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Everything we know about Project A: Characters, weapons and more

by Andy Williams
Riot Games

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As part of the League of Legends 10-year anniversary, Riot Games announced their latest venture, a character–based FPS called Project A. Here’s everything that we know about Riot’s take on a competitive shooter.

To mark the unprecedented success of League of Legends over the last decade, Riot announced their competitive, character–based FPS during a special 10th-anniversary edition of Riot Pls, on October 16.

Codenamed ‘Project A’, the FPS is currently in the early stages of development and boasts a series of well-regarded, veteran developers behind its design, including CS:GO map maker Sal 'Volcano' Garozzo.

Volcano working on Riot Games' Project A.
Riot Games
Volcano is one of the Senior Game Designers behind Project A.

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Riot Games Executive Producer, Anna ‘Supercakes’ Donlon, walked us through an early reveal of the new FPS that is coming exclusively to PC.

“Project A is our character-based tactical shooter: it’s competitive, it has precise gunplay, it’s set on a beautiful near-future earth and it has a lethal cast of characters, each with their own unique abilities — this our take on a competitive shooter.”

Donlon then went on to express that “just like League (of Legends), we’re in this for years and years to come” with the objective to evolve the genre of tactical shooters by implementing “more creativity, more expression and a lot more style.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iGU6PctOBg

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Character-based FPS

Project A will sport a “lethal cast of characters”, each with own set of abilities to support any style of play.

As teased in the trailer, the shooter will be team-based and, given Riot’s experience from their MOBA, the reliance on lane utilization and strategy will prompt for the correct combination of characters and abilities to allow teams to flourish in Project A.

Project A's characters.
Project A's characters.
Project A will have a variety of characters to choose from.

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Character abilities

Given that Riot’s new FPS will rely heavily on character–map interaction, the use and correct deployment of abilities will be paramount to getting one over your opponent. Riot’s EP teased at how each ability will work within a given situation: “In Project A, your abilities create amazing tactical opportunities for your gun play to shine.”

Riot Games CEO, Nicolo Laurent, further endorsed the reliance on gun play by stating that “shooting matters”, meaning that character abilities will not directly win in-game battlers.

“You don’t kill with abilities. Abilities create tactical opportunities to take the right shot. Characters have abilities that augment their gunplay, instead of fighting directly with their abilities.”

Throwing knives in Project A.
Riot Games
Alongside deploying a gust of wind, this character has an ultimate which combines swift movement and throwing knives.

Ice ability in Project A.
Riot Games
Players can use a block of ice to temporarily block off areas of the map, while summoning a secondary character (left).

Barrier Summon ability in Project A.
Riot Games
Enemies are cornered off as you segment the map to your liking.

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As per the teaser trailer, players will be able to utilize a combination of four abilities per character. The ability farthest right appears to be an ultimate (which looks to require a transient charge-up period). Interestingly, the ultimate ability seems to be a the set of throwing knives which you can hurl towards your enemy — shown above. Contrary to the aforementioned statements from Laurent, the ultimate ability can be used to take out enemies (as shown in the trailer).

Alongside a roster of abilities that will permit an in-game tactical advantage, it appears that players will spawn with 100 points of health.

Project A's Unreal Engine.
Riot Games
Project A is running on Unreal Engine.

Gameplay

Notably, the game's alpha seems to be running on Epic Games' Unreal Engine (the Swiss army-knife of development tools), which will allow for near boundless possibilities to be explored by the development team.

Moreover, not only will the engine's integration promote smooth code patches, but it will also encourage the creation of an aesthetically pleasing title, since the engine bolsters a plethora of textures and effects.

In terms of the in-game specifics, the tactical shooter's loadout options appear to be reliant on a 'buy menu', akin to that of FPS titan, Counter-Strike. Following a series of Tweets from Henry 'HenryG' Greer, it is now understood that abilities will "need to be purchased at the start of a round instead of earned over time with the same economy reservoir as the weaponry."

Project A's buy menu.
Riot Games
Players will have a wide-range of weapons, equipment and abilities to choose from in-game.

