State of the Season: Coming up on mid-season

By Meddler
Hey folks,

It’s time for another check-in from the dev team on the ‘State of the Season’ - an experimental dev blog where we run through some of our thoughts on different parts of the game. In the sections below we’ll cover how we feel recent work (pre-season changes, new champs, reworks etc) has gone and current issues we see.

We’ll also be talking about our plans for a mid-season patch. Mid-season’s going to be like a smaller version of a pre-season, with significant changes focused on both short term problems and longer term opportunities.

Note that things outside of the core SR experience, like Hextech Crafting, Dynamic Queue, Rotating Game modes, etc, won’t be covered here. This will be focused on the part of LoL where you’re playing on Summoner’s Rift.

Andrei “Meddler” van Roon, Lead Designer


Champion Updates:


Right now:

Shen’s our most recent update and so far seems to be both fairly balanced and has improved game health compared to his previous kit. Overall, however, we don’t think he’s completely hit the mark thematically, with the floating sword feeling a bit disconnected from his fantasy. It’s not something we have plans to change - there are other champions that would benefit significantly more from having update time spent on them - but a lesson for when we take on future projects.

Taric’s going to be our next significant update and is close to release. He’s a full update, with new abilities, models, spell effects, voiceover, etc. Our goals with Taric have been about adding more skill expression and distinctiveness to his kit, with an accompanying update to his aesthetics. We’ve worked to maintain Taric’s core gameplay contributions (he still stuns, protects, etc) and his fundamental personality. He should look and sound a lot better though, while feeling like a more cohesive part of Runeterra.

As far as the Marksman update from preseason goes, we’re pretty happy with how distinct the different marksmen have remained. They’re doing different things in different ways. That said, some of them - Corki, Graves and Quinn, specifically - are a little too strong, and that strength’s leading them to be successful regardless of position. We like the idea of classes being able to occupy a range of positions, and are happy seeing those champs played outside of a duo lane, but we hoped to see them there for specific reasons. Right now these three are just good universal choices, with strong laning and team fight contributions.

As a side note, we’d eventually like to get more non-Marksmen into the farming position in a duo lane. Doing it without the right systems and support in place (items, ways for other classes to take turrets, etc), however, is a lesson we learned with Mordekaiser and something we don’t want to feel so forced.


Future:

Updates to a number of mages will be the single biggest part of the mid-season patch. Those updates will be aimed at giving those mages more distinctive gameplay, better ‘playing against’ experiences and more cohesion with their themes. We’ll be making moderate sized changes to 6 mages (Vel’Koz, Zyra, Malzahar, Vladimir, Brand, Cassiopeia) and smaller changes to a number of others. Those smaller changes, by the way, will generally be about amplifying existing strengths and weaknesses using a champion’s current kit, rather than significantly changing abilities. We’re still locking down exactly which mages, but the likely candidates are: Veigar, Annie, Ziggs, Anivia, Xerath, Syndra, Fiddlesticks, with room for a few more.


New (ish) Champions:


Illaoi:

Illaoi’s been quiet for a while - in part since she came out during the preseason, and so was harder to assess than most new releases. We’ll be making some modifications to her E in particular, aimed at reducing frustration and lack of options when playing against the Vessel state. That might potentially give us room to buff her late game, given she performs pretty well in lane but feels like she falls off a bit too much later on.




Jhin:

Jhin’s looking a bit strong at present, but he seems to be in a pretty good position in terms of overall style of play. We’ll be trimming a little power off, then assessing whether we need to do further work. At present, Jhin’s Q’s doing a bit too much work and the correct play is to sometimes not use E much - or even put a point into it early.




Aurelion Sol:

Is finally out! Initial reaction so far is that he’s difficult to play, and we’re seeing a lot of young dragons struggling on the Rift. That said, once he gets a number of games under his belt, Aurelion Sol’s success ramps up past almost any champion release thus far. We’re shaving some power early and then we’ll assess again thereafter.


Items:


Right now:

We’re happy with how Marksmen item variety’s stayed significantly higher than it was before the pre-season. Overall balance seems reasonable too. It’s been good to see Zz’Rot Portal getting some use (finally), though it’s probably still too strong. If a niche item is being used all the time, its stats are almost certainly too high.

We’ve also seen mixed defense/offense builds be too effective (Titanic, Maw, Sterak’s). There’s value in not requiring champions to be all offense or defense, like allowing for flexibility to game needs, less binary ways to shut down a fight (teams being able to choose between protecting a single glass cannon vs. fielding multiple offensive threats), and potentially more calculated risks in personal build paths (if I feel I’m tanky enough, can I build an offensive item? What if they pull ahead?). That said, having a ‘default’ offensive/defensive core build can lead to really flat experiences, pushing out the champions who don’t benefit from said items and nullifying those who rely on burst damage to take out high-priority targets. We’d like to see champions (like Graves) who opt into the mixed defense/offense build make some tradeoffs for the extra survivability.


Future:

We’ve got some changes to AP items coming in the mid-season, with a focus on better meeting CDR needs for mages and making mana components in items more functional by themselves. We’ll also be making changes to both Devourer and Rageblade, both of which have created some balance and game health issues with their current designs.


Game Pacing & Objectives


Objectives:

We’ll be making adjustments to a number of objectives in the mid-season patch. At present, a number of objectives aren’t offering sufficiently powerful, or appropriately focused rewards. That leads to teams focusing primarily, or purely, on turrets. Objectives like Dragon, Rift Herald, Red, and Blue Buff should be valued and contested significantly in most games, and we’ll be making adjustments to their rewards and encounters as a result.




Death Timers:

We’ll be lowering death timers a little shortly, targeting the 30-45 minute period. In an ideal world, we’d like there to be some tension - losing a teamfight equating to real loss - but not losing an entire lane of objectives and potentially the game on one bad fight.




Turrets:

Turret diving’s a bit too safe for the aggressors, so we’re experimenting with having turret damage to champions ramp up harder on subsequent shots (if you didn’t know, turrets hit harder the more they hit champions). Early game pushing, in pro play especially, also looks a too strong so we’re considering making turrets a little more resistant to damage early on.


Final Thoughts:

Overall we’re happy with the diversity we’re seeing in team compositions and how players are adapting to the shifting landscape. Now that we’re getting comfortable with these ‘roster’ updates (juggernauts, marksmen, and mages), our hope is to continue on this path with larger, targeted updates aimed at making each champion more distinct and have a reason to be played. Where we’re hoping to improve is on the objective-level pacing of the game - providing more reasons to be fighting on the Rift and opportunities to counter your opponent's strategies. You should see more in the mid-season, so we’ll talk then.

If you’ve got followup questions and/or comments, we’ll be discussing things in English for a bit in a Dev Corner thread that can be found here.


3 years ago


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