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Champion Roadmap, June 2017

Urgot, Aatrox, Eve, and a shadow on the horizon.

By Reav3

With many people asking about the next “State of Champion Update” blog, I thought it would be good to start doing these more often (and also incorporate new champions, as well). We’ve got quite a few changes to talk about, so let’s get into it.

As the Pendulum Swings

Over time, we’ve released a ton of new champions—with Xayah and Rakan we’ve reached 136. This is awesome, but as more new champions get added to the game our older champions continue to get outdated. Demand for VGUs (visual and gameplay updates) has also been slowly increasing over the years. We currently have two VGU teams and three new champion teams. In the future, we will have five teams that can do either new champions or VGUs, depending on what we feel makes the most sense for that point in time.

Champs like Azir ended up pushed by the wayside with the “full class update” approach, so we’re shifting our focus.

As we move forward, you should expect to see us slightly ramp up the amount of VGUs we do and slightly ramp down the amount of new champions we make. We will continue to evaluate and tweak this ratio going forward. So where does that leave the Roster team?

The Future of Class Updates

Class updates like the recent tank update or the assassin update in preseason have been a bit of a mixed bag since their inception. The pros and cons for class updates looks something like this:

Pros:

  • Creates clear strengths and weakness for a class of champions
  • Doing an entire class at once allows us to do larger systemic and item changes for the class, including making new items
  • Creates champions with sharper strategic identities within a class of champions
  • Informs future champions by demonstrating what a good version of a champion in a class looks like
  • Some players felt the big seasonal changes were exciting and shook up the meta in a positive way

Cons:

  • Doing a large batch of updates at once made it hard to predict outcomes, which led to more risk of flaws in the designs
  • Big seasonal patches had so much change that they led to extended periods of imbalance
  • Some players felt that so much change in one patch was overbearing
  • As with all our reworks (big and small), changes always have the risk of alienating some of the champions’ current mains

We’ve generally felt that the pros have outweighed the cons, especially the benefits we got from better understanding and defining some of the classes that weren’t very defined (like juggernauts, for example). After the recent tanks update we got together to talk about divers and future classes. We came to the conclusion that while many of the classes still had specific champions in need of work, most of the classes themselves were pretty well defined and not really in need of huge new systemic changes or items.

...we'll start to prioritize reworks based on need rather than on a champion's specific class.

Class updates also caused us to neglect champions that needed reworks but weren’t in a specific class, like Azir. After reflecting on this, we’ve decided to discontinue the large seasonal class updates and focus more on individual champions that need work. We will be releasing these individually rather than in grouped updates since there really isn’t a strong reason to package them without the systemic changes to go along with them.

As a result, we’ll start to prioritize reworks based on need rather than on a champion’s specific class. That means you can expect to see more updates similar to the recent Rek’Sai rework in the future. The current Roster team will be joining the Live Gameplay team later this year to focus on those kinds of updates. In fact, the Roster team is  already working on a pretty large gameplay update to one of our most requested champions.

Return to the Darkin Blade, Aatrox

When Aatrox was released, a ton of players picked him and were super excited to try him out on the Rift. Unfortunately, the promise of Aatrox’s art and theme really wasn’t delivered on in his gameplay. Aatrox continually tops our player request charts for a gameplay update, so we want to take this time to revisit the Darkin Blade and try to truly deliver on the fantasy that Aatrox’s art and theme suggest—a demonic warrior who craves bloodshed.

This will likely be the largest pure gameplay update we have ever done on a champion, with every single ability being evaluated and updated. We’re still early in development on Aatrox but there are already some promising design directions we’re playing with. The update is still a ways off, but we wanted to start talking about it now since we know it’s high up on players’ wishlists.

Rebuilding a Monster, Urgot

With Urgot getting closer to release we can start to talk about some details that have solidified over the last couple months. The current version of Urgot is a pretty unique champion—a marksman/tank hybrid. We like that Urgot is kind of weird champion and we want to preserve that, but we also want to focus his identity a little bit more. Once we got deep into ideation we began to play around with the idea of a “Ranged Juggernaut.” After some initial iterations the direction showed a lot of promise and also opened a very unique place in the Juggernaut roster.

Also, yes, he has shotgun knees.

Embracing Agony, Evelynn

Not much new to say about Evelynn that I didn’t say in my last blog. Expect Evelynn to be more of a “modernization” rather than a complete reboot, similar to Warwick’s VGU. Evelynn should still be the same sexy, stealthy, shadow assassin we all know and love, but with new tricks that allow her to function as the assassin she is meant to be in the modern league environment. Like all our VGUs, Evelynn will also be getting some charming new visuals and lore to go with the new gameplay tools we are giving her. She’s still a little ways off so expect more details when we get closer to her release.

A Shadow on the Horizon

We have a bunch of new champions in various stages of development. I’m not going to go over all of the champions in production (spoilers), just the one that has been infesting my mind lately — a new carry champion that we think will perform well in the jungle. After Ivern, we wanted to try our hand at a more aggressive, damage-focused champion that should feel at home in the jungle. They will also be our first transformation champion since Gnar, but this take on transformation will be unlike any champion we have ever made. I don’t want to say much more than that for now, but keep an eye out for more info soon.

That’s it for now. I’m going to try and put these out more often than in the past so hopefully it won’t be too long before the next one. We are getting close to deciding what the next big VGU after Evelynn will be, so I should be able to talk about that soon as well as more about the another new champion in the works.

Let me know what you think in the comments below and I will try to answer as many questions as I can. Thanks!

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ORIGINS: Riven