League of Legends is one of gaming’s media juggernauts. When it debuted in 2009, I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me that a concept that began as a Warcraft III map was the basis for many games, many fun music videos, and live K-pop performances. Will be , and of course, a hit Netflix show.
With the league continuing to expand, you can assume that League of Legends, which is honoring its 13th anniversary, is heading into its retirement phase. But the league is as good as it was before. Constant balance changes, new champions and the complete resale of old favorites mean there’s almost always something new to learn.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t live issues. It had over 180 million monthly players, with Riot reporting at the end of 2021 it would be impossible to please everyone. But after years of experience, the development team has become incredibly skilled at interpreting and responding to these issues, often very quickly and with a good amount of communication. I think the league and its overall community have been in the best shape for many years.
Riot’s Netflix series Arcane won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation. (Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)
What’s happening recently?
The Durability Update, which Riot deployed in May, has been a divisive topic since it was implemented. In one of the league’s biggest mid-season patches, the update aimed to tanker the champions after causing too much damage to creep into every area. Each champion in the game was given more HP, armor, and magic resistance, while healing, shields, and everything else that could be used to build and maintain your health pool during fights were rebalanced. Most of which were made more effective to live in. Corresponding to the increased health pool.
The goal of this update was to attempt to lengthen the fight and reduce the frequency of one-shot opponents before they had a chance to react. The impact on the meta was almost instant and mostly delivered on promise, with fights spread into long engagements and greatly diminishing the ability to one-shot an opponent.
I think the only realistic solution is to continue to balance champions individually.
But one major consequence of this update was that most people, including Riot, weren’t looking forward to it. As every champion is now a tanker from the get-go, it became difficult to secure a kill during the opening minutes of matches. At the top levels, this meant that the meta was shifted in favor of champions, which reached their peak in the late game such as Gangplank and Jinx, because of the specific counter-particularity of shutting them down early when weak. was not substantially effective. He was often supported by healers and other champs who could help sustain him late into the game.
Most recent patches have attempted to address this in some way. Healing potions and defensive runs were largely turned off in patch 12.14, making it harder to stay in the lane and get full health without going back home. Whereas champions with strong healing abilities, which at times felt like an essential choice, have decimated their effectiveness in recent updates.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but it still feels like more could be done to make the early game more worthwhile. Simply increasing damage will roll back the effect of Riot’s durability update. I think the only realistic solution is to continue to balance the champions individually, hoping that some early game has enough effective support to occasionally ward off late game-scaling champs in the opening minutes of a match.
(Image credit: Riot Games)
Are the players happy?
Recognizing that the league’s player population is one of the largest and most diverse on planet Earth, the answer for most players is yes. League of Legends is in a good shape despite some shared frustrations, and crucially, when a major issue pops up Riot has been quick to fix it in recent years, as seen in the first few days to come. The initial changes were accompanied by a stability update. And a big patch in a couple of weeks..
The league’s recent controversies, or at least those that loomed large in Western communities, tend to focus on systems that sit outside the game, such as riot’s communication, management of the supporter scene, or customer service.
We finally got to see the new look of Udeer recently and initial impressions are good.
There has been a lot of talk about both the pro scene in North America and how Riot is marketing the game in the region. One example is the fans’ disappointment when they banned LCS players from participating in the Mr. Beast vs. Ninja celebrity showmatch, and then banned former pro Doublelifts from co-streaming the LCS for criticizing their decision. Then there was the viral story which was easily a . came to the top of the subreddit of korean streamer who was trolled Banned in the same match for three hours and then, which is not a good look.
(Image credit: Riot Games)
When is the next big update?
The next game-changing patch will arrive at the end of the year when the pre-season hits. Slowly, the details of what we can expect in the pre-season are starting to emerge, the first major area of change being the wilderness.
Riot revealed that it wants to make the jungle less intimidating, which for someone who only went there when Jungle Graves first became a thing and OP was, incredibly welcome. From the system to show you recommended paths to go through the beginner levels, simplifying leash mechanics, and even adding pets that will help you take camp, all of the things that the devs have revealed. The team is working. Although there are no specifics yet and this may still change with a few months of season 12, the thought of the role of Jungle is something you can just skip and play smoothly with a wide range like most can. Others are quite exciting.
Until then we can expect small, incremental patches to continue tweaking the strongest and weakest champions, and most likely tinkering with the system to try and rule out durability updates in effect.
Udyr fans can look forward to his complete resale, which will hopefully, rejuvenate the aged champion when it launches with patch 12.16. After winning a fan vote where he had more than double the number of votes for the next closest champion, we finally got to see the facelift of Udir recently and initial impressions are good. Visually it’s a massive improvement, with a lot of fans on Reddit loving his more mature dad-bod look which is a lot better in his lore. Early PBE testers suggest that the new and improved Udyr retains the core of the Champion’s design (the iconic stance that can change between Udyr), and that the bonus you get from swapping stances gives depth that wasn’t there before. .
The other change that could have a major impact on the game for most players is the addition of League of Legends to Xbox Game Pass, which is both exciting and mildly worrisome at the same time. Game Pass members will each unlock a champion, which should encourage some players to experiment with new characters. The potential downside of this is that for the first few weeks after it’s available, your games will be full of people playing champions they’ve never used.
things i would like to see in the future of lol
(Image credit: Riot Games)
a new or just noticeably better customer, please, literally anything to make it better
The League of Legends client is disappointing at best and incredibly disappointing at worst. Many players continue to complain about system resources seemingly taking so little to do, you still have to sit at the loading screen for an age instead of loading assets in the background, as every Similar games do, and it lacks basic features like being able to preview a skin you’d like to buy in-game.
Unfortunately a client update does not seem to be on Riot’s priority list, with no significant client updates announced. Community sentiment, especially on Reddit, is becoming less positive over time, with at least one major thread popping up a week about customer status, no doubt reflecting the recent Star Guardian homepage. How resource intensive has been. The second most voted thread on r/LeagueOfLegends over the past month features video clips of some of the cool client animation improvements that were shown in 2016 that never materialized.
(Image credit: Riot Games)
a big map change
Games can and should change their place of play. Basketball’s three-point line—which we associate inseparably with the sport—was only introduced in 1979. Valve has overhauled and tweaked Counter-Strike maps that have been around since ’99. I’m sure a lot of players will object to the major changes to the league’s map, but there hasn’t been a truly game-changing core map update since 2014. At this stage in the life of the game, everyone knows the best routes to take through the jungle, the most important objective and the optimal location to fight or sneak up on opponents. Wouldn’t it take us all out of our comfort zones if that implicit wisdom had to be re-learned?
Taking a look at the other side of the river, the map change is one of the major ways that Dota 2 has managed to keep itself fresh and exciting over the years. Its map is almost unrecognizable compared to 2014, and the map changes have proven to be more impressive in shaking up the entire game than accommodating individual heroes or main systems.
When shrines (healing pools dotted around the map) were added to Dota 2, it created a meta where you had to quickly burst enemies before they could heal without traveling to the base. When they were removed and checkpoints were added (a neutral structure on either side of the map that a team could control), position and area control became even more important. Roshan’s version of the Baron of Dota completely changed how fights are handled around the objective and removed one of the major advantages for a team. All these changes meant that players had to re-learn the core of the game for many years.
It’ll take some getting used to, and there’s no doubt it will be one of the biggest shakeups in LoL history, but after eight years of largely a single map, it’s certainly going to be the time to flip the table on the Summoner Rift. Seems like a good time.