State of Gameplay: Pre-Worlds Updates and Beyond

By Meddler

Hi folks,

It’s been a while since our last update on LoL’s gameplay, so we wanted to share some thoughts around the current state of the game and our plans for the next few months. As with previous updates, this will be focused on gameplay specifically -- so things like towers, dragons, champions etc. -- rather than features like the new client, matchmaking, skins and so on.

For anyone that missed it, the previous post in this series: State of the Season: Mid-Season Follow-Up


The Game Right Now:

Tower Changes

Some of the biggest changes we’ve made recently have been to towers in the early game. That involved adding bonus gold for first tower destruction of the game and the removal of the fortification buff from bot lane towers. Our goal there is to create more early game interaction, in pro play in particular. You can find more detailed discussion here and here.

At time of writing we haven’t seen pro-play with these changes, so we’re still waiting to assess them in that context. In regular play though we have seen a bit of impact so far. As per the graph below bot lane towers are now slightly more likely to be the first ones destroyed, with both mid and top towers slightly less likely. We feel that still leaves each lane’s influence over tower first destruction around an appropriate level. Bot lane is significantly more likely to decide first tower down than other lanes; it’s got twice as many champions in it on average, though. Mid lane doesn’t go down first often, but champs playing mid roam a lot and so often determine whether or not a tower elsewhere goes down.

Percentage of turrets taken first in a game of League of Legends. Bot lane turret is the left two bars, mid lane turret the middle two bars, and top lane turret is the right two bars. The left bars are pre-6.15 changes, the right bars are post-6.15 changes.

We’ve also got a small change to tower AI still planned for before Worlds. Calls for help (towers aggroing onto enemies that attack champions near them) will function if the enemy champ’s under the tower but their victim’s further away. Example below with Varus and Singed. Previously, Varus could have safely shot at Singed, since while Varus was under an enemy tower himself, Singed was outside the tower’s range and the tower didn’t notice the aggression. With this change however, the tower will hear the call for help and start attacking Varus.

Tower memory by contrast, where towers remember champions they’ve recently been targeting (not just their current target) and prioritize them if they lose their current target, is something we’ll be looking into later. We think it’s got promise as a way to add appropriate risk to aggro juggling; it’s too disruptive for right now though.


Elemental Drakes

Cloud Drake seems to be in an appropriate spot in terms of perceived power after its recent buff. Statistically it’s now also quite strong, though not excessively so. That puts all four elemental drakes in a good spot both perception and stats wise. As a result we don’t have any current plans for dragon changes.

We have seen some feedback that Elder drake sometimes doesn’t feel worth taking. Elder drake’s not intended to be an every-game thing though, more a good option if you’ve got a lot of drake stacks and decent map control (or willingness to teamfight).


Next couple of patches (6.17 and 6.18)

Game Balance in 6.17 and 6.18

Worlds is going to be played on patch 6.18, so our focus for 6.17 and 6.18 is more on balance for pro play than usual. We’re going for small changes to a number of champions, aiming to increase champion diversity in pro play by either chipping a bit of power off excessively strong champs (e.g. Ashe, Jhin, Gragas, Trundle etc) or adding power to champions that are almost in the right spot (e.g. Jayce, Draven, Malphite etc). We’re not looking to do major work on any given champion in this period, these are patches that should be about tweaking things rather than significant change.

Depending on how the 6.15 tower changes play out it’s possible we might adjust those a bit. That would be on the level of slight changes to first destruction reward (+/- 100g?), duration of fortification (+/- 1 minute?) etc, rather than larger systemic changes.


Game Clarity

We’ve been looking a lot recently at improving game clarity, with goals like removing visual noise and improving team communication. A couple projects along those lines are already out, others are coming pretty soon. They include things like cleaning up minimap icons (e.g. Corki’s Hextech Munitions showing up for all players, or the size of Rek’Sai’s tunnels), a clear ‘this unit’s invulnerable’ indicator for Taric ult, Kindred ult, etc, more things to ping in team chat (death timers, objective respawn timers, etc), the option to fade out player names/club tags during combat, clarifying circle ground indicators (e.g. do Corki’s allies need to see his Q radius, or does it just add extra noise?), and more.


Between the World’s Patch and Pre-Season (6.19-6.21)

6.19-6.21 will be a period of low change. We want to keep the game pretty similar to the patch Worlds is being played on so that the game you’re playing is really close to the game you’re watching. It’s also a time when we’re pretty focused on the development of the upcoming pre-season.

There’ll still be balance changes during this period -- they’ll be lighter than usual though. In terms of other stuff it’s highly likely the Yorick rework will be out around here. A new champion’s also likely.


Pre-Season (6.22-6.23)

So, speaking of pre-season, it’s currently scheduled for 6.22 or 6.23. One of the big focuses there is assassins, with moderate-sized changes to four assassin kits and smaller changes (mainly numbers adjustments) to a few others. We’ll also be making some changes to items to support assassin needs.

Additionally, we’ll be looking into other issues, like how much of a mandatory buy Aegis can be on supports, gold/xp rewards for farming versus roaming, Ghostblade’s tendency to crowd out other items etc. Some Masteries adjustments are likely, too.

We’re working on some other projects as well for pre-season; it’s too early to talk about those yet though (still experimental).


A couple of post Pre-Season things

After the pre-season, we’ll look into potentially changing to 10 bans in draft games. We’re just starting to gather feedback on that from both regular players and pros. We know there’s some definite interest in more bans. There are some potential issues we’d want to make sure we were able to address though before adding extra bans, including:

  • We feel champ select’s too long already. We’d want to find ways to not increase its duration further as a result (e.g. multiple people from the same team banning at the same time?).
  • We want to ensure that increased ability to target ban a position doesn’t create issues with how many champions a player needs to be able to play well (extreme scenario, 11 champs for one position - is that appropriate?)
  • Adding four more bans increases the number of champions needed to play ranked by four. Is that a problem? A benefit?

We also want to take a look at the Rune system sometime next year. We’ve been doing some work to address problems with it, via changes like the permanent sale on common T3 runes, availability of T2 runes from level 1 and T2 runes getting discounted to 1 IP each. The system still has some problems fundamental to its design, however. We’re interested in overhauling runes substantially as a result. We’ve been holding off on doing that until the client update’s out, with that coming along well though we’re hoping to make runes a focus in 2017 sometime (mid-year at the earliest).


And that’s it for now. Hope there’s some stuff of interest in here. If you’ve got thoughts on this sort of post, questions, or just feedback in general please do throw them into the associated Dev Corner post. I’ll be responding to stuff in there when time permits throughout the day.


5 months ago