Welcome to another edition of Champion Roadmap. If it seems like it hasn't been long since the last one, it's because it hasn't! We have a lot in the works right now.
Forging a New Vanguard
One of the big benefits of class updates was they helped us better define and understand our classes. For example, using lessons from the Assassin class update, we were able to apply what worked or didn’t work to Kayn’s assassin form, like giving him a slightly longer burst window but also more tools to weave in and out of the fight during his assassination pattern. The same can be said for the Tank update; as we honed in on what we felt worked for the Vanguard class, we saw a great opportunity to build a new Vanguard from scratch.
One of the key traits of a Vanguard is that they can choose when and where to start a fight. With that in mind, we wanted to make a new playmaking Vanguard that charged headfirst into tough situations and made the enemy team fight on their terms. We also really wanted to make a very self-reliant champion; expect to see a unique new passive that helps them build more than just character.
Look out for the newest Vanguard, who'll be heating up one of the coldest regions in Runeterra. Next, let’s look at the updates we have in flight.
Emerging from the Shadows
With Evelynn slowly stalking her way to release, we can start to talk a bit more about how she's shaping up. We want to play up Evelynn’s “PermaStealth” identity by giving her some new tools to use from stealth. This should further emphasize her unique gameplay and also reward Evelynn players for mastering her shadow form. Evelynn’s stealth is essential to her identity, so we will also be adding unique visuals for her stealth form to make it look as special as it is meant to be.
We're also going through and updating her narrative and place in Runeterra. In fact, one of our current champions already had a run-in with Evelynn after her parents embraced the lashes of agony. I’ll let you guys comb through the lore to figure out who’s life was sent down a much darker path thanks to Evelynn’s sadistic proclivities.
It’ll still be awhile before the updated Evelynn’s eviscerating her enemies on spikes of hatred, but expect to see her (or, more realistically, not see her) sometime after the new Vanguard mentioned above.
The Tip of the Spear
Before we discontinued class updates, there were two Divers that kept coming up when we talked about the possible champions for a Diver class update: Aatrox and Xin Zhao. While we won’t be doing a massive Diver update, we do want to give both of those champs a little love. I already went over Aatrox in my last devblog, so let’s talk about Xin Zhao! The Seneschal of Demacia will be a smaller update aimed at upgrading a few of his less interesting abilities and also giving him a strong strategic identity in League. We know that the core essence of Xin’s playstyle is his E->Q dash knockup combo. So rather than messing with a good thing, we’re focusing on the W as an opportunity to add both some counterplay and a much more skillful tool to his kit.
It’s looking like Xin Zhao’s changes will ship live before Aatrox’s, as Xin’s are shaping up to be much smaller. Expect to see him sooner rather than later.
The Sands are Shifting
So, as many of you know, we are planning on doing a smaller rework to the legendary Emperor of Shurmia, Azir. Azir has been a balancing nightmare since his release. He has a little bit of everything—engage, disengage, long-range damage, hyper-carry potential... you name it and Azir probably has it. When Azir is strong (and played optimally) he removes all potential for counterplay due to how well rounded he is, a problem that becomes even more pronounced in competitive play. In order to bring Azir in line, we’re going to have to tone down or remove some of his strengths in order to open up some more weak spots.
At the center of all these issues is the Shurima Shuffle, which is his ability to dash a pretty long distance and use his ult to force an engagement or escape a tough situation. We are currently looking at two possible solutions to the Shurima Shuffle dilemma. One would be to keep the shuffle and build a supporting kit that can co-exist with this iconic move. The other solution would be to remove the shuffle and push his kit closer towards his thematic, which is that of an Emperor commanding his sand soldiers from the backline.
We are still in very early exploration on Azir, and it seems that players are just as torn as we are between the two possible directions. Stay tuned for future Champion Roadmap blogs that will go into more details about Azir once we have better locked down which direction we want to go.
The Right to Rule
I’m happy to announce that our next big VGU after Evelynn will be none other than the leader of Noxus himself, Swain. To start off, his visuals haven’t held up very well over time. Swain is supposed to be the the all-powerful ruler of Noxus, and he doesn’t really look the part at the moment. His theme is also bit confused with his actual gameplay—he’s a Master Tactician, yet he plays more like a Drain Tank/Battle Mage.
His gameplay has also been a design problem for a while. If Swain gets behind, he doesn’t really make an impact on the game. If he gets ahead, he becomes a unkillable tank that can also output massive amounts of damage. Swain also has a lot of his power pushed into abilities and effects that enemies can’t really do anything about. Looking at him as a whole, we feel there’s a great opportunity to revisit Swain and truly deliver a champion worthy of leading one of the most ruthless and iconic nations of Runeterra. We'll be updating his visuals to better match his theme as the leader of Noxus, as well as doing a major overhaul on his gameplay. We want to keep the “essence” of Swain intact, even though we will be completely rebuilding his entire kit from scratch.
We are still very early on Swain but I will be back with more details later in his development
Let me know what you think in the comments below and I will try to answer as many questions as I can. Thanks!