League of Legends Tries Something Totally Different with New Swarm Mode

Legaue of Legends' Swarm mode is the refresh summer events needed.

League of Legends' new game mode called Swarm is unlike anything Riot Games has ever put out, and based on what we've seen of it so far, it just might keep you hooked into League for the summer if your time on Summoner's Rift is wearing on you. The new Swarm mode is a limited-time experience akin to something like Vampire Survivors or other auto-shooters filled with enemies albeit with a League spin put on the mode.

The trailer below offers a first look at Swarm which itself is not something totally groundbreaking outside of League. Again, it looks like Vampire Survivors to a degree, so if you've played that game or others like it, you should fall right into the groove of Swarm. League players will have to get used to the idea of piloting their champions with WASD controls, but that's the only real barrier of entry here.

This version of Swarm is called Operation: Anima Squad since its themed after the new line of Anima Squad skins which include one for Aurora, League's newest champion. Played from a perspective that shouldn't be unfamiliar to League players, Operation: Anima Squad consists of nine different champions: Aurora, Briar, Illaoi, Jinx, Seraphine, Riven, Leona, Yasuo, and Xayah. Each have their own unique basic attacks, one ability, and an ultimate as well as a passive which are all adapted from their full kits similar to what you'd see in Teamfight Tactics.

Once you load into Swarm, things start slow. Low-level mobs from the Primordian invaders converge on your location, and your chosen champion will automatically shoot or hit out at them at fixed intervals. Riven's attack is a close-range AOE, for example, which does more the closer you are to the enemy to reward risky playstyles, while Jinx's is her trusty minigun. Defeat a few enemies to level up, and you'll be able to pick your first augment or upgrade.

Some of these look again like things you'd see in Teamfight Tactics or League's Arena mode. You can pick things like the UwU Blaster which blasts things around you or orbital strikes which clear large areas on a very long cooldown, or you can upgrade your ability or stats. Sometimes, you can even have a train barrel by to clear out enemies.

Various systems in place help keep Swarm from being a monotonous dance around Primordian mobs. There are certain challenges triggered by converging on tower-like structures featuring Yuumi and Bel'Veth which task players with beating enemies enough within a certain timeframe, pushing objects into an area, or so on. Doing so successfully is an easy way to level up further and help you out in later stages.

Eventually, you'll come up against a boss fight which is unique to each of the four maps Swarm offers. One, for example, had our team of four fighting against Rek'Sai in a battle that looked straight out of an MMO. Rek'Sai threatened the party with telegraphed AOE attacks that you had to avoid lest you take massive damage as we tried to weave in our own attacks. Rek'Sai would occasionally make a tunnel in during the boss fight which had to be destroyed before she returned to it.


League of Legends' new Swarm mode.


While parts of the mode felt clunky at times -- it was an early version of it after all -- the later stages and the boss fights showed potential. Small XP orbs and goofy projectiles looked out of place as Riot worked on refining the core features first and foremost, and movement and hitboxes felt a bit questionable at times to the point that our team could only laugh about it in comms, but the late stages of Swarm and the boss was no joke. There was a noticeable shift in attention when our champions were reaching their full potential, and everyone was as locked in as possible for the Rek'Sai fight. It's moments like those which will make this the perfect summer event for friends and even those who aren't really into League to enjoy.

Unfortunately, Swarm is only sticking around for the summer, though there's of course the chance that it could come back. I asked at the preview if the "Operation" part of the Swarm mode was in place so that we could one day see Swarm as Operation: Star Guardian or something similar, and Riot gave the expected answer that they'd look for opportunities for Swarm based on community sentiment. Based on what's been seen of Swarm so far, the community will hopefully agree it needs to come back as often as possible.