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With 2018 well and kicked-off—and Irelia’s blades flying around the live servers—I thought it’d be a great time to talk more about what the Champions Team is planning this year. But before we get to the specifics, let’s take a step back and look more broadly at our plans for the future.
On New and Old Champions
Last year, we decided to combine the Champion Update Team and the New Champions Team into one big squad. One of the major reasons we combined forces was so that we’d have more flexibility in our release schedule and be able to better adapt to the needs of players and League over time. As the game has evolved, more and more champions have become outdated and in need of large-scale reworks. At the same time, with 140 champions in the game, the pressure on new champions to give players new and exciting ways to play League has grown massively. Be it with Kayn’s permanent transformation, Zoe’s ability to steal summoners spells, or Xayah and Rakan’s unique synergy, our most successful champions have been the ones that let players experience things they have never done before in League.
The bar is high for new champs, and moving forward, every new champion will offer unique ways to play. As such, we will be slightly ramping down the amount of new champions we release in order to make sure every release is breaking the boundaries of the game. That said, we know it’s important to keep League modern and fresh, so we’ll be ramping up our VGU releases, which will also allow us to catch up on the amount of champions currently feeling neglected or outdated. We are pretty excited about this shift, but please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Never Turn Your Back on the Sea
Let’s reset a bit and wade right into the next champion we’re adding to the list. We felt it was time to execute on a new support with a darker, deeper thematic than most of our support cast. We also wanted to create an aggressive playmaker, someone who doesn’t just save a drowning ally, but who forces their enemies to drown themselves… by their own hands.
Keep your health high, your eyes to the sea, and pray you aren’t on the list.
Death is Only the Beginning
The last time I talked about Aatrox, I said he was only going to get a gameplay update, but as we dove further into his new kit’s direction of a “greatsword duelist that relentlessly pursues his foes,” we realized that the feeling of playing the new Aatrox wasn’t exactly matching his current visuals. Aatrox’s new design felt more powerful, more weighted, and overall just more imposing to play against. We felt this called for some model updates to match his gameplay feeling and to make him look the part. That being said, it won’t be a full VGU as we aren’t giving him 100% new animations or remaking all of his skins, though there will be small tweaks to the skins to match his base model update. We will, however, be giving Aatrox all new, brutal VO to bring him in line with our newer champions, because who doesn’t want to hear Aatrox physically and verbally destroy his enemies.
Tools of the Trade
So let’s go rogue and talk some more about the upcoming Akali VGU. In the last roadmap, I mentioned that we wanted to preserve her Shroud as the ability that makes her unique and helps her stand out in the Assassin class. Though the baseline functionality is the same, we’ve made some pretty dramatic changes to Akali’s Shroud so that her play pattern of “hitting hard, repositioning, and then striking again” is more engaging for Akali players. Outside of her Shroud, we felt it was important to maintain her high mobility, especially since it fits really well with her ninja theme, so don’t expect that to vanish.
Another thing we wanted to maintain about her kit was her dual scaling, as that gives Akali flexibility and really makes her feel like a champion who has mastered a wide range of weapons—both magical and physical. And speaking of her thematic, we’ll be extending her current lore and looking at what her life looks like a couple years down the road when she strikes out on her own, ready to show the world her skill as a ninja.
The True Power of Friendship
It’s finally time to let the Yeti out of the bag and start talking about the next big VGU we have planned. Nunu and Willump have aged very poorly over time, and as such we’ll be rebuilding them from the ground up. We won’t be throwing everything away, as the dynamic duo absolutely have a few iconic abilities worth keeping, but thematically, we feel Nunu and Willump belong in a more whimsical, light-hearted space. We want to thaw out these two’s relationship and boil down what their friendship really means to each other.
Nunu and Willump should capture the childlike feeling of having your first snowball fight or warming up next to a close friend on a cold winter night. It’s not all snowballs and hot chocolate though, as when our heroes backs are against the wall, Willump will make sure his enemies learn the true power of a Freljordian behemoth.
That’s it for today! Let me know what you think in the comments below.