League has changed dramatically since launch. The game was released as a spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients and brought over some of the same champion designs, including some absolutely absurd creations. The original set of forty playable champions included a pyromaniac little girl, a minotaur, a scarecrow, and a little Yordle riding a yeti. Little bound these characters together other than some contrived story about the world of Runeterra settling their differences in the League of Legends.
|Annie's original skin art|
Regardless, the game lore has become increasingly expansive, even while the actual gameplay has changed very little. Several champion backgrounds, a few paragraph-length stories that explore a champions past, have been updated since launch, toning down the humor and adding darker or more expansive lore. Some characters, like Thresh and the upcoming Lucian, have backgrounds that tie together. In this case, Lucian's deceased wife had her soul taken by the lantern-wielding ghoul.
In some cases, these lore do in fact have a presence on the battlefield. Riot launched the recently released Howling Abyss map with a blow-out event that re-wrote character lore, established a history for the new location, and included a website that split some champions into warring factions. If you play a certain character on the map, unique audio cues enrich the story. Likewise, if the characters of Ashe and Lissandra are on opposing teams, each team may be given a unique quest that is satisfied only if one of them kills the other.
Again, functionally, none of this lore matters one bit. However, lore speculation and fanaticism over specific characters seems to have grown. If anything, Riot is merely adding narrative content to meet a player demand for not only an entertaining game, but a compelling back story that enriches each individual match. As far as I'm concerned, it's a remarkable success. I long for the rounds I can watch one character duke it out against another, and I do find myself reading into the characters I often play. For a game that never needed it, the effort Riot has put into the story is impressive. In fact, maybe it's even rich enough for the story to break out of the MOBAs and into other game genres entirely.