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Project L Opinions From The EVO Arcade

Fans got a first-hand look at Riot Games' major fighting game project. What do FGC members think about Project L?

Project L is easily the most anticipated game in the FGC, right now. The lines at EVO this weekend prove it. Many of the competitors and spectators at EVO want to get their hands on the tag-based fighter in hopes of being one of the first in the world to experience what it offers. We got a chance to chat with some of the folks on the show floor about their first impressions of Project L.

At EVO, there’s a couple of ways you can experience Project L. First, there’s the long wait lines to participate in the controlled, Riot observed area right when you enter the convention hall. This area is where you can choose a d-pad or arcade stick, and potentially have your match displayed on a big screen. However, if you venture deeper into the masses, you’ll find the retro arcade. Hidden deep within its recesses is a 2v2 arcade machine set up, playing Project L. 

This was a very raw and organic way to experience the game, people were forming teams with strangers, working on their tactics and learning the game without the aid of the web. It was reminiscent of the golden era of the arcade. When a new game came out, you didn’t have copious guides to help you learn a character. You had to just play. That feeling was something that players were resonating with at EVO. In particular, figuring out the team elements of Project L were unlocking new avenues for creativity.

“…in this game, your partner controls when they want to come out so it requires real communication. So I had to tell him "hey I need your help right here” and so he would come in with the assist and then we tag out. Yeah. It was really fun.” said Ninjanam, an attendee at EVO.

This sort of organic state of learning helped to contextualize Project L in a way that probably couldn’t be done anywhere else. Because of the death of arcades across America and copious amounts of online fact-finding, fighting games don’t take long to be demystified. But at EVO, Project L found a way to get gamers communicating with one another to share their findings. If you were venturing around the classic arcade there was a lot of “yeah Ekko can do x” or “if you assist here and then tag you get a crazy mix-up.” In many ways, it felt like 1993 and a new cabinet just got dropped off at your local pizza place.

But those team elements and fact finding missions aren’t for the faint of heart. Fighting games are still notoriously unforgiving and Project L will be no different. Only now there will be the extra element of another person to be mindful of.

“[Project L] will test a lot of friendships that’s for sure.” says Mike Davis, who played as Ninjanam’s partner. “But of the two games I played I really enjoyed it…actually loved it.”

Davis’ sentiment echoed through the weekend as pros, casuals, content creators and industry experts alike all left the show floor singing the praises of Riot’s fighter. The excitement also comes with absence of a new Vs. style fighter in the scene currently. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite currently isn’t a factor at the pro level and Dragonball Fighterz is quickly approaching its sixth year on the circuit.

“I’m so hype for this game, I feel like I’m only going to play MK1 till this drops. ‘Cuz once it does, it's gonna be a monster.” said another player while waiting in line in EVO’s retro arcade.

In addition to the game itself, there was chatter about which champions from League could eventually become characters in Project L. Within the space of a few games we overheard folks mention Lee Sin, Jhin, Kai’sa, Udyr, Sett and many others as potential fighters in Project L. Most of these requests were in the context of informing non-League players of just how many options Riot has for the game. While it may be a couple years away, Project L is looking like the icing on the cake for this new explosion of fighting game excellence.