Road to Pre-Season: Gameplay Systems Update

By Gentleman Gustaf

It’s pre-season again, and that gives us time to work on overhauling the systemic aspects of League, from the jungle to items to masteries. This year, when we think about what we want to improve about our game systems, the word that comes to mind is “adaptability”. We want to introduce new gameplay elements that cause every game to feel different, and force players to adapt to those differences. On the other hand, we want to give players the ability to make clear playstyle choices which have measurable gameplay differences.


Let’s start with the jungle. We feel that the jungle has a lot more room to feel intent-driven, and less like a solvable system with a logical next step. Our overall goal is to make sure that junglers have more elements to interact with, and thus have to make choices about which ones are priorities.


When we originally gave camps Smite rewards, we wanted to allow players to decide how they used Smite to secure certain benefits. We think that system was a good start, but over time players broke into two groups: those who have basically “solved” Smiting, and those who haven’t. This makes the whole experience feel pretty deterministic and doesn’t allow for much expression of individual mastery. Moreover, tying that decision making to Smite makes players who take the PvP smite have to budget their smites a bit too much. If you’re setting up for a teamfight, you want to Smite raptors for vision control, the opposing ADC during a teamfight, and maybe dragon afterwards.

Enter Plants. We’re introducing interactive plants into the game and spawning them with some degree of variance. These plants should give junglers - and to some degree, other players - impactful decisions to make, without tying those choices to Smite.


Jungle optimization is an interesting skill, but right now one of the strongest routes is just going straight through the jungle in order. We want to introduce more variance between the camps, so players can have stronger preferences about which camps to prioritize, rather than merely clearing whatever is nearby and available. When it came down to it, that degree of variance was incompatible with our Smite rewards, which often established clear “best” and “worst” camps.

Protective Itemization

Aegis of the Legion has been a perennial struggle to balance around. Aura items are *strong*. After all, your team benefits up to five times as much from those stats as you do personally. On the other hand, it can be hard to notice the impact of an aura. As a result, auras have ended up overtuned to the point where they become mandatory. We want players to have itemization choices, and Aegis was simply blocking that goal.

On the other hand, Aegis of the Legion is one of the few items that allows you to make an ally harder to kill, a player fantasy we want to make sure to serve. While Aegis exists, most forms of protection will be overshadowed by the existence of its aura. Even if we made support items stronger to compensate, junglers would become the new Aegis purchasers (as has happened in past metas). So for the good of itemization as a whole, we’re killing its aura stats.

In its place, we’re creating several new protective items that are more distinct, allowing different supports to express different playstyles and goals. Instead of purchasing a generic protection item, we want supports to be able to look at a host of items and think “which one protects my ally in a way which aligns with my playstyle?”

We already have a few of those items. Mikael’s Crucible protects an ally from CC and Ardent Censer helps you keep an ally healed up. But we think there’s a lot we can do to sharpen those items’ identities, while creating new items to appeal to protective supports, whether they’re tanks, disruptors, or healers.


Finally, there’s masteries. Our updated mastery system was aimed at making masteries meaningful to your playstyle. We wanted each player and champion to feel like there was a mastery at each level that appealed to their role and playstyle.

Part of that meant having multiple choices at each level of the tree. We shipped with a few holes in the tree, and we’re taking this opportunity to fill those holes in. However, there were also a few outliers we felt like we could take a crack at making more satisfying to use, as well as more specific in who wanted to take them. Overall, we want players to have masteries that make them feel “that’s what I want”, not “I guess this is optimal”.

We’ll be unveiling more details about these changes soon, so stay tuned for Preseason 2017!

3 years ago

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Preseason 2017

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