The first half of November 2014 is close to an end, and for League of Legends fans; it means only one thing – the preseason is here and preparations for LoL Season 5 are on the way.
This year’s preseason changes are way more complex, dynamic and objective-based compared to season 4 pre-season changes. Not only the champions, items and strategies are under review like every year, but Riot would also be implementing an updated map of Summoner’s Rift for the upcoming Season 5 – which is the cause of extreme hype within the game’s fan base.
This article will be a comprehensive review of all the changes taking place – so instead of visiting several Dev blog posts and rampaging the forums, you can just grab a cup of coffee and read on!
As a general reminder, the preseason will be taking effect from 12:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time) 11th November, 2014; when season 4 will officially end.
Summoner’s Rift Season 5 | 2015
Welcome to the new Summoner’s Rift!
Alas, more than 70 million gamers would be saying adieu to the old Summoner’s Rift tomorrow. A Summoner’s Rift which, no doubt, has been the cause of their happiness, rage and unending flame! The vibrant colors of our old Summoner’s Rift would be missed along with the toss and turn of the lizard elders, the baron dances and no doubt the mighty drake. However, to replace it all would be the updated SR – duller but clearer, shadier but smoother and no doubt, optimized for toasters…
After months of preparation, non-stop testing in the PBE (Public Beta Environment) and countless hours of programming – the map is ready. Ready to embrace more than 27 million players and ready to accommodate them (Or not, as is to be expected with Riot). The changes the map brings with itself are huge, since the entire visual experience and gameplay experience has been overhauled. Not to mention, coupled with the preseason item and gameplay changes, the map is going to feel a lot more different than the players are expecting.
To start off with, the entire SR navigation mesh has been updated. This means no more fail flashes (unless your fingers slip), un-walkable terrain that should be walkable or fail wall jumps. As such, the map flows much more fluidly when compared to the old one and makes sure that a smoother experience for the user is passed on.
Moreover, the entire SR color tone and mood for the user has been changed as well. Rather than a vibrant, active and colorful SR, we now have ourselves a duller, shadier and quieter SR. The purpose? Clarity. Riot explains that in the old SR, it was not easy for the player to read information at a glance, due to the plethora of irrelevant data presented to them. With the new SR, this has been resolved, since the duller background color makes it easier to see actual and relevant information much faster at a glance (such as the beam of a skillshot). This will (hopefully) result in an increase in the average teamfighting mechanical skill of players.
Summoner’s Rift 2015 Gameplay Video
Another thing, noteworthy, is the way Riot has changed and differentiated between the two bases, Red and Blue. The buildings (towers and inhibitors) for each team have altered designs and layouts, which help a user unconsciously determine where exactly he is standing on a map at a glance. This once again helps in maintaining clarity and spatial understanding which enhances the gameplay experience for the player. As for the specific differences, here is an actual quote from their interactive map: “The Rift’s two new bases incorporate unique architectural and stylistic elements to help you quickly orient yourself on the map. The south base features a bold and angular look in its nexus, inhibs, towers and minions, whereas the north base uses sweeping curves and smooth lines.” This pretty much sums it up.
Jungle Camps and Monsters
All jungle monsters and camps, including Baron Nashor and Dragon have received visual updates as well. To cut it all short, they all look extra awesome now and have some cool effects as well. As for the baron Nashor, it dances extra well and has a classy and deadly look to it instead of its old fantasy-book look. Same goes for drake, except it now flies really well and his attacks also hit nearby allies, which basically means extra burns.
The last thing worthwhile mentioning in this summary is how structures age and wither, when they are damaged. Now, when you attack any structure, it will visually show signs of crumbling apart as it loses its hp, which adds a new dimension of visual experience to the overall gameplay.
On a side note, Riot also updated splash arts, textures and visuals for many old champions so that they may fit better on the new SR and not feel out of place. I haven’t really sat down and counted, but I think around 30 or more champions have been visually updated, with gameplay updates for several others as well (thinking of Sion at the moment).
On whole, the new SR really looks promising, and there is no denying that the hype created by fans around it is very much real and hard-earned for. With the map hitting the live servers in the preseason stage, only one thing remains to be seen; whether the game servers would be able to take on and adjust to this updated map or not, since League of Legends has a long standing history of server clashes and bugs.
LCS Season 5 Gampelay Changes
The new SR is not the only thing landing in the preseason, Riot has published several entries in their Dev blog which signal that they are working on some core gameplay updates for Season 5 as well. I remember reading, “We want to add strategic depth to the game, so rather than only mechanical skills, the strategic decisions every individual makes also affect the outcome of the game.” As such, they have conveyed their point of view over 4 different Dev blog posts, and I would be going over them here.
This is one of the first Dev blog post by Riot, which goes over the aims and objectives Riot has for the game and how they view the current situation and how they aim to improve it. Riot claims that by adding strategic diversity, they aim to make each game in-comparable and unique, so that it doesn’t feel like you are playing a repetition of the previous round. To achieve this, they have set a number of different goals and objectives.
Riot claims that they want to add new ways to the game that will allow teams to win and add a strategic depth to the game. They do not want a game that is decided in the champion select or in the team composition, they want to make the in-game decisions matter. So rather than forcing the viable “meta” strategies there are in play right now, they want to balance strategies such as split pushing vs sieging so that they are both equally rewarding rather than one being more rewarding than the other. Riot claims that in the past this was impossible to do so when one strategy became dominant and they had to nerf champions rather than fix the strategy itself to balance the game. They want to create a model that is not champion reliant, rather is decision reliant. They also want to add items to the game that allow you to defend against different team compositions no matter which composition you possess, which means that games will not be decided on team compositions but the overall decision making ability of the players. Another theme they touched was: “deepening the demands on players and champions so that there are more ways for a champion to express strength and power”. This relates to the fact that all champions should have a number of different ways to be played and they should all be balanced and equally rewarding in specific situations.
