Still Playing: League Of Legends
Amumu is a small, saucer-eyed mummy. Legend tells that he awoke inside a pyramid in League of Legends’ Shurima desert, clad in bandages and devoid of a heartbeat. Alone, he travelled across southern Valoran – a feat that the League Of Legends wiki calls “not easily dismissed.” Amumu eventually made his way north, across the Great Barrier and to the Institute Of War, so that he might join up with the eponymous League Of Legends, fighting alongside and against each other in Riot Games’ hyper-successful MOBA.
Emumu is a small, saucer-eyed mummy with a floppy, dyed-black fringe poking out of the bandages around his head. Emumu wears a pair of black, fingerless gloves, and a black t-shirt emblazoned with his own name and cartoon stars. After all of League Of Legends’ meandering plot-work, all of its earnest yarn-spinning and attempts at creating a coherent fictional world, Emumu is an emo Amumu, utterly incongruous in LOL’s universe of fantasy medievalism and technologically-obsessed rodent-people.
Emumu’s not a standout case, either. I’ve spent real cash on a pretend bunny suit for small Yordle trickster Teemo. Yordles are League Of Legends’ gremlin-men: dinky and cute in their typical form, but varied enough that they can be warped and twisted to fit whatever the game’s story designer was daydreaming about on the day he or she came to write a character’s backstory. Teemo’s a small, human-looking thing that likes to dress up as a rabbit; fellow Yordle Heimerdinger is a squat, creepy mad scientist, with bug-eyed glasses and matted curls on his head that could be hair or brain matter. One of his skins inflates his cranium to horrible levels to give him the visage of a Mars Attacks! martian. Another darkens and sleekens his hair, affixing a ‘70s moustache and a pair of sunglasses to his face to – for some reason – turn him into a mechanic.
Some character skins at least make sense in context of their back-story. Nocturne – a manifestation of nightmares given wispy form and a gaping maw – comes in Ravager, Void, Haunting, and Frozen Terror flavours. Others, like Emumu, don’t even try to blend in. Yeti-rider Nunu dresses his furry charge in a Christmas outfit in his Workshop skin. Pentakill Yorick turns the gravedigging hero into ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.
I like these skins better than the fastidious, lore-centric ones. League Of Legends’ back-story is as confused as you’d expect from a game that’s had to forcibly insert some 100-plus characters into a single world across the space of a few years. The game’s colourful fantasy art is pretty enough, but it loses contrast quickly, especially against similar (and better) peers like Dota 2. Silly skins are there to inject some visual individuality into the game, but they’re also there as a natural warning system to other players, like a poisonous frog in a rainforest. Anyone who drops cash on them is likely to be dangerous. When I take these skins into one of League Of Legends’ public five-on-five matches, I’m treated with suspicion.