With the 2014 season winding down, we’re once again just around the corner from the time of chaos that is preseason! Rest assured this isn’t chaos for the sake of chaos or disruption for the sake of disruption; the preseason is an important period of downtime between ranked and professional play to set the foundation for the next year of League’s evolution. Over the coming days we’ll publish a series of dev blogs going in-depth with our preseason changes, including the jungle (again!), objectives, and items. While these won’t cover 100% of what’s coming, we wanted to cover the big topics before getting to the fun. For now, let’s kick things off on a higher level.
Preseason is our chance to set the stage. It’s the beginning, not the end.
There will be a lot of changes to League over a short period of time and, with so many variables at play, we’re expecting the game to be disrupted, imperfect, and require a lot of tweaking over time. In other words, while we’re confident we’re taking the game in the right general direction, we’ll correct course as needed as we see the changes unfold.
While we’ve been testing preseason internally for months, no matter what we do, players will have put hundreds or thousands (nearly millions?) of times more hours into these changes in the first week than we ever could. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’re all able to do with this slew of new mechanics and content, and we’ll be looking for your feedback.
On to the good stuff!
This preseason, we’re looking for ways to support more strategic diversity in League of Legends. If your eyebrow is raised right now, you’re not alone - ‘strategic diversity’ is a pretty vague and abstract idea. It’s not just a buzzword to us, but a deep focus of our design philosophy going forward, so to keep everyone on the same page we’ll be breaking down what strategic diversity means to us and how we’re working to increase it in this series of posts.
When we talk about strategic diversity, it’s a conversation about the ways you look to win - the different paths to victory your team can take. Mechanical skill (insane Lee Sin ward kicks) and tactical decision making (funneling through the jungle to set up a perfect Orianna ult) are important elements of skill in League. We’ve focused a lot in the past at ensuring that tactical and mechanical mastery are powerful and, while we don’t want to change that, we do want to enhance the impact and variety of strategic gameplay.
Through the years, players have discovered a bunch of viable strategies like teamfight-focused (deathball) strats, split pushing, siege / poke comps, objective control, and more. In the past, when one of the aforementioned strategies was so dominant it crowded out all others we didn’t have a whole lot of options to bring it back in line other than nerfing the champions that were critical to its success. Think Shen back in his split push heyday or, more recently, Ziggs and stall comps. Since we believe that League is at it’s best when multiple strategies are battling it out on the Rift, we had to target champions to bring strategies in line to allow others to emerge. We’re hoping the path being set by the 2015 pre-season will allow us to create an ecosystem where multiple strategies can prosper… and kill each other.
A common theme you’ll notice is a focus on specialized offense but generalized defense. What this means is your offensive strategy is going to be strengthened by specializing into it. If you want to opt into a specific strategy, you’re best off picking a team comp and purchasing items that enable this strategy. For defending against this specialized offense, however, we’re going to provide players with the tools they need in a way that makes counter-strategies available to nearly any team comp (for example, an item that will let you engage on an elusive poke comp). This is the intent of many of the changes to objectives or items; they are available to most comps most of the time and can be leveraged as needed. This allows us to add more power to strategic decisions without games just being decided in champion select.
Another major focus is on deepening the demands on players and champions so that there are more ways for a champion to express strength and power. This will be most apparent in the jungle where we want demands to be greater than “can you gank super hard?” We’re looking to re-introduce value to junglers who can clear quickly or safely (think Season 2) as well as keeping the value of junglers who hit lanes hard, fast and early.
We’ll be experimenting with changes to objectives (towers, dragon, and baron), the jungle (a new camp, spawn times, difficulty, items, rewards… well, all of it really), items (more situationally powerful actives!) and some core systems (stats per level, death timers, how health / mana regen works). It’s a lot to take in and will take even more time to master in-game, but we’ll walk you through it as we go deeper into the design decisions behind these changes in the coming days. Every change is geared towards laying a foundation which can support more strategic diversity - no matter which champ you choose on the path to victory.