Powercreep and the Design Philosophy of Riot

  Riot gets a lot of flack for their champion design — complaints range from sexist aesthetics to “anti-fun” kits.  This is the internet, though; you don’t make the world’s most popular game without attracting a few haters along the way.  However, one complaint stands above the others in that there may be some validity to it and that is overpowered kits.

  With the release of every new champion, like clockwork, Reddit lights up with highlight reels and lengthy posts detailing just why this new champion is broken in their eyes.  Watch this Illaoi 1v5 in my Bronze 4 game!  Check out this Jhin one-shot someone with absolutely no context to the match it happened in!  Wow, look at this Aurelion Sol 360 noscope an AFK player!  RIOT PLEASE NERF!  

  Surprise surprise, people like to complain about things that are new.  There exists an adjustment period — in the first month or so after a champion is let loose into the wild there aren’t many effective players of the champion, nor does there exist a vast number of people who know how to play against it.  Many champions, without this knowledge of counterplay, do indeed seem overpowered and busted until the chinks in their armor surface and they nestle comfortably into a 50-50% winrate in the meta.

  I don’t believe that many champions are absolutely, nutbustingly broken in League of Legends.  I do (tinfoil hat mode engage) believe that Riot’s philosophy regarding new champions has become overbearing in terms of kit.  One might even say overdesigned.  Let’s take a look at the newest champion, Kled:

  Kled is a semi-tanky top laner with no resource bar to manage; he deals a decent amount of burst and great sustained damage.  He has a total of 5 different abilities (mounted and unmounted kits), with a game-changing ult that seems to turn his entire team into a herd of Rammus (Rammi?  Rammuses??) for a long range engage or disengage.  That isn’t even getting into the numbers side of things — I’ve just listed a bunch of attributes of his kit.  It sounds like this new champion has a lot of moving parts, huh?

  Maybe it’s just a coincidence, though.  Let’s take a look at the one that came before him, Taliyah.  Taliyah is a control mage that has consistent, sustained long-ranged DPS, a reliable controlled directional knock-up CC, an AoE slow, and a game-changing ult that allows for a long range engage or disengage, while also drastically altering terrain.  Wow, it sounds like this new champion has a lot of — … you get the idea, right?  

  It seems that long gone are the days of binary champions that are just damn good at one particular thing, ala Blitzcrank and Leona.  It seems this design philosophy of loading everything and the kitchen sink is here to stay.  Now I’m not crying about “NEW CHAMP _____ IS OP!”  I’m just noting that this design philosophy can dictate the meta and future of the game, and it might be a complex future that could be a little harder to explain.  

  A new player sees Blitzcrank for the first time and asks “What does that guy do?”  and you answer, “Oh, that’s Blitzcrank!  He hooks things.”   A new player sees Kled and asks “What does that guy do?”  and you pull up a chair, a thesaurus, and your college thesis.

  • ioki
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