Do you remember the good ol’ days of League of Legends seasonal rifts? I’ll let you in on a secret – sadly, I personally, do not. As a comparatively new LoL player, I missed out on the MOBA’s Winter Rift and the Harrowing Rift, and every year I cross my fingers and pray to Santa Claus that they’ll make a triumphant return.
And trust me when I say I’m not the only one. As soon as the spooky or snowy season rolls around, players are quick to voice their discontent over the lack of themed Rift. This year, for example, a Reddit post lamenting the lack of Harrowing Rift popped up just in time for Halloween, with swathes of comments begging Riot to give these temporary Rift skins a new lease on life.
Alas, while we’ve got some new Halloween and winter-themed skins this year that have broken away from the traditional Bewitching and Winter Wonderland lines, it still looks like we won’t be seeing Summoner’s Rift bathed in ice and snow. As eyes turn to next year, here’s why we need some seasonal Rifts in LoL.
League of Legends events suck
Yes, I said it. Sue me. At the moment, League of Legends events normally consist of a battle pass with unlockable goodies (as well as a prestige skin), and a new line of accompanying cosmetics. Sure, the different quest descriptions and icons inject some unique flair into things, but does anyone actually care about those? Or do you just click through them to collect the XP, chest, or whatever other reward is on offer? Guilty, as charged.
Even the Spirit Blossom and Star Guardian format is getting a little old – especially given the issues with the latter earlier this year. While novel at first, Riot seems unwilling to break away when it finds something that works, in turn making something as special as Spirit Blossom feel slightly mundane in hindsight.
By contrast, a lot of other games just do more. Overwatch, for example, decks out the likes of King’s Row in boughs of holly, and World of Warcraft transforms Orgrimmar and Stormwind into snowy festive paradises. While League isn’t an FPS game or an MMORPG, Riot has been able to add some Christmas spirit to the Rift before, and have chosen not to do so again. It’s like taking candy from a baby, then leaving that candy on the side of the cradle just out of reach.
Overwatch and WoW’s events don’t change every year. The skins do, sure, but the events remain largely the same. Add a new mode here and there, maybe a new cosmetic item, but otherwise you pretty much know what to expect – that’s the beauty of it. It’s that LTM that comes around every year, injects some fun into the game, and leaves. It’s not a whole new ranked mode, and Riot treating it like it needs to be perfect and expansive is where it’s stumbling.
A 2020 blog post proves this. When asked if it would ever bring back winter on the Rift, Riot wrote “instead of doing a handful of these smaller map reskins every year, we’ve instead been focusing our efforts on creating more immersive environments that players get to experience for a longer period of time. So… will we ever bring back snow back to the Rift? The answer is maybe, but we don’t have any plans to at the moment.”
The beauty of the classic seasonal Rifts was their simplicity. Shove a red hat on the Baron and people will love it (I, for one, even get excited when he gets a helmet for Worlds). It’s the little things that make players smile – not every event needs to be a grand occasion. A simple frosty rework will do. It’s just about adding some lightheartedness to the game.
The second factor that appears to influence the lack of Christmas Rift is the introduction of the Elemental Rift system. “Before y’all ask, ‘Why can’t you reuse the Winter map you already made?,’ we’d like to remind you that the Rift literally catches on fire. (And grows flowers. And rocks. And… wind?),” product lead Jared ‘Karadwe’ Neuss writes.
“But in all seriousness, we’d need to make snowy versions of all four [now six] Elemental Rifts as well as snowy alcove areas. It’s not a technical challenge but would take some time to make the art for, and it’s not something we’re planning on this year .”
Given we’re two years down the line and the system has been in place for a good amount of time, Riot has had plenty of time to develop something new and innovative. It doesn’t need to be especially fancy, but there are a lot of fun things you could do with it if you truly wanted to create something as “immersive” as Riot strives for. The Cloud Rift could kick up snow to create blizzards, the Ocean Rift could turn the river into ice – there’s loads of fun mechanics that could be introduced to make the system interactive. But equally, I genuinely believe a quick reskin would probably work in the meantime.
After all, it’s Christmas! It’s not that serious. At the moment LoL events simply feel like they lack a bit of soul. While this year’s Fright Night and Winterblessed skins have added some excitement back into the game’s seasonal content, at the end of the day they are still just skins. I want something more.
As someone who has never experienced the seasonal rifts in all of their glory, I feel like I’ve missed out on a genuinely exciting LoL experience. I thought Spirit Blossom was special, but given just how strongly the community feels about these fun-filled festive forays I’d love to take them for a spin – I’m sure loads of other new players do, too.
Perhaps Riot will hear us and implement them for next year, but unfortunately 2022 will end with yet another bout of disappointment – but I guess there’s Winterblessed Diana’s pentakill animation.