Riot Games finally launched the closed-beta phase for Wild Rift (WR) in some regions, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. Previously, Riot Games picked Philippine as the first country to test Wild Rift.
I think Riot Games has a strategic reason for choosing Southeast Asian to be the first region. It’s because mobile MOBA is already big in this region. Talking about Southeast Asia (SEA) and its mobile MOBA, then we have to talk about Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB). MLBB has its strongest fanbase in this region. Their first international tournament, MSC (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup), is even made specifically for gamers in SEA.
So, it’s interesting to compare both of them head-to-head. We can’t say which one is better though because of two reasons. First, WR is still on the closed-beta phase. So it’s not fair to compare it at this moment. Second, even though we become one of the media who have exclusive access since 16 September 2020, we just played a couple of games in WR, which is not sufficient to give a full judgement. You could read our first impression on WR here, though.
Nevertheless, I think there are some exciting things that we found in WR that could be compared to MLBB. Here are some of the most fundamental differences between WR and MLBB.
1. Last Hit
The first core difference is on the last hit feature. In MLBB, there are gold and exp differences when you’re last hitting minions, but the gap is not that big. In WR, the gap is so much more significant.
This may sound simple but its implications are enormous. First, more forgiving on last-hit (MLBB) means it’s easier for newbies. When I was learning to play my first MOBA (DotA), I spent more than a month just to practice my last hitting skill. Even then, I still couldn’t manage to last hit an entire creep wave. Since players who are better in last-hit can progress faster, it will give a bigger chance to win the match or even bully their opponents.
Second, it also means you have to concentrate on more things when missing last hit is so punishing. In the laning phase, besides farming as fast as possible, you have to stay alive as long as possible. When last-hitting is more crucial, it means you have one more thing to concentrate besides harassing enemies, dodging their skills, and paying attention to your teammates or enemies’ location. It also means you can deny your opponent to farm more significantly.
2. Buying Items
In MLBB you could buy your items everywhere. In WR, you have to return to your base. This has a serious impact on your timing, like when you should return to your base.
It will undoubtedly make the game duration longer because players have to walk more frequently from the base to their lane. Team rotation will also become more critical.
Warding is an essential skill in LoL because information on enemies location could be the factor whether you will win or lose the match. Scouting is actually possible in MLBB, even without the warding mechanism if you play certain heroes.
However, with warding system, mapping becomes a responsibility of every team member. It means warding becomes one more skill to learn for everyone who wants to be decent playing WR. It certainly will make it more fascinating on high-level players and teams, but it will make it more challenging for new players.
4. More Spells/No Heal (Regen)
Similar to LoL, WR allows each player to have two Summoner Spells on every match. Meanwhile, MLBB only allows one spell along with Regen spell.
This difference will also have great significance. WR allows more variety since players could choose to pick two aggressive/offensive spells. However, MLBB is more forgiving to inept players because Regen will always be there to help them recover their health without returning to their base.
Talking about healing, MLBB is also more generous from another source. The crab monster in the river in MLBB will give a regeneration buff when killed. While Riot Games seems to put more emphasis on location information rather than providing an easier way to restore your health, with the neutral monster on the river and the warding mechanism.
Again, I think WR will make it more entertaining to watch professional players playing against each other. Why? Because position mapping is actually very crucial, but not everyone could take advantage of it — certainly not for beginners.
5. Skill Numbers on Every Champion
Sure, every hero or champion in MLBB and WR is different but it’s not unique between them — at least in my opinion, since this is also the case when comparing MLBB to other mobile MOBAs like AoV. What makes WR unique is the number of skills of every champion. In MLBB, most heroes only have 3 skills. In WR, similar to LoL, every champion has at least 4 skills.
It also makes a substantial disparity in learning the game. Every capable MOBA player should understand and memorize every skill in the game. You have to understand and remember enemies’ skills if you want to have a bigger chance to defeat them. One skill difference on each character is massive actually. Besides the number of total skills (from every champion) that you have to learn and memorize is much greater, the application of skill combinations in the game will become so much more complicated.
6. More Item with Active Skill
In LoL, there are 32 items with active skills such as Quicksilver Sash, Zhonya’s Hourglass, etc. Meanwhile, there are less then 5 items (AFAIK) with active skills in MLBB. If, later on, WR will import all of the equipment along with its effects from LoL, WR will definitely have more items with active skills.
This will have a similar effect with the previous differences I mentioned above. It will surely make new players have a longer time to adapt and learn. It can be really complicated to get the hang of active item skills in the real battle, yet it also means we have more tools to defeat our opponents.
With 6 fundamental differences above, I do think Wild Rift will be more difficult for newbies to learn the game, compared to MLBB. However, a higher skill cap and the more elaborate strategic decision will definitely make Wild Rift on the professional esports team level more impressive to watch. Also, for some people, more challenging skills to learn could give so much more satisfaction when mastered.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying MLBB is an easy game — especially if you want to get to the highest rank or even getting into the MPL level. It’s just MLBB is more forgiving for the new players compared to Wild Rift.
Last, disclaimer, again Wild Rift is still on its closed-beta phase. It’s still too early to verdict whether it will be more difficult or simpler. Maybe we will take a look at the same topic again after Wild Rift is officially launched.