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Weapons

The trailer alone shows several weapon categories and variations. As per other tactical shooters, a broad weapon roster is essential to ensure diverse and intense gun-fights. Given that Riot’s CEO expressed that “shooting matters”, we can expect to see a variety of weapon combinations.

Moreover, the game exploits both hip-fire and aiming down sight (ADS) to take out and enemies, both of which displayed smooth transitions, which will allow for a more ‘fluid’ in-game feel.

Both hip-fire and ADS showed minimal recoil in the trailer, which hints at the inclusion of hitscan as opposed to projectile — removing the need to factor in lead time or adjusting for bullet drop-off.

Weapons in Project A.
Riot Games
Players will be able to choose a weapon to best suit their style of play.

Maps

After testing an early build of Project A, popular CS:GO caster, HenryG, revealed some information relating to the map system and player abilities work into each map — dubbing the title the "best game" he had played since Valve's flagship FPS.

In a series of Tweets, HenryG detailed plenty of unique elements to the in-game mechanics, but appeared especially exciting about the map design. "They have been beautifully created and follow Counter-strikesque familiar lanes and choke points," Greer stated. "With the focus on game-play substance, rather than flowery aesthetics."

While Counter-Strike relies solely on gunfights and equipment utilization to navigate any given map, Project A will add another tactical layer to the mix through player/hero abilities. Indeed, Greer all but confirmed this by stating that "there's nothing more satisfying dropping a successful combo of movement mechanics abilities that isolates your opponent to buy space..." in his series of Tweets.

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Riot are creating their own internet?

Donlon also made a point to address the issue surrounding ‘peeker’s advantage’ in shooters — a phenomena that exploits ping latency to servers when moving players ‘peek’ an enemy that is still. To combat this, the development team are making changes to netcode parameters to ensure that all players are given an equal playing field, through play ping–balancing.

Netcode in Project A.
Riot Games
Riot Games are looking to minimize latency.

Parallel to abolishing peeker's advantage, Riot will seek to minimize player-to-server packet loss and latency by tackling the final boss of online gaming: the internet. As stated by Donlon, Riot are "going big on things like global infrastructure", which in turn means that they will need to alter the backbone of their networking capabilities.

In a 2016 post, the former Technical Director, Payton Maynard-Koran, detailed Riot's plans by stating their ambitions to "build (their) own internet." In short, the model proposes a reduction in the number of variables, and thus the drop in packets. Given the commitment offered in the trailer, Project A may harness this blueprint and adapt it accordingly.

Riot Games' old networking infrastructure.
Riot Games
The 'old' model offers a complex networking infrastructure.

Riot Games' new and improved networking infrastructure for Project A.
Riot Games
Riot's plans are shown through a simple schematic.

Cheating is a thing of the past?

Alongside the aforementioned changes to networking dynamics, Riot’s team have “put anti-cheat at the forefront of (their) development” and “will do whatever it takes to preserve the integrity of your matches.”

Cheating has plagued the gaming community within all genres of games, however, given the dependence on crisp aim and speedy reaction times, hacking is rife within tactical shooters. However, the use of aimbots and such alike may be a thing of the past in Project A, which will instill confidence into those considering a switch over to the new competitive shooter.

Project A's in-built anti-cheat system.
Riot Games
"Match terminated" hints at strict punishment should hacks be found in-game.

Release date

Riot are yet to confirm an official release date for Project A, but Donlon implied that they're going "heads down for a while" and teased that we can expect more details on the FPS in 2020. Although a date is yet to be set in stone, Riot's first venture into the shooter genre is expected to drop during the latter parts of 2020.

A leak pertaining to Project A's beta surfaced following a since-deleted article from El Imparcial. As detailed in the article, it was rumored that fans eager to get their hands on Riot's FPS can do so on March 2. The rumor supposedly stemmed from Riot Games' PR & Comms team in Latin America following a playtest event with content creators.


Riot teased that there is more to come in 2020, and with the development team hard at work, we can expect to see a more polished version of the game.

Stay tuned, as we will keep this article updated with the latest from Project A.