Arcane: Act I delivers on League of Legends expectations


Arcane: Act I had a lot to live up to in the first three episodes of the show and it delivered in every way.

When it was first announced that Arcane would debut the world of League of Legends to the world of television, it was enormous news for fans of the game. But with excitement comes the possibility of disappointment, so there was some trepidation as the arrival of Arcane got closer and closer.

With the conclusion of Arcane: Act I, it’s too early to call the show a complete success as there are six more episodes to go, but it appears the people at Netflix and Riot knew what they were doing when they were making this uniquely inspired show. With a cast of characters as vast as that of League of Legends, there were a tons of potential for missteps, but Arcane has avoided them in Act I.

Arcane could have gone too big, too fast, but it refuses to do so in Act I

There are 157 different champions players can choose from in the game League of Legends. The people who play the game all have their favorites, and it would have been very easy for Riot and Netflix to try to work as many of them into the series as possible to appeal to as many of the players as they could.

Doing so would have been a mistake, and the story being told in Arcane is exhibit A on why choosing to focus on the story of a few of the characters was the way to go. All of the confirmed playable characters were in this first act of Arcane. We saw Vi, Jinx (known as Powder at this point in the series), Jayce, Caitlin, Viktor, Heimerdinger, and Ekko. It’s possible we’ll see more, but we don’t have to for Arcane to be a success.

Keeping the story focused on about five percent of the cast of characters of League of Legends allowed Arcane to focus on storytelling, and not focus on fan service. It would have been easy for the people at Netflix to strive for as much fan service as they could, but they wanted this to be a show everyone could love, not just people who play the game.

Arcane thrives as a show for all viewers regardless of familiarity with the source material

The strength of Arcane comes from the fact that it wants to be a good show, not just a good video game show. In Act I, we’re given the setup for what people who played the game already knew. The sister rivalry between Vi and Jinx (Powder for now) is the heart of a larger story between the affluent city of Piltover and the poverty stricken city of Zaun. Attachment and admiration for their surrogate father Vander helps unite them. It’s this bond that allows the story to appeal to people who haven’t played the game.

As most good shows are prone to doing, Arcane has other plot threads being explored. We’re introduced to Jayce, Caitlin, Viktor, and Heimerdinger in the second episode. Jayce and Viktor are the most compelling characters of this part of the story, but it seems likely Caitlin will play a larger role in the remaining episodes of this season.

The first Act of Arcane ends in tragedy. It might be easy for people familiar with the lore of the game to see coming, but it would be much harder to anticipate for those who are not familiar with League of Legends. The origin story for these characters has been lain, and it now falls to Riot and Netflix to keep the ball rolling.

Grade, so far: A

Next. What to expect in the Netflix show Arcane. dark

What did you think of the first act of Arcane? Let us know in the comments!