Celebrating Arcane Season Finale in True Zaunite Fashion in LA

By Dan
Nov. 29, 2021 updated 07:38

The League of Legends animated television series Arcane wrapped up its final act this past weekend, and we returned to Los Angeles after the premiere to join the Undercity Nights (UCN) carnival.

UCN was the last phase of the two-week RiotX Arcane campaign, which featured a charity tournament called Riot Gauntlet, an immersive experience presented by Secret Cinema called Arcane: Enter the Undercity, an advance screening of the final act of Arcane, and much more.

We arrived at the site of Day 1 of UCN in the evening of November 19. The colorful light broke out of the industrial feel studio, giving the outer wall with corroded pipework very much the taste of a Zaun workshop. The security personnel patrolling the entrance was dressed up as Piltoveran enforcers, shouting at everyone to line up and get ready to enter the venue.

The show began from the moment we lined up

Guests started filing into the drawbridge connecting Piltover and Zaun after the Enforcer captain briefly announced the rules of entering the undercity. In a blush-colored fume, a teenageVi led Powder slowly towards the other end of the bridge. This was the scene in the first episode of Arcane where the sisters witness the death of their parents. I got some real goosebumps when that “Dear Friend Across the River” song started playing in the background.

The screens on either side of the drawbridge then flashed several key moments from the first act of Arcane, and the sisters' story fast-forwards to Powder's good intentions leading to disaster. Vi rushed over and gave her sister a solid slap in the face, and the screen next to her transitioned into the famous scene from the third episode – Powder’s tribute to "Fallen Angel”. The door at the end of the drawbridge then opened slowly to welcome all guests from the city above.

A live show at the beginning cranking up the level of immersion to 12

We walked through the winding tunnel amidst deafening electronic dance music and the distinctive glowing green lights of Zaun. Along with the crowd, we arrived at the dark alley of the Undercity. An NPC with dreadlocks stopped us and briefed on the night's mission: find the Shimmer.

NPC patiently explained the tasks to the audience

Not all NPCs are that friendly

The task was quickly forgotten the moment I discovered The Last Drop, with a special drink list for Progress Day featuring four specialty cocktails including Pow Pow and Shimmer. People of the Undercity clearly know how to enjoy their best life.

The cable in front of The Last Drop has Powder’s rabbit doll hanging on it

Yet with the help of a heavily tattooed Zaunite, I managed to find a bucket of Shimmer in a treasure chest by the bar. We then bid farewell to The Last Drop and continued to explore the city’s lower reaches.

We ran into Jinx and Vi a couple times while wandering around

The entire immersive experience lasts about two hours, and there is plenty of time to find all locations of the Shimmer if you're willing to engage. Guests are welcomed to interact with all characters to further understand the story between the twin cities, and their actions would dictate the ending of the story. The adventure, created by Riot in collaboration with Secret Cinema, is said to run for four weeks from November 22 in LA only, and we actually took advantage of the event to attend the premiere of the show.

The outcome of the story varies depending on the results of the collection of Shimmer by the audience and the interaction with the actors. In the act we participated in, Jinx eventually lost her sanity and wiped around those pistols, and the show culminates in the sound of her gunfire.

The new character in the final act also made an appearance in the immersive experience

As the live show drew to a close, the staff guided us along the aisle decorated with Undercity Nights-themed LED lights to the other side of the studio. It almost looked like a huge steampunk-style Internet cafe: hundreds of gaming chairs were placed next to each other, each equipped with a full set of Razor hardware. This seemed to be where Riot Gauntlet takes place: eight global teams would compete in Riot’s most popular games featuring League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics, and the winner will compete against a team of Riot game designers and developers on November 20 in the finals. As a charity tournament, the winner will enjoy the ability to put portions of a $100,000 prize pool towards a charitable cause of their choice.

The steampunk Internet cafe that Riot put together

We then walked through the crowded Internet cafe and entered a whole new world.

Riot teamed up with FPS performance platform Aim Lab to create a VR shooting game that resembles Vi and Powder's favorite childhood game, and draw a long queue in front of the scoreboard; some artists across the street had painted a lifelike Jinx on the digital graffiti screen; the Zaun night market outside the arcade was full of everything from lobster ramen to sour watermelon popcorn. The exquisite set and creative design stunned everyone even for attendees who were not Riot game fans.

A young lady playing Arcane-themed VR game in front of the scoreboard from the TV series 

The barista looked a lot like Victor

With a full belly, the crowd was reminded by the staff to go back to the main venue. At this point the Internet cafe had been transformed into a screening room, quietly waiting for the final act of Arcane. We chose to watch on the beanbags, but I couldn't help straightening my back a few times over the breathtaking season finale.

On the right side of the frame sits Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot, and Nicolo Laurent, CEO, whom we interviewed earlier at the premiere

As the credits rolled for the Season 1 finale, the audience erupted in thunderous applause and cheers. The internal screening was three hours earlier than the worldwide launch of the final act, and we were asked not to leak any plot on any social media platform. But there needs to be a way to calm the desire of audience who wanted to share it with others, and Day 1 of the event was capped off with a lively discussion.

Day 2 was more like a continuation of the carnival - everyone got to fill their stomachs in the Zaun snack street and continue touring the arcade games that they didn't get in line for yesterday. On this side of the studio, media and sponsors from all over the world were concentrating their attention in front of the claw cranes and VR devices; over the other side, teams of Riot employees and content creators battled fiercely at the main venue.


There was no immersive experience on Day 2, but the cosplayers were in no way less attractive than the professional actors

We also ran into Alex Yee, co-creator of Arcane, and took the opportunity to do a quick interview with him.

When asked why choosing Piltover and Zaun as the setting for season 1, Alex said that the other co-creator, Christian Linke, made his career by creating music for the game, including Vi and Jinx’s theme song, and the birthplace of the sisters naturally became their first choice when writing the story; in addition, Piltover has some Paris in it, and that’s where Fortiche (the animation studio behind Arcane) was born. Most importantly, they wanted the story to stem from a place that can serve as the springboard for other parts of Runeterra, and the birth of Hextech really rewrote the history and rippled across the world.

Since Alex mentioned the rest of the Runeterra, we then asked him if there’d be season 2. Alex smiled and said that their priority was to get season 1 out, and that the subsequent work would be adjusted according to the audience's feedback. It was very fulfilling for him to read all the good comments and theories on the first season. When I asked about the production progress, Alex shrugged and said there’s nothing he was allowed to say.

Stay tuned for more detailed interview content!

We soon found out the reason behind Alex’s tight lip: as Riot Gauntlet came to an end, the main stage screen flashed, Caitlin's voice rang through the venue: "Every way I slice it… if I go after your sister alone, one of us comes back in a box." This 30-second teaser announced Riot’s official commitment to season 2, and the crowd instantly erupted into loud cheers and whistles.

Arcane: until next time