Introducing Arena Mode
League of Legends’ 5v5 MOBA mode is renowned for its iconic multiplayer action, attracting millions of players and massive prize pools for tournaments. However, Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, are always looking to innovate and experiment. Their latest creation is the 2v2v2v2 Arena mode, set to debut during this summer’s Soul Fighter event.
A Twist on the Classic Formula
Arena mode takes inspiration from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Gunfight mode, offering intense matches in smaller arenas. As someone who appreciates League of Legends’ world and lore, but doesn’t have the time to invest in the competitive 5v5 esport aspect, I was immediately intrigued by Riot Games’ new addition.
How Arena Works
Arena matches consist of four teams, each composed of two players. Teams have the opportunity to blind ban certain Champions, although players from different teams can still choose the same Champion. Before combat begins, there’s a Shop Phase akin to games like Teamfight Tactics or Valorant. During this phase, players have 45 seconds to purchase Augments to enhance their Champions and Juices for round-specific boosts. Once the Shop Phase ends, the Combat Phase commences.
Two teams are teleported to a randomly selected arena and engage in battle until a winner emerges. Players can also attack “Power Flowers” to gain boosts such as health, shields, and reduced cooldowns, while keeping an eye on the encroaching ring of fire closing in on the map edges. Each team begins with 20 health, losing two to eight points for each lost Combat Phase. The matches follow a round-robin format, with teams rotating opponents, making purchases during the Shop Phase, and engaging in Combat Phases until only one team stands.
Intensity and Freshness
As matches progress, the inclusion of Augments, Juices, and Champion Cameos such as Evelynn and Naafiri amplifies the intensity. Remarkably, all of this is packed into 10 to 15-minute matches, making Arena mode a less time-consuming alternative to traditional League of Legends battles that can span almost an hour.
Design Challenges and Adaptations
Creating a new mode for a popular game like League of Legends presents unique challenges, especially when it comes to Champions who weren’t initially designed for a 2v2 mode. According to Design Lead Daniel Emmons, ensuring ranged characters remain viable in arenas while tweaking mechanics was a significant hurdle. The team had to introduce measures like the Deep Water mechanic, allowing players to aim spells or auto-attacks by creating spaces where visibility is limited.
Champions with stacking mechanics will passively gain stacks over the course of an Arena match. Environmental effects such as Cameos, Power Flowers, and the encroaching ring of fire were also added to push certain Champions out of their comfort zones while still ensuring their viability. Riot Games currently plans to enable all Champions in Arenas, but adjustments may be made if issues arise during the quality assurance process.
Looking to the Future
Although Arena mode may not achieve the desired polish initially due to the timely nature of its release, Riot Games remains committed to refining and balancing the mode based on player feedback. Arena will be available for the duration of the six-week-long Soul Fighter event. Following that, Riot Games will thoroughly analyze player input and consider its potential for long-term integration, whether as a permanent game mode or a rotating feature.
As someone who admires the world of Runeterra but hasn’t fully embraced League of Legends, the shorter and more intense matches of Arena have piqued my interest. Ideally, Arena will captivate many other players, offering a fresh way to experience League of Legends alongside the tried-and-true 5v5 formula that Riot Games has mastered over the past decade.