As you can most probably tell, I spent most of February cooped up indoors playing Legends of Runeterra (and not getting Corona Virus). So, when Riot offered me to preview their card game on mobile in their first-ever regional test, I of course, jumped at the chance to do so.
So, should the need arrive for one to go outside one day (when it is safe to do so), you can continue playing! Woo!
In the press release today stated below, it is also confirmed that we’re the first ever region to be able to play this on mobile. Perhaps this was why our region had a delayed open beta test on PC when compared to the others?
The mobile version of the much-anticipated strategy card game went live on Wednesday, 11 March. Players will be able to access the game and its full features on iOS and Android devices. At the same time, Singapore will gain access to the Legends of Runeterra PC Open Beta that is currently live for other regions. Players will get to play Legends of Runeterra cross-platform, enjoying the same game experience on both PC and mobile.
“We are incredibly excited that Singaporean gamers are the first in the world to experience Legends of Runeterra mobileJustin Hulog, General Manager – Riot Games Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan
Below, I will share my thoughts and initial impressions on Riot’s up and coming game, now on mobile.
As usual, I am testing this game with my own phone, the Redmi Note 3. Given that my phone is about 4 years old now with the then-average Snapdragon 650 processor, except my experience with the game to reflect the current phones on the lower end of the spectrum in 2020.
While I won’t be running any framerate monitors or performance tests in this hands-on, I will give you my anecdotal experience playing the game.
Size and Installation
The initial download is a measly download of around 180mb followed up with an update that (probably) contains the whole game; bringing the total up to an average size of ~800mb. Installation is quick and easy I didn’t find any trouble with downloading the game via the Google Play Store. It works just as well as it should; no complaints from me.
Connecting to a Riot Account
Since Riot is currently handling the distribution themselves, a Riot Games account is required for login and so using particulars for Garena won’t work (there is even a splash screen when logging in to tell you so).
The great news is, for veteran players that kept their accounts in NA and did not transfer their account details to Garena’s servers in Season 2, you’ll still be able to login using those credentials so you won’t have to make another.
Here, Riot does suggest for you create a brand new SEA Riot Account for the game for better support and connectivity but this is not a hard requirement with any region locking in place *cough* Season 2 region IP ban *cough* so you are free to do so if you so choose. Personally, I was able to login to my original NA account just fine albeit with the usual penalty on ping which shouldn’t matter for a turn-based card game.
Options for creating an account via Google account sign-in is also available but at the current time of writing, I’m unsure if you’ll be able to use this account on the PC version of the game.
Gameplay & Interface Accessibility
Is the interface the same compared to PC? Of course it is. Riot assuredly designed the interface elements as “mobile-first” so no elements are compromised on mobile. There are some exceptions here and there when it makes sense to do so but overall, the presentation is almost a carbon copy of the current PC game client.
Some elements, such as viewing your deck list while picking in expeditions mode, now exists in a separate screen to better make use of the smaller real estate on mobile.
For the most part, everything functions the way it should; though, the deck import function doesn’t seem to work on mobile currently and clicking on the button only results in an error. I’m sure they’ll fix this soon.
Moving on to the in-battle gameplay and interface, those who have played Hearthstone would feel right at home with this familiar mobile interface. The cards, like Hearthstone, are now contained to the right side for easier access with your thumb and tapping the screen once will extend the cards to the middle for a better view.
Due to the game’s 10-card limit, having 10 cards taking up the right side of the screen is a definitely possibility. Card visibility gets quite poor at this point with only the mana cost of the card clearly visible; still, I was able to pick out the cards in this view with reasonable accuracy (maybe 80% of the time) so long as I know what card it is which is excellent in my book.
Overall, using skills, spells and play effects all work smoothly and intuitively without any hassle within a few taps. Riot has also retained the “drag to attack all” functionality from the PC client and it works beautifully here as well; just drag and push all your cards into the board and remember to have a deny for judgement!
One minor gripe I would suggest for Riot to improve is to also make a “mirrored mode” interface with the cards to the left side of the screen to improve accessibility for left-handed people.
On the menu front, everything looks smooth and works like it should. That said, I found that selecting anything from the “Play” menu can cause a bit of a freeze when the game tries to query for your deck collection in the database. I would like to note here that the pause is a bit longer if you aren’t playing on the Asia/Japan server but that is to be expected.
The only nitpick I can find here with the menu controls is with regards to deck creation where the current controls can be a bit unintuitive.
Currently, picking cards from your collection to your deck requires a press and swipe gesture towards the left side of the screen and vice versa, sounds as it should be right? The problem comes with the fact that the gesture has to be in the direction of the deck or collection; Imagine trying to select the far-left column of the collection with your right thumb, users would be uncomfortably pushing even further left for the gesture to register.
If the intent of the user is only to add or remove cards from that particular menu, I don’t see why the gesture in this particular screen shouldn’t be omni-directional for better accessibility, going both ways for either adding or removing cards.
Main game & Post Battle Results
On a lower-end phone like this, performance in-battle can get iffy. The game takes about 600Mb of memory to run and can chug when resolving certain spells or level-up animations. Turning down the quality to medium helped a bunch in resolving some of these issues though resolving chained fast spells still can cause some performance drops.
I also found the animation on gaining experience post-battle to be unresponsive though this is less of a concern.
As a whole, I found the general performance to be acceptable. I can safely assume that Riot will further optimize the game for phones of the lower end of the spectrum for greater accessibility.
In development terms, the app is definitely in a “stable release” state. I didn’t experience any major bugs or crashes with the program and most things are as it should. It’s the same package that you’ve been playing on PC, now on mobile.
Would I give this game a shot coming from Hearthstone mobile? Definitely. For better or worse, this game has many mechanics influenced by other popular card games and it shows. If you’re tired of how Hearthstone handles blockers, divine shield and the miracle mechanic, perhaps give Riot’s take a try.
Let us know of your opinions in the comments below!