Quick Gameplay Thoughts: Addressing Mythics

Why we’re removing Mythics and the future of items.

As mentioned in the most recent Dev Update, we’re going to be removing the Mythic item class come Season 2024. But before that happens I wanted to take some time to chat about why we’re removing Mythics and what that will mean for League.

Mythics and Subclass Support

While the Mythic item system works reasonably well for some classes like assassins, for other classes with more divergent needs it’s been difficult to satisfy all of the users across each of the subclasses.

As an example, fighters have many different subclasses (divers, juggernauts, skirmishers, etc.), so trying to fulfill the needs of all those different champions with only four items has proven to be extremely difficult.

While theoretically we could solve the Mythic needs of these champions by creating ~10 Mythics split across each of the subclasses of fighter, every item we add to the Mythic pool adds an additional item’s worth of complexity to the game. There is a maximum number of items that League can have before it gets too complicated, and for every Mythic item that we add, an item slot is taken up and there is one less in the Legendary item pool.

Going into Mythic items, we knew that adding them would mean less itemization options for item slots 2-5. We did increase the total item pool to compensate for this since we knew the Legendary space would be more pinched, but it still wasn’t enough. We initially thought that the excitement Mythics were bringing as a new tier of items would overcome this, but while ~50% of champions were satisfied with their Mythic items, the other ~50% were left feeling like they didn’t have items that felt right for them. To fully satisfy the needs of all champions, we would need to add ~30% more items (and the complexity associated with each) to the item system, which we don’t want to do, as that will make League significantly harder to learn.

Mythic Goals and Design Debt

When we started out with Mythic items, they were intended to be high excitement with unique outputs, similar to getting really awesome unique items in MMOs and ARPGs. Dashes (Stridebreaker, Prowlers, Galeforce), big heals, and hard CC were previously few and far between. For example, a Fiddlesticks or Morgana feels like their gameplay gets transformed for the better when they complete Zhonya’s Hourglass and we were interested in exploring a version of League that had more kit warping effects that augmented champion fantasies for other classes.

While we are able to balance champions around having Mythic outputs (eg. balancing Aphelios around Galeforce), it adds a bit too much design debt when it comes to designing new champions (eg. all ADCs need to be designed around getting a dash from the item system).

Another issue with Mythic items is that due to the need to satisfy many different users with a limited number of Mythic items, each item tended to be quite complicated as we often needed to have multiple mechanics or stats on certain items so that they’d be satisfying across many different champions and classes (many items like Stridebreaker needed 4 stats). Prior to Mythics, items were much simpler across the board which is something we’d like to get back to.

The above issues have led us to the decision to remove Mythic items as a concept and bring those items down to the Legendary tier.

Champion Power Budgets and Items

Balancing a champion’s total power budget is done by considering their kit, items, summoner spells, runes, etc. This innately means that if an item takes up a significant portion of this power budget, then other aspects like abilities need to take up a smaller amount. After observing the past few years, we think even unique item effects in the Legendary item system are overriding champions’ gameplay too much and would like to reduce it by some amount. This will allow more of the champions’ unique gameplay to shine, rather than being a champion delivery system for up-front burst damage procs as an example.

Item Stacking Considerations

Having only one Mythic item has had a notable benefit for game balancing. This is because we can make items strong and satisfying without fear of them being stacked, but after seeing this in practice we don’t think this benefit alone justifies all the costs that we’re paying for when it comes to game complexity and satisfying all champions with Mythic items. As a result, we intend to reduce the power of items that were previously Mythic when converting them to Legendary, rather than bring the power of Legendaries up to where Mythics are today. This means that some of the more kit warping items like Galeforce will be removed, but some legacy exceptions like Zhonya’s Hourglass that were present in the old item system will stay. 

As we move to a world where most items will be stackable again, we will need to reduce the power level of items generally, so that stacking them doesn’t become too powerful.

The Future of Items

Elegant design that is still satisfying is the holy grail that we aspire for. Simple items with a clear purpose reduce the barrier to entry of learning League and reduce the unnecessary complexity in making choices between competing itemization options. But having a single unique item that creates balanced choices across users, is satisfying, and makes good use of an item slot is incredibly difficult to achieve in actuality. Where possible, we would like to reduce item complexity to have one clear unique effect and a maximum of 3 stats. We also want items to have at least ~5 users, but with as diverse of a champion roster as we have in League, we know we will need to make exceptions in some places.

The number of items and their complexity is commonly cited as a barrier to playing League and we aim to simplify items by a meaningful amount while still trying to keep the things players like.

This will make some individual items less exciting across the board, but will ultimately mean that individual champions’ kits and their differences will shine more, players will have more flexibility to craft builds, and items will feel like they fit champions better.

While long term we’re still interested in the concept of an additional item tier (Ornn does it well for example), we know Mythic items as they are currently is not the right execution of that concept.