Riot Reav3 On Recent League of Legends Champion Designs
Ryan “Reav3” Mireles, one of the lead League of Legends champion designers at Riot, has just given us a thorough explanation of the many nuanced questions and thought processes that go into all of Riot’s champion designs. Moreover, he touched upon the reasoning behind some of the most crucial choices and also what players can expect in the near future. All in all, this most recent dev post sheds a lot of light on many key aspects that go into designing a champion, so if you’re into this sort of thing (like most of us are), make sure to give it a read!
Why Is This Being Talked About?
This dev post needed to be written for a rather simple reason: a large number of players have been complaining about the lack of gruesome, monster-like champions. Naturally, this hasn’t just happened by accident — it was an intentional design shift by the entire Champions team. New champions are just one of the many ways in which the folks over at Riot keep League of Legends champion designs fresh and engaging. But for that to work, these new champions need to be picked and played — the more often the better. If that doesn’t happen, then someone hasn’t done his or her job properly.
Now, not all champions need to hit this goal — some picks simply have to be more niche than others — but the point still stands. As Reav3 puts it: “niche champions can deeply resonate with a smaller number of players in a way broadly appealing champions could never do.” So with that in mind, they’ve decided (all the way back in 2017) to ship more broadly appealing champions. After a ton of research (and equal amounts of surveying), they realized that humanoid champions resonate more deeply with players. Thematic resonance, therefore, is what matters most (along with actual and perceived power, per Reav3).
Champion play rates also differ from region to region. Jinx, for instance, is a lot more popular in western regions than eastern ones. Conversely, Xin Zhao and Jarvan are more popular in China than anywhere else. There are outliers, though. Aurelion Sol, for example, gets high marks and praise for his visuals but is rarely played because of his somewhat disjointed ability kit. As a result, he’s a lot more niche “than a dragon-themed champion ought to be.”
So for 2018, the Champions Team set out to create 70% broadly appealing champions (i.e. humanoid in nature) and 30% niche ones (VGUs also count). More recently, though, the Champions Team has been trying to create unique humanoid champions that are inspired by different cultures around the world. They want “all players to see themselves in the games they play” — a commendable, inclusive approach, no doubt. To pull this off (in a natural way, at least), these champions simply have to look like our own species.
There’s a (Slight) Shift on the Horizon
With that in mind, Reav3 says they’ve leaned a bit too heavily on “straight-up humans” over the last couple of years. So, to balance things out, they’ll release a full-blown creature in 2022 — one that’ll be a lot darker and monstrous in nature. So if you’re a fan of champions like Rek’Sai, Vel’Koz, Skarner, Aurelion Sol, and the like, you finally have a reason to celebrate!