Quick Gameplay Thoughts 12/17: What's Next?

Check out the SRT's short-term and long-term gameplay plans for early Season 2022!

DevAuthorRiot Axes
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Hi folks, this is Riot Axes here to talk about some upcoming gameplay plans. Preseason 2022 is looking pretty stable and, with the year coming to an end, it’s a good time to talk about a few things on our minds for next year.

Short-Term Plans

Most of Preseason 2022 seems to have landed well, with the Hextech Drake in good shape and Objective Bounties looking solid after some adjustments. However, we’re still actively monitoring the Chemtech Drake's terrain and Dragon Soul. Based on our observations, we're shipping a small change in patch 12.1, adding some Scryer’s Bloom plants in locations that should improve the defending team's experience in their own jungle. We knew that the Chemtech Drake would be a spicy addition, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on it.

There are several other areas of the game we're looking at, too. In 12.1, the Teleport Summoner Spell will change significantly. Before 14 minutes, the new Teleport has a longer cooldown and can only target towers. After 14 minutes, its cooldown is reduced and it can target the same objects as it can on live today. In Season 2021, Teleport had way too much early game influence on the outcomes of other lanes. Our goal is to limit that influence and eliminate some problematic edge cases while retaining its ability to stabilize losing lanes, allow mid-to-late game sidelaning, and create opportunities for flanks.

We’re also looking to change some Fighter items. In particular, Sterak’s Gage has become a universal purchase, washing out the differences between bruisers (like Darius or Illaoi) versus light fighters (like Fiora or Irelia). We’re also working on some other items, most likely Maw of Malmortius and Death’s Dance, so that champions moving off Sterak's will have adequate alternatives. We don’t have a ship date for that yet, but it'll definitely be in the first half of 2022.

We're also working on some mid-scope champion adjustments. Our next two projects are Janna and Ahri early in the year, two previously popular champions who have fallen out of favor lately. These will be smaller in scope than the Tahm Kench rework, but still substantial (think Lucian's recent update). This sort of work has gone well so far, so we’re building upon our process for it in the upcoming year, better defining our goals and how we’ll pick targets. We’ll talk more about this in detail soon.

Long-Term Investigations

In the longer term, we’re investigating a couple of larger spaces. To caveat, we're thinking about these spaces very broadly and do not have specific directions for them yet. We're just sharing them so you have an idea of what we're thinking about. We are not promising any particular outcomes.

First off is burst damage. We're analyzing how and when high bursts of damage happen and examining their effects on gameplay. We want to keep the game exciting with high stakes decision-making, but we also want to ensure that fights are reasonably understandable and counterplay is still possible. We're still very early in this investigation, but our current belief is that burst kills happen too quickly and too often. One option we're considering is to reduce damage output under at least a few conditions, most likely in mid-late game against very low defense champions. That's not to say we're deleting assassins or anything—it's a touchy area, and that's why we're taking our time investigating the data. As a friendly reminder, we're not guaranteeing to ship anything in this space yet. Even if we do, the goal isn't to ensure you can never get one-shotted, force a “tank meta”, or any other hyperbolic ideas.

Second, we believe that systems like items and runes provide too much healing and sustain right now. We’ve done some work to address this over the course of 2021, but we’re still meaningfully off from where we want to be. We haven’t settled on the details yet, including whether changes to systemic healing should go out in one large swing or through smaller changes spread out over time. The answer partly depends on what we end up doing with burst damage because the longer it takes to kill champions, the more powerful sustain gets.

That’s it for now! In the future, I’ll generally weigh in on things that are more directional and larger in scope as the new Lead Gameplay Designer. Hope all of you have a happy new year!

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