Hey everyone! Lexi "Riot Lexical" Gao here, and I'm back again with an update. It’s been a while since we did a Champion Roadmap in written form, and it’s always good to sit down and write a bit about my favorite thing for League: champions! ...Though I might be just a little biased.
Since last time, we released our Ixtali enchanter: Milio, the Gentle Flame—a back-to-basics enchanter with comfortingly familiar abilities that still feel unique to who he is. Returning to a simpler-to-play kit made us pretty nostalgic for simpler times, and we want to continue to explore more champions that play similarly.
Prior to Milio, we released a lineup of champions that, while super unique and interesting, may have indexed harder into higher complexity playstyles. Moving forward, the plan is to have a good variety of simple, to complex, and everything in between. But we’ll keep a close eye on how they perform, what you all think and adapt as needed.
As we previously mentioned, Naafiri is meant for those who want to focus on the hunt. The assassin role can be an intimidating one to pick up. There is a lot of higher level game knowledge required to ensure you know when to roam and how to position well—especially knowing when’s the right moment to pounce and crafting an escape plan to get out alive. On top of all that, there is still the mechanical execution of the champion’s abilities. We hope to lower the burden of that execution and allow much more concentration on the macro plays with Naafiri.
With the change to assassin gameplay that Naafiri brings, we also built a lot of new tech to accommodate her unique gameplay thematic that should help make it feel more alive, dynamic, and decluttered. We’ll be sure to take time to paws and evaluate the results to see if there are other champions who could benefit from a more extensive dive into doge tech during her release!
While working on Naafiri, game designer Glenn “Riot Twin Enso” Anderson explored tons of kits with fervent hunger. But the team felt like they were losing control over Naafiri’s kit, so they decided to icebox what Riot Twin Enso had uncovered, especially since they felt it was more in-line with a diver/skirmisher’s gameplay rather than an assassin’s. And then lead designer August Browning saw it.
He’s always been really passionate about a certain type of mythological creature... Anyway, the team really liked the idea of exploring an uncontrollable hunger, and what happens when sometimes that hunger takes over and the creature is allowed to feast on those who deserve it.
I really understand that, personally! When I’m really hungry I feel like I’m about to go into a frenzy!
Luckily for us—and for all of Noxus—Briar has learned who’s friend and foe, and is on the path of reformation now that she has that insatiable hunger somewhat under control...
Listen, before you start asking us... we know that we always have art for champion teasers. And we had intended for there to be art for our midlaner, but he actually insisted that he create something for us himself!
We were really excited at the prospect of having such a masterful artist create art of himself for us. I mean... Really, he creates such complex pieces of art, we were astounded at the office.
Except he gave us a blank canvas. We asked about it, trying to learn more about him, his art, his style. He just kind of stood there with a mournful expression. Then he offered, "For some, art is the pursuit of a lifetime. That's true for me. And... the brush in my hand is a simple tool—but a perfectly crafted one.”
We thought that was a bit of an odd thing to say, because his art is usually so vibrant and alive. But in contrast, we found the artist himself to be broody and somber. He must have gone through something terrible in his past or something...
Regardless, no art for now. All we can hope for is that next time the torn, tortured artist will grace us with his intricate, and incredibly skillful masterpieces. And that you all see him, and his art, for what they truly are. Or that you might even be inspired to pick up your own paints to plan out something with highly complex execution.
It hasn’t been too long since we dove into Skarner and the multitude of paths we tried, iterated, and refined. While we have a direction that we are excited about, it will be a while till we get to see our favorite Ixtali scorpion skittering across the Rift. We’re currently anticipating he will release sometime early next year, but we’re not 100% sure on the date yet.
Currently the design team is working hard on locking in his kit. Unlike the other disciplines, they have the extra burden of ensuring his gameplay is fun, interesting, and balanced, and that means lots and lots of testing.
We’re heads down making sure it works well and we’ll check back in later this year with another update on his progress!
Skarner’s gameplay delay has left the art and narrative folks with a little extra time on their hands. So they decided to look to a familiar top laner who’s in need of a glow up.
Jax is a well-loved champ who’s honestly just looking a bit dated while standing next to the newer six pack-filled champions. We’re planning to update his model, animation, VO, VFX, and some of his splash art to catch up to the gameplay update he got previously.
We decided against giving Jax a real weapon, no matter how much he’d like one. Instead, we amplified his weapon’s importance—it’s the only thing he has from his home of Icathia before it was lost to the Void. Which is why he chooses to use it over a more traditional weapon.
We’re expecting Jax’s new look to ship later this year!
That’s all we have for today! But don’t worry, there are other exciting champions such as an adorable creature marksman who’s slowly hatching. But more on that next time!