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/dev: Update on Runes Reforged

What’s working, what’s not, and what’s next?

Hello friends! Fearless here to talk about how we see the Runes update from a systemic perspective. I’ll call out what has landed well, what needs some work in the upcoming months, and what we’re looking to do in the slightly-more-distant future.

What’s Working Well

Runes Reforged has landed more smoothly than we’d expected. In terms of gameplay, we’re seeing a lot of diversity in picks and larger strategies. We’re also quite surprised (and happy) by how much players are investing into theorycrafting, exploration, and discussion around Runes. While not without its strong champions and powerful runes, we are seeing a lot of diversity, with many champions having multiple rune pages, and many runes finding a number of different champions that make strong use of them.

Notably, we saw a lot of attachment to a number of runes in the Inspiration tree, which as a style we knew had weirder, more unique offerings. Kleptomancy has been a clear player favorite, but Unsealed Spellbook as well as some minor runes—like Future’s Market and Biscuit Delivery—have also had exciting use cases in both standard play and All-Stars.

We’ve noticed players are better understanding their decisions in the system and are more able to express the trade-offs they’re opting into. We’ve gotten a lot of extra clarity and were able to make some late revisions because of player feedback from our design articles, PBE testers, and social media. Thanks to everyone who dedicated time to help make runes a better experience.

What Isn’t Working as Well

We’ve seen some pain with stat bonuses feeling very restrictive, pushing people out of rune paths that they’d otherwise be excited about. For example, we know some players really don’t want to take attack speed on many fighters, even if they’d like to take Precision Keystones. In development, the style bonuses were intended to be a small amount of power to differentiate between paths, and we’ll be examining other ways to give out the stats that don’t diminish the ability to make decisions.

We’re also seeing some issues with Resolve in general. We’ve aware that it doesn’t feel great for squishy characters to splash into the Resolve tree, even when they’re worried about their lane. We want Resolve to be a place for any champion to grab a little extra defense when they need it, and the Conditioning slot is probably the first place we’ll make improvements. We’re looking into big and small changes to improve this slot, but no timeline yet on when we’ll ship those changes.

We know that Resolve has a lot of different champions to support, and fighters especially feel like they aren’t as welcome as pure tanks. They feel less empowered by multiplicative durability options, and Resolve is lacking on elements that read as greedy, aggressive options that fighters need—even if they also need a substantial amount of durability. This issue ties into style bonuses, multiple slots, and Keystones, so it’s likely this will be a project we take on over a number of patches this year.

The Future

Runes still have a lot of room for improvements, and we’re working hard to make sure Runes are not only a great system in-game, but also that they’re a great experience in the client.

On the gameplay side, we will be actively adding, tweaking, and rebuilding runes in the months and years ahead. Along with some of the targets mentioned above, we’re also looking to improve runes that just aren’t delivering on fun. Unsealed Spellbook and Minion Dematerializer are both in states where we don’t like their impact when they are effective, and we want to find versions of these runes that are more enjoyable and healthy for the game.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on the impacts from Runes as the system becomes more understood and players begin to better optimize it. We always see some amount of change to game time and pacing during preseason, but given the impacts on early game power, we’re very intent on understanding where the game pacing has changed. We’ll also be looking into any shifts in combat pacing, especially if there are any dramatic changes in the average time it takes to kill particular types of champions.

Finally, we have a lot of usability and experience improvements for building and managing pages. We’re working on drag and drop for the runes inventory, mass deletion for those extra pages we’ve all built, and even a fancy high-res mode with some extra polish for players who want luxurious visual feedback while they build their pages.

In Closing

Building and shipping Runes was a long process, and we’re committed to improving and expanding Runes for many seasons to come. We wanted to tell you where we’re planning to go next, but we also want to hear what runes improvements matter the most to you. Hit us up in the comments (or any of the normal social media channels) to let us know what changes would be most exciting for you.

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