As if they were just waiting for me to publish that last post, so they could slap me across their face with a rebuttal, Riot Games just updated their game client to prominently display an interactive comic, heralding the release of the new Ultimate Skin, Spirit Guard Udyr.
The fully voiced comic’s animation is pretty stunning, and its accompanying soundscape provides a degree of immersion to Udyr’s story that’s unprecedented outside of the couple of one-off CGI trailers that Riot has released over the last few years. The invitation presented underneath the title image is wholly accurate; this is not a short comic you’re going to read – it is a comic to be experienced.
Last Summer, League of Legends players were beside themselves with anticipation when the release of the Pulsefire Ezreal Ultimate Skin was delayed for several days (presumably due to the server and client issues the game was experiencing following the 1.61 patch). When the skin finally was released, silencing the incessant quips of “Pulsefire Ezreal where?” that seemed to pop up every two post on every message board even vaguely related to League of Legends, it was promoted with a website that did little more than dress up the standard database entries with a chic palette of blues.
Spirit Guard Udyr comes packing its own website as well, and while there has been a slight delay between the most recent 3.6 patch and this latest Ultimate Skin release, I have to think that this year’s hold up was much more deliberate than the last. By waiting for last weekend’s League Challenger Series promotions to disappear from the front page of the game client, and switching to this artistic introduction (likely for the next couple of days), Riot Games has raised the bar for their attainable storytelling standards.
It’s quite funny that I just finished arguing that lore wasn’t the reason I keep coming back to the game for more. I don’t even play Udyr. But If every character that Riot’s creatives touch lay claim to this caliber of exposition rather than a couple of paragraphs in a wiki, you can bet that I’ll start paying attention to the stories they want to tell.