My husband and I have been playing League of Legends: Wild Rift together, hanging out and chatting as we play on our phones. We talk about whether Jax is better in the top lane or the jungle, and the lore of specific champions. He’s into the game, and wants to share his triumphs and despair with me. This is unusual, because I’ve been chasing this exact dynamic for a decade.
I’ve tried to coax him into watching esports tournaments or lore cinematics, and he’d always react with the same distasteful expression, like a dog confronted with a lime peel. No, thank you, none of that. I’m the big League fan of the household. Writing about the game for a variety of outlets used to be my primary source of income, and I’ve even contributed to a documentary about the origins of the competitive scene. None of this was enough to ensnare Aaron, my husband.
League of Legends on PC was a point of contention, because I knew too much, and he knew too little. We had mismatched expectations. He’d pick a champion like Twisted Fate and play him a specific way — but also the wrong way. I tried to explain it to him, we’d argue, and the game would go back on the shelf.
Wild Rift has been hugely satisfying, because it is much more forgiving — the typical setup of two players sharing a route, two solo players, and a jungler is still ideal, but it’s not mandatory. There’s a sprinkle of spice in there, with certain champions being able to flex in unexpected ways. The “right” way to play is a little more subjective.
The game’s tutorial is also pretty good at explaining what the ideal composition is and why. League of Legends on PC can sometimes rely on social pressure to herd players into the right roles. Why should someone support? Well, when four people are yelling at you in a lobby that you need to support or you’re ruining the game, you’re probably going to either concede or give up and leave.
On some level, it has to help that everyone is on their phones, and it’s much harder to angrily type out a rant toward your teammate with only your thumbs. But Wild Rift is actually pretty good at walking people like Aaron through the paces of how the game works and why, and now the two of us happily strategize together. We speak the same language now, and League has become something that brings us together, instead of sowing the seeds of petty fights.
It’s nice to be able to share a long-held passion with a loved one. I’ve returned to the desktop version of League of Legends since Wild Rift’s launch, but I don’t feel much need to stick around. I’ve had the solo experience of trying to climb the ranked ladder and working tirelessly on improving my mechanics. Now, I’m playing League as a social game, and the difference is delightful.