It's 2018 which means another year of new champions and VGUs has begun! I thought now would be a great time to talk about some of the Champions Team's plans for the year. Let’s skip the long intro and get right into what you all came here for: sweet, sweet champion teasers.
Suiting Up a New Marksman
To start things off, let’s talk about a new champ we have in the works. Looking back at the last few marksmen released, we discovered something that's been null from our roster for a long time: a super high-risk, high-reward marksman, in the vein of well... Vayne.
With that in mind, we locked onto a marksman that rewards players who aren’t afraid to hunt for the perfect opportunity, no matter where it takes them. This new champion's best players will go deep into enemy territory and thrive, while the weak players will perish, never to be heard from again.
Peace Isn’t Always the Answer
Sometimes violence is necessary, which brings me to our next topic: Irelia. When we started Irelia’s rework, our main goal was to transform her into the master of levitating blades that her theme implies—she should be surging into the thick of battle, where she can pierce the shields of her enemies before cutting them down in a flurry of dancing blades.
Like I mentioned before, we're keeping her current Q, Bladesurge, as we believe it's a great ability that's core to Irelia, and we’ll even be spicing it up by giving her more reset opportunities. The rest of her kit is going through pretty big changes to help fully realize her theme. We still want to maintain her strength against ranged champions and want her to be able to fight at a relatively long range (for a fighter), poking at her enemies with a thousand tiny cuts before surging in for the kill.
As a war heroine, Irelia also needs some tools to initiate a fight and signal to her teammates that negotiations have failed and it’s time to fight back. Get ready to surge into battle with Irelia later this year.
There Will be Blood
Next let’s talk about the Darkin Blade, Aatrox. As noted previously, Aatrox’s changes will be the largest pure gameplay update we’ve ever done, and it’s taken us a bit longer than we originally predicted. We think that Aatrox really isn’t holistically living up to his Darkin Warlord theme and needs to be rethought from the ground up.
After many iterations and a lot of experiments, we've finally settled on a design direction we're happy with: "bloodthirsty, greatsword-wielding Warlord" We want Aatrox’s attacks and abilities to feel very heavy and powerful while still maintaining the duelist nature of a sword master. And he's definitely gonna have a giant Darkin sword that feeds on the death and destruction of all humanity. You know, typical Darkin stuff.
Shrouded in Mystery
Now let’s move on to the next big VGU that will be stepping out of the shroud: Akali.
Akali has always been a beloved champion, but she hasn’t aged particularly well. Her assassin pattern is very all-or-nothing, so it can be difficult for her to succeed unless she snowballs off of early kills. We want to give her more options for success by playing up her ability to hide in plain sight. We think her Shroud is an awesome and iconic ability and want to push it even further.
Akali also has trouble laning against a large portion of the modern League cast, so we'll be looking to give her a stronger laning pattern that should bring her more in line with the current needs of solo-lane champions. This will allow us to reduce her snowball potential, as she won’t have to be as dependent on early kills to succeed.
Overall, we are pretty satisfied with Akali’s high-level theme of a “Ninja Assassin,” but the current execution is a bit generic. We'll be looking to add a couple more unique traits to Akali to elevate her beyond this common theme. As for her narrative, we want to go with an approach similar to the one we took for the Gangpank VGU, meaning we want to extend her narrative rather than rework it. Instead of a new Akali, this will be a tale of growth and change.
That’s it for today! It's still a bit early to talk about the VGU after Akali, but let’s just say that it has been getting a bit chilly for the Champions Team lately…
Lead Producer of Champions