Hello everyone! I’m Riot Cadmus, the new Product Lead for the Game Modes team.
It’s been a while since we last talked about what’s happening with modes in detail, and honestly… a LOT has happened since then. We’d like to take this opportunity to talk through what has changed and what type of stuff you can expect from us in 2023 and beyond!
But before we get into the new stuff, let’s talk about our team’s goals:
Before we get into the new stuff we want to talk to you about the state of our existing modes up at the top here. Unfortunately because we're all working so hard to get the new mode out to you, we need to pause support for the existing rotating modes (URF, ARURF, Spellbook, OFA). This means that you won't see another rotating mode until this summer when we release the new mode. We know it's a bummer, but we will be bringing them back later this year once we've shipped the 2v2v2v2 mode.
That said, let’s dive into some of our immediate areas of focus and I’ll hand things off to Riot Maxw3ll to talk about our projects.
Hey friends, I’m Riot Maxw3ll, design lead for the Modes team, and I’m here to give y’all an update on the projects we’ve been working on, as well as a peek into the future. Let’s get cracking.
Late last year we shipped an update to ARAM that added a few new map features as well as an updated balance strategy.
For a long time ARAM has biased strongly towards poke champs, ADCs, and enchanters in terms of both pick rate and power level. This led to an environment where melee champions felt quite bad to play. There was also the challenge where champions like Talon or Kayn had less terrain to interact with (and therefore not utilize portions of their kit). And the elephant in the room... ARAM was released in 2012 and the map was feeling pretty stale.
So we made some changes to help try to address all of this.
Frostgates were intended to do two things: give champions that want to flank a few opportunities to do so, and to lower the cost of dying early, which is when melee champions are at their most vulnerable.
After the ARAM changes went live we surveyed a lot of players who played on the changes. Most surveyed players liked this change, but the Frostgates had a somewhat negative trend with overall “game flow.” Meaning, the games turned pretty hectic at the start when you zip from spawn to tower, and dramatically slow down at later levels because of the increased death timers. Sometimes games would end out of nowhere with a single teamfight being turned into a win. Also, players just generally found the extra time spent dead to be excessive.
Overall we believe the gates were a good addition, and we’ll be following up with more work on them, including reverting death timers to their 12.22 values, which is something we’re expecting to include in 13.4. If this still doesn’t solve the game length issue, we’ll take a closer look at Frostgates themselves.
We started to balance champions individually for ARAM a few years ago, and while it helped, it became a constant back-and-forth. So we made some changes to how we balance by adding some stat modifications (like Tenacity and Ability Haste) to help out struggling champions without just giving them base damage adjustments.
This has worked pretty well, like allowing champions like Sona and Seraphine to heal decently well without feeling incredibly overpowered or like they’re healing at the pace of a potion. However, other champs, like LeBlanc, are still struggling, meaning we can’t revert her damage buffs or she’ll become borderline unplayable in ARAM.
We’re in a better state than we were before the update, but we still have some work left to do here.
We intend to continue actively balancing and investigating alternative balance approaches and tools. One thing we want to do is set limits on how far each of our “balance levers” can be changed. We’re pretty confident that moving too far in any one direction will meaningfully degrade the overall gameplay experience for a champion, especially when it comes to nerfs.
The map changes, including Frostgates, have been successful in allowing us to pull back on a lot of damage-based balance levers, but we still have more tuning to do. Our goal is to make it so ARAM doesn’t need to be balanced based on pure damage (or healing) numbers alone, so we’re going to continue to work to find other creative ways to buff and nerf champions in the future.
The most divisive change we made to ARAM was the falling tower rubble.
When we look at the survey data, the changes to ARAM as a whole were received very positively. However, the tower rubble came back as unpopular. We have many theories as to why, but we think that at the end of the day, we changed ARAM more dramatically than we needed to. A lot of the combat focus was drawn to the choke points and vision, and away from the normal teamfighting push and pull that folks play ARAM for.
So, we’re going to be strongly scaling back the tower rubble mechanic or outright reverting it in a future patch. We know these changes haven’t been coming out as fast as you’d like (or as fast as we’d like), but we’re working hard to make sure they’re out for you as soon as they can be.
We want to maintain ARAM as a fun mode for the people who play it and address issues that affect the core experience rather than continuously try and reinvent it. If you have thoughts on what you’d like to see for ARAM, please let us know!
A few weeks ago, Riot Brightmoon and Meddler announced our upcoming 2v2v2v2 game mode, and we’re here to tell you more about it. Here’s Project Just-Kidding-We’re-Not-Giving-It-A-Codename.
As we said earlier, one of our goals as a team is to explore gameplay both outside of Summoner’s Rift physically, and outside of the core League gameplay experience. So here are our goals for this mode:
Enter our hero, a 2v2(v2v2) mode where four teams of two will pick champions and be paired against another team in several deathmatch-style rounds. Champions will progress in power over the game, gaining items, levels, and special powers called Augments in between the combat rounds. Teams are eliminated after losing enough rounds, allowing you to queue up immediately. If that sounds familiar, it's probably because you’ve played TFT’s Double Up mode, which was our inspiration... just League-ified.
We know that it’s been awhile since a new mode has made its debut, and we’re sure you’re ready for more details. Unfortunately, things are constantly changing so we don’t have a lot of specifics that are completely locked. However, we’ll give you a quick overview of our thoughts on League’s version of Augments, as long as we’re all on the same page re: things constantly changing. Cool? Cool.
Augments are significant power ups that are intended to create unique builds for champions. Champions can either index into their core strengths or flex into some new ones. The intent is to create variety in your champion’s capabilities to create cool, unique combat situations. Here are some things we’ve seen in playtests:
We have plenty more variants and high impact Augments in the works, but things are very much still up in the air, so consider this a small preview.
In the interest of getting some new experiences out to you sooner rather than making y’all wait for us to polish, we’re going to ship this in an experimental state. We’re going to try and deliver the mode with as much polish as we can manage, but you might see a few more cracks than you’re used to. And if you like it, you can expect to see it again in the future with improvements. We’re planning to release it this summer, so check it out and let us know what you think!
We’ve talked about ARAM and our new 2v2v2v2 mode, and it’s now time to look a bit further out into the future ...by looking at game modes past.
Like we mentioned up top, we’re currently devoted to delivering the new mode to you this summer, so that means we need to pause support for our existing modes. As the game changes, we have to continually update those modes. Whether it’s new or updated champions or items, or invisible back end changes, these all take quite a bit of time and focus from our team. And right now we think it’s more important to get a new mode in your hands as quickly as possible.
To be clear, you will see these modes come back this year, but perhaps more in the later half of the year once we’re more set up to deliver on continued support for these modes, while also investing in research and development for more novel modes.
For now, we don’t have a timeline to share out on when these will be returning in 2023, but you’ll hear more from us once we’ve solidified our approach to these moving forward.
Nexus Blitz was promised to re-release in 2022 and that didn’t happen for many of the reasons we’ve talked about elsewhere. But we haven’t forgotten about that commitment. Now that we’re staffed up, we’re dedicating a bit of time getting Nexus Blitz functional again before we release it.
While our immediate focus is on shipping our new 2v2-oriented mode, we don’t want to stop there. Expect us to be more experimental moving forward. We’re not gonna hit all of our bets but we want to make sure you feel that League will become a game with multiple different ways to play, and hopefully, you find a mode that becomes your new MOBA home. We can’t wait to dive into this discovery together and we hope you’re as excited as we are for what the future can bring for new modes in League of Legends!