Despite being one of the most popular esports titles in the entire world, League of Legends probably isn’t at the top of many lists when it comes to raw graphics power.
Summoner’s Rift is a simple map that lacks a lot of modern graphical depth. It exists primarily to serve its purpose as a stage for action, with each section of the map simply offering a home to one of the game’s elements, like barons and dragons, and allowing players to hide or escape from their opponents.
While that’s been more than enough for the majority of League of Legends players, one fan known as Wayne decided to take Summoner’s Rift to the next level. Using the Unreal Engine, Wayne reimagined what the map would look like with extreme attention to detail and terrain.
“The goal here was to maintain all of the design of Summoner’s Rift but completely change it from stylized to realistic. This also needed to be visually appealing from both top-down as well as first-person. I tried my best to keep the atmosphere of the Rift with the same type of foliage you’d see from League of Legends,” Wayne explained.
According to Wayne, this was a “challenge” that took him several weeks to complete, with him taking a few hours out of each day to focus on the project.
In his YouTube video, Wayne discussed the process he went through to create such a stunning version of Summoner’s Rift. He started with “grey boxing,” which allows you to “quickly iterate a level’s gameplay flow” with simple shapes. This helps outline the structure of the overall map.
From there, he sculpted out the paths and the river, using a custom alpha brush. Once the groundwork was set, Wayne said he started building up particular areas of the map. This included working on the environment’s color and texture so that the rocks and plants he placed didn’t look out of place.
Near the end of the project, Wayne started using custom textures, custom trees, and even creating custom tools to fine tune the map. With his own tools, Wayne was able to even change certain terrains that came with the program, like a snowy path, into a very realistic dirt path. He was even able to make the dirth path look as though it were frequently traveled, with faded footprints heading in both directions along the lane.
The final touches for Wayne was proper lighting. At first, he made it a little dark, but he later decided to give the map a bit more of a sunset feel with rays of light peaking out between the trees and a warm light luminating the Rift as a whole. This gave the map a serene feel that really captured Summoner’s Rift before the action begins.
While MOBA games like Dota 2 and League of Legends are not likely to adopt these Skyrim-style graphics any time soon, Wayne’s project shows just how possible it is to have a MOBA map in the near future that isn’t only functional, but beatiful.