2017 was a pretty great year for lore in League of Legends. We got to know more about the Darkin, the celestial beings above Mt. Targon and even the forming of Runeterra itself. But so many of these bits of lore, awesome as they are, feel like they’re building toward something greater.
Take a look at Ornn’s lore. We see him throw his fork in one direction before the story talks about how it’s wielded as a trident by someone. A champion? A new character? A joke? Maybe. What about the Seal Sister, the fourth sibling of Ornn, Volibear and Anivia? Surely she’ll come into play soon. All of this world building is great, but with so much of it going on, it’s hard to see where the lore is actually going.
The more important stuff, also centered around Ornn’s lore, is the reminder of the Watchers hidden deep under the Howling Abyss. We know who built the bridge now and who sealed it with magic. We also know that the bridge is eroding and the the prisoners beneath are itching for release.
But none of this matters if we don’t see any follow through.
Back when I first started playing League in 2013, the Lissandra launch event happened. The Battle for Freljord was a lore event (and an in game quest) that allowed players to ally themselves with the base factions. It introduced the Howling Abyss and the imminent threat of an ancient evil ... an ancient evil that wasn’t mentioned for four long years.
Riot has certainly been rebuilding, to an extent, since they rebooted the lore in 2014. While a lot of that old history still holds, any events planned around it were probably effected by the reboot. Giving them the benefit of the doubt there, we still haven’t seen anything actually happen to Runeterra in years.
Since 2014, we’ve seen world building piece after world building piece. As mentioned earlier, we have hints of new characters and champions on every corner of the continent. But where are the stakes? The wars? The action? We have the history, now it’s time for these characters to impact their world.
Without the world changing, it’s hard to see why any of this lore matters. Sure, I love knowing where Ornn came from and why he’s a champion, but does it matter to the world? It’s all flavor until something impacts, until the Watchers come back and that history becomes active storytelling.
The best example of this done right can be seen in the comics industry. Look at how Marvel or DC builds up to an event they’re having. Regardless of the quality of the actual event, we see things change in the world because of them. All of a sudden, people want to return to those old comics and read the start of a character's arc. League needs that. It needs a reason for this history to exist.
At this point, anything would do. It feels like we’ve been waiting for the arising of the Darkin, or the return of the Watchers or the invasion of the Void for years now. Players like me have been eagerly reading the lore since before the reboot even happened. I just want to see my investment, and the investment of so many others, in this world pay off.
In 2018, I want to see Runeterra shaken to it’s core.