We thought it would be a good time to do a deep dive into the Champion Update Team. Similar to the “State of the Season” Devblog that Meddler puts out, we wanted to try doing a “State of Champion Update.”
We currently have four small teams on Champion Updates: two focused on the large scale reworks, one focused on our big class updates, and a small team of illustrators (in house and outsourcing partners) that are going through and updating old outdated splash art. I’ll be going over our future projects for all four teams and talk about what the goals for the projects were, as well as reflecting on the goals of our recently released projects.For the sake of clarity we can call them Team A, Team B, the Roster Team, and the Splash Team (though writing this makes me realize that we need to come up with cooler names for the teams).
Our goals with the mage update were similar to previous class updates. We wanted to take a group of low mobility mages and give them all distinct gameplay from each other. We also wanted to give them the tools to survive in a new world of LoL where mobility was King. After the results of previous projects, we also put a stronger emphasis on cohesion. This means we wanted to make sure the changes felt thematic to the character.
Currently we're seeing increased or similar playrate on most of the “big six.” A lot of the mages are perceived as being more viable and distinct after the update as well. These are all big wins but we also don’t think the mages had as big of an impact as previous roster projects. Vel’koz in particular we don’t think we pushed enough. After some recent changes he is back to a similar playrate and is a bit more strategically distinct (that true damage), but all in all we think we could have pushed him further than we did. We also think we should have done less mages in retrospect but pushed the ones we did push further. Malzahar could have used even more work on the game health side and Brand would have been even cooler if we could have fully reworked his Ultimate.
Our goals for the Assassin update are to give each Assassin a unique gameplay role, put the entire class in a healthier place, and give Assassins more ways to help their team. We also believe that Assassins really embody the “Skill fantasy” in our game. We want Assassins to have greater outplay potential but also be able to be outplayed. By making them less reliable we can also make their success cases stronger.
One of the big difference with Assassins is that we think we went too safe on the mage changes. We want to really push these characters thematics/play patterns. We found that the projects we put the most time/resources into ended up our most successful projects. With Assassins, we aren't taking the approach of “What one thing can we do to improve this champion?” but rather “What would we have to do to make this Champion complete?” This means we'd have to take on fewer projects, but that each project would have a bigger impact. We still want to do small changes to most of the Assassin class, but we want the main projects to be larger in scope. We're excited to see how this new strategy pans out!
The splash update team is a pretty small group of illustrators that is primarily focused on updating our old skin splash art as well and creating new splash art for our big VGU’s. (We even did a cool new Malzahar splash for the Mage update!) The most recent projects have been the Nidalee, Tristana, Trundle, and Sion skin splash updates you’ve seen recently. Not much to say here except that we feel these have been super successful and the player response has been outstanding—who doesn’t like awesome splash art? We are currently very close to finishing Fiora’s skin splash update and also have begun early work on updated skin splashes for Twitch.
Our goals on Ryze were to update Ryze’s art/lore to modern standards, give Ryze healthier gameplay, and also give Ryze a unique strategic identity that wasn’t just “do a bunch of damage.” We also wanted to make sure he still felt like a “combo mage.”
Overall we feel we did a pretty good job on hitting our goals with Ryze and that he's in the best place he’s been in a long time. New and old players alike are enjoying the Ryze rework, and we feel we have better levers in place to balance Ryze in the future. We also feel that the team teleport really put him in a unique place among or cast. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy watching the abundance of Ryze Teleport videos on social media? Could this be the final rework for Ryze? We sure as hell hope so!
Shortly after Ryze wrapped up, Team A jumped onto the much anticipated Warwick Rework. So what are our goals with the Warwick update? Currently Warwick is very beginner friendly. We actually want to embrace that and push it even further than it is now. We want Warwick's gameplay to actually teach new junglers how to be an effective jungler. Right now Warwick can’t gank until level 6, but what if Warwick's kit actually encouraged players to gank often and early? We also have heard loud and clear that player think Warwick’s kit is kind of boring and outdated. While we don’t want to raise Warwick’s skill floor, we do want to increase his skill ceiling a bit and add more depth to his gameplay. We also want to bring Warwick's art and thematics up to modern Riot standards by giving him a proper place in our world. We think violence is an important theme for Warwick and we want to see how far we can push that thematic.
Let’s talk about Yorick! Yorick just hit PBE and should be raising undead armies against hapless players all over the world, but let’s talk about what the goals of the project were. Once we got the team together on Yorick, we started to break down what we thought was absolutely important for him. We read tons of player feedback and had countless meetings. At the end of all that, the three things we thought were the core of Yorick were that he summons Ghouls, that he is a beefy juggernaut with a shovel, and that he is kind of the “good guy” of the Shadow Isles (or as good as a Shadow Isles character can be). We feel pretty confident that we hit our goals, and we can’t wait for you guys to get your hands on him so you can let us know how you feel.
I’m happy to announce that after looking into a few projects, we finally got a solid direction on the next project that Team B will roll onto after Yorick. It's the champion people love to forget, Galio! Currently Galio has a lot of problems. His theme, gameplay, and art hasn’t aged very well at all. This gives us a pretty wide canvas to paint on and Galio will likely be our largest transformation to date. So what are our goals with Galio? With Galio we want to see if we can really deliver on a mid lane focused tank/mage , as we think that opens up a lot of interesting strategies (not that he has to be played exclusively mid of course). We also think that him being some sort of statue/construct is super important as well as his strong ties to Demacia. DEMACIAAAAAAAA! (Had to get that out of my system.)
So that’s what Champion Update has been up to and where we are headed in the future. Would love to hear where you guys thought we did or didn’t hit our goals, as well as what you think about our goals on future projects.
Product Lead of Champion Updates