Riot Games recently dropped a new developer diary to cap off another year of development on Project L, their upcoming free-to-play fighting game based on League of Legends‘ vast fantasy world of Runeterra. Within the presentation, they show off some work-in-progress footage with updated character models and a first look at Illaoi in playable form. More crucially, they also delve into the game’s core tag team mechanics.
For the presentation, three primary mechanics were revealed: Assist Action, Handshake Tag, and Dynamic Save (all names pending). Combined, they should enable a wide range of strategies and expressions for Project L, but similar mechanics can already be experimented with in a multitude of other modern fighting games. In fact, almost every tag fighter has some form of assist action, in which a teammate enters briefly to perform a single attack or special move. For players looking to get a head start on Project L, here are some of the best games that feature its style and mechanics most similarly.
Among Project L‘s core tag mechanics, one stands to influence the possibilities of gameplay in greater strides: the “Handshake Tag.” A handshake enables the player to transition from a regular assist action straight into a character switch, even mid-combo. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite doesn’t just push that idea to the forefront, but instead wraps the entire combat engine around handshake tags as a concept.
MvCI is arguably the most experimental game in the series and is among the very few tag fighters without a straight assist action. Instead, the game’s driving mechanic is “Active Switch,” in which the player’s second character immediately rushes in and switches places with their point character, and can even be done multiple times per combo in some cases. This particular system creates a wonderfully fluid system of team integration, and while MvCI is definitely stiff in other areas, this driving mechanic is the one thing at which the game excels.
The title also features a version of Project L‘s “Dynamic Save,” wherein the second character steps in to protect the lead character in the middle of being attacked. However, it’s clear that Active Switch is the headliner, making MvCI a good option for players looking to take Project L‘s offerings one concept at a time.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle Offers All of Project L’s Current Mechanics
For those looking to acclimate to the entire Project L package in one go, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle has it all. Also in the category of 2v2 tag fighters, Cross Tag features multiple assist actions per character, the ability to perform Handshake Tags out of assists, and a robust and decently risky Dynamic Save system that rewards good timing and reading the opponent. Cross Tag also expands on these ideas prodigiously, elevating the handshake with “Cross Combo,” a system that allows active control of both characters for a limited time, and “Resonance Blaze,” a revenge mechanic for empowering a remaining character when the other falls and scales with frequent prior usage of tag mechanics.
The big observable differences between Cross Tag and Project L are pace and mobility. While Cross Tag does feature the majority of mechanical expression found in Project L, characters tend to have more limited movement options than in many other tag fighters, making up the difference with greater attack coverage and system fidelity per fighter.
Skullgirls & Multiversus Emulate Project L’s Expressive Synergies
A good tag game isn’t just a collection of solid individuals, but an expression of teams and synergies that execute a unified strategy. While not a specific talking point, Project L‘s presentation visually emphasizes a focus on this intra-team mutual play structure, so there’s definitely value in playing fighting games with a similar emphasis.
Skullgirls is the most modifiable tag fighter out there, allowing for both variable teams of one to three characters and fully customizable assist actions. The ability for the player to craft any style or expression of team allows any combination of characters to feel powerful and fine-tuned. Multiversus, on the other hand, leans heavily into special moves that create mutualistic interactions among team members, with every character capable of at least one special move that buffs or assists their partner to some degree. Between the two, Skullgirls is much closer to Project L‘s overall structure, while Multiversus embraces Project L‘s simple control scheme and free-to-play aspect.
While Project L still doesn’t have a concrete release date (or a final name), the reveal of these integral mechanics and developmental footage means that players could attempt to learn some of the fighting games that clearly helped inspire these systems. Maybe they’ll even find a new favorite game in the process.