” he said. “I still play, but not frequently. Since I still don't know a lot of parts of the game, I only play with friends and not on my own.”
Upon asking if he would recommend League of Legends for Arcane fans, Aci answered, “Not specifically for liking Arcane, since I don't think the two are too similar. If they enjoy the type of game, however, I would, since it's one of the biggest and most actively updated ones out there.”
Aci followed that up by saying, “Since I already played it back in 2016 I knew what the game was about, but I think if I hadn't known that I would have been a little disappointed since Arcane was all about story and world building, which doesn't matter at ALL in League.”
Though many were motivated to try out League of Legends after watching Arcane, everyone’s first-time experience is different. The consensus is that League is a difficult game to get into.
Why I Continue to Play and Final Thoughts
After having experienced both the good and the bad sides of League of Legends, I still continue to play. Just like Aci, I mostly queue up with friends. However, I’ll openly admit it – I’m addicted to everything that League has to offer. From its incredibly creative lore, animations, and the small amount of serotonin I get from pentakills, it's hard to escape.
The special game modes and events inevitably pull me back in. If I’m too frustrated to continue on with Summoner’s Rift, I’ll jump into ARAM (All Random All Mid) or URF (Ultra Rapid Fire). More specifically, ARAM is a permanent game mode, but URF only comes back twice a year.
These are all fun modes that adjust the game by having more team fights or lessening the timer on abilities. There, the community is much less toxic and doesn’t take the game as seriously. Whenever someone messes up and apologizes for doing so, most just shrug it off and move on. Since many go to these game modes to take a break from Summoner’s Rift, it’s a more inviting community. There’s less at stake and more jokes being made, making League of Legends enjoyable. Although many are only fans of the 5v5 blind or draft pick in Summoner’s Rift, I’m more fond of these modes because I don’t have to commit to long game times just to lose in a tilting way. Or, if there’s an event going on, I have more motive to continue playing, earning some sweet rewards.
As Riot continues to put out patch updates to improve the game, I hope they consider the complaints that many voice. Whether or not they take on new measures to lessen the toxicity or plan to come up with a better tutorial, League of Legends is a phenomenon that is not disappearing anytime soon.
Ultimately, I’m glad that Arcane got me to play League of Legends. Trying out the game has completely changed my negative perspective into a positive one, despite the steep learning curve. As Arcane Season 2 has already been confirmed, the future of League of Legends is looking bright.