As mentioned in the strategic diversity section, Riot is trying to diversify the main objectives in the game, such as Baron, turrets and Drake. This means a lot of changes.
Starting with turrets, there are some massive changes to behold. Only the outer turrets will remain as they are, and even they will have stat tuning (all turrets are getting upgraded stats). The inner turrets will now have a regenerating shield, which will gain power with the number of allied champions there are in the vicinity. This change is meant to induce a healthy counter to the way poke compositions override other type of compositions and should help under-sieged teams to defend against heavy poke damage.
Inhibitor turrets have also been updated for Season 5, with a beam that will focus champions (or enemy units, not confirmed), deal damage, slow them and reduce their damage output which should help defenders defend against split pushers such as Master Yi or Tryndamere that can easily dive anyone and kill them as well as the tower. This beam will also ramp up damage against the same target like normal turrets and prevent a diver from tanking too “hard”. The ideology behind this is that previously there was no strategy against a hard split pusher other than forcing a duelist pick of your own in champion select, this change should allow more flexibility in the picking phase now when teams do not pick a champion simply because the enemy has a split pusher.
Meanwhile, nexus turrets remain the same because they are already unique in the sense that there are two of them, and all towers will also get a slight stat change that will clarify how much damage a player can do them.
Dragon and Baron
The dragon mechanics have also been changed, with the gold factor being completely removed. Now, each dragon kill will result in a stack of “aspect of dragon” which each aspect giving different types of bonus statistics. These stats are set, and cannot be lost with time or death. At 5 stacks, the aspect of dragon is completed which gives insane amount of buffs to all the allied champions which should help close out any game, functioning similar to baron buff. These changes mean that a completely different approach will need to be taken when weighting dragon now, since teams would have to decide whether to invest in a stack or a tower, rather than just going for one since they are both going to give gold.
As for the Baron Buff, mana and health regeneration have been removed whereas two new features have been added. Empowered recall means that players can recall more quickly and regroup faster, whereas the other feature, empowered minions, allow minions to share the baron buff and gain different stats depending on their type. Casters get more damage, melees get more tankiness and cannon gets more range. This will once again add a deeper strategic dynamic to the gameplay as teams would have to judge where to invest their time and resources into, baron or drake. The removal of mana and hp regen also means that baron is not the safeguard for sieging any longer as well, since you cannot hope to regen as quickly as required.
A new Jungle
The jungle has been the hard focus of the changes and there is much to talk about. First off, each camp will start with a smite stack that when you use smite on them, is converted into a small buff. Each buff is different, and will give you different stats so it’s up to the player to decide how to efficiently utilize them. Moving on, a new camp has also been added to the river. Riot wanted to add an element that will force junglers to come out and have small skirmishes, with mid and bot taking part if suited. This camp is a monster that will run away from you when attacked, so it basically means that you will need to run up and down the river in order to kill it (providing plenty of opportunity for skirmishes). The reward of this camp will be a vision tool which you can use for vision superiority.
As for items, hunter’s machete has been retained but is now upgradeable to 4 different items which augments your smite spell and helps in different aspects of jungling. It is important to note that these do not bound players to a role, rather they allow the jungler diversity in his actions. However, they do use up an item slot so these 4 new items have a separate upgradeable as well, which is specific to each role and gives a set of differing stats.
In essence, the jungle changes will compose of a new camp, each camp giving different small buffs when smite is used on them, and new items which will define which aspect of a jungler you want to improve whereas these items would be upgradeable later on into the game into role-defining stats.
Forging a diverse armory:
The items! Riot has taken a stance with strategic diversity and they are trying to implement this in the item selection choices scenario as well, a hard task considering items are meant to be hard setting stats giving objects but not impossible. 4 new elixirs have been added, which can help a player in each specific situation react to the developing enemy strategy. As a compensation, the old two elixirs have been removed (you will be missed red elixir!).
Moreover, chain vest has been altered and can now be built out of cloth armor as well, whereas negatron cloak has been removed from the game. This is meant in order to remove the needless complexity in item choices, since the amount of gold you often had in pocket made you make different decisions which did not contribute to the overall build. These changes will help you build what you exactly need to buy, armor or magic resist, in a sticky situation without worrying about gold or overall build path.
Meanwhile, hp regen has also been changed. Rather than flat stats, hp regen is now based on a % of your current stats that will allow you to achieve better and more ‘evolved’ stats during the game that will not be absurd in any stages of the round. This means % based items will also need to be tweaked with a lot of changes to champions that rely on hp regen as well, (Dr.Mundo does not go where he pleases!)
Overall, the items now have 4 new elixirs, defensive pathing has been made easier and hp regen has been changed to % stats rather than just flat stats. This also stands for hp regen items and champion abilities.
With the preseason taking effect tomorrow, these are a lot of changes to chew in and will take days to get accustomed to. Not only there is a new map to behold, but Riot’s stance on strategic diversity also means players around the regions will have to change how they think and react to situations, this will mean taking a moment during the game and giving thought to whether you are going to push for a tower, dragon stack or baron buff. This is also going to require a lot of communication, since it can get pretty hard to determine which objective is worth it and teammates may not be willing enough to sacrifice their decisions for others – especially in solo que but for the Pros in the competitive LoL leagues as well. One thing is for certain, League of Legends will rapidly change over the course of coming weeks and there is no way you can miss this change if you want to stay in touch with the game mechanics. The upcomig Expansion tournament will be played on the old map for the first 2 rounds while round 3 to 5 are played on the new summoners rift!
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