A few weeks ago I decided to catch up on League of Legends. I must admit, I have a bit of back and forth feeling going on with the game as a whole – there are just too many great games to play right now, and League is certainly here to stay for a long time. League players were more than well informed that changes were coming to the game, but the depth of what has changed still sat in question. After all, League is constantly redeveloped and the metagame changes along with it – Change in itself is not a surprise. However, the level of changes in the game have fundamentally altered how the game works, and I have yet to decide whether or not this is a good thing.
Riot has made it clear that the roles that have developed in League are something they want to reinforce through every aspect of the game. They like jungling. They love each team having a support. They want it to be meaningful for each area to have their role. In pre-release notes to the community, Riot developers told their membership they wanted to ensure that there were more item decisions available for every role. They want to keep each position interesting and keep the pool of players interested in what each role provides.
I have played most of the roles in the game to a fair extent during Season 2, and found myself gravitating towards tank roles, the jungle or supporting. It helps that everyone wants to play a carry, everyone wants to mid, and neither position is particularly interesting to me. I am the audience who needs more choice in the system. However, I can’t help but feel like Season 3 has been more of a horizontal shift in how things are done versus a pure increase in enjoyment for playing my different roles.
While a few items have disappeared from the aresnal, Riot added in a few more choices for supports and items that are specifically helpful for jungling. The Jungle itself has increased in difficulty somewhat, increasing the power of the main unit in each jungle pack while systematically removing some of the key items that helped many junglers power through those levels (Madred’s Bloodrazor being a fine example of a jungle staple that proved valuable through end game). To compensate for this, there is now a set of items developed solely to perform additional damage to creep. This basically necessitates junglers using these items to start, and they still have to focus their time in the jungle until they learn their ultimates, before ganking becomes a reasonable option. Additionally, these early ganks do not benefit as much from the starting items of the new jungler, resulting in an overall weaker jungle presence. Ganks just simply aren’t at the same level they used to be, and many soft jungle champions are no longer viable in the position.
Supports, however, do get a very positive result of the Season 3 changes. Practically, every hero providing support had just one major strategy for builds: get as much GP5 as an end game build would reasonably support, then complete those items in time for late midgame. The gold disadvantage that the support has results in being locked into a couple of team-supporting items, and additional team items were usually better placed on a carry who would benefit most from the reducing effects of the AoE item. Starting items for supports now build into far more options, and a few of the new items developed add more opportunities to add to the team. Better yet, decisions can be made more fluidly over the course of the fight. Should I start building that Aegis only to find that the hybrid went AP? Not a problem. The new items reasonably deal with mid game switches and give support heroes more versatility.
The changes in the gameplay of the game certainly feel like a mixed bag, and some re-balancing is certain to take place before Season 3 hits full swing, but it is clear that Riot is trying to tackle the challenge of keeping the game engaging for the roles that have felt less valuable in the previous season.