With many of League of Legends’ more prominent cinematics containing ballistic fights and clashing steel, it can be easy to forget that Riot Games knows their way around a backstory too. ANNIE: Origins is here to remind us of that fact, in the grimmest, most painstakingly rendered way possible.

The cinematic contributes a lot of important lore to Annie’s story. For instance (without spoiling anything), it shows us that Annie was not always sadistic. Also, perhaps more importantly, it shows us that Annie has a sister named Daisy — a sister we could hear more about in future. It’s valuable for filling us in on Annie’s past, but points like this remind us that there’s a lot of room to work with future lore for older champions like Annie.

Why does it look so good?

The video is designed with a powerful painted style, made by animating the cinematic with standard 3D animation originally before drawing over it to give it the handcrafted paint look. The result is a stunning, blurry, painted feeling that gives the impression of a fairy tale — a likeness that complements Annie’s dark and childish nature very well.

“We’ve seen full 3D CG Content before,” said Anthony Possobon, a staff member in charge of Creative Direction. “We wanted something that just looked unique, and something we could call our own, and live up to in Annie’s story.”

The handcrafted look makes for some beautiful snapshots.

What makes ANNIE: Origins different?

Riot Games has some history of success with their cinematic videos, but this success is largely associated with action and excitement. For example, the high-octane  “A New Dawn” and “Get Jinxed” are among their most viewed works. ANNIE: Origins, on the other hand, has a much more solemn and grim design. It demonstrates that Riot is perhaps widening the range of their animated releases to include a more balanced mix of dramatic and exciting works.

And indeed, Riot has been hitting the mark with that balance recently. Two months ago we got the music video cinematic “Varus: As We Fall”, a lore rework with chilling atmosphere. Then, just two weeks ago, Riot gave us the simpler thrill of “The Climb” in preparation for the new ranked season. ANNIE: Origins was just the thing to give players after The Climb; from gameplay hype, to dramatic story development.

ANNIE: Origins gives players a much more thorough understanding of Annie’s tragic past.

“I hope that players, when they watch this, it elicits a connection,” said Anthony. “An emotion, to make you feel for her.”

The unique art, along with the musical score and voice acting, was clearly a product of extensive hard work. The creative process can be seen in the behind the scenes video uploaded with ANNIE: Origins.

Everything about ANNIE: Origins rings with despair and revenge, but also with the love of its creators. Riot has taken a risk to try something very notably unique and different. And, judging by the immediate feedback, it was an overwhelming success. What did you think of it?

A huge video game fan, studying Journalism and International Studies at UNSW. I love to chill out with friends and play League of Legends or CS:GO just as much as I love to watch Twitch streamers or follow whatever big tournaments are currently going. Beyond that, I enjoy anime (so the JRPG has a special place in my heart), nights out with friends, and a good meme or two.