Well, Season 3 is coming to a close, and all those amazing item and champion reworks that have made a...well a more interesting game out of League of Legends are now starting to feel like a distant memory. What do we know that's on the agenda for the next season? What's in the near future? What has Riot confirmed, and what are they stepping away from?
Geology Changes to Shut Laners Off of Jungle Creeps
This is one of the biggest points that Morello himself said they were doing on his Twitter account. Right now, there's too much jungle stealing, and the buffs quickly start to be taken by the laners, even now. Season 2 this was prolific – after the jungle reworks it became “how much wraiths can the mid laner get?” S3 made it harder so it took more time and jungler tools were critical to doing it efficiently, but it's not enough – so now we have jungle changes.
Most likely, it's going to reshape a lot of the jungle so there are more closed off paths to each creep and buff. Golems are obvious, but this is probably going to include a readjustment of their locations, too, meaning Wraiths might end up closer inside and further out of range, whereas Golems might be closed off in pits, with the open part pointing towards the base. This would make invades just as deadly, since buffs are still the prime experience/gold harvesters.
Jungle Gold Changes to Make Carrying More Ideal and Less Tanky Ganker
Season 2's jungle was about using gold items to sustain, keeping occasional buffs for yourself, and ganking a lot. Season 3 is now about tanky, hardy champions building tough and ganking a lot, using the jungle creeps to get themselves the levels that they need and assisting lanes.
This is pretty great, and even works with carry junglers who do enough damage (looking at you Master Yi rework), but on the whole, junglers like Fiora can't do nearly as much to affect the game. If they stayed in their jungles most of the game, farm incessantly, and come out, the lanes would be less off and they'd have less gold from assists. So a goal is to change the gold from ambient gold gain, jungle creeps, and items to shift more power into the jungler's hands. If he wishes to farm, great! If not, that's cool too.
Negative returns of this change? Well, we might see the inversion of the typical jungler roles, IE support junglers in S2 replaced with tanky gankers in S3, now we might see tanky gankers in S3 replaced with people who can do damage and carry, instead. Master Yi post rework was a terror, and if the jungle is a little off upon release (and it will be, since this is the hardest game to balance IMO), this might overshoot and make things awful.
Let's not forget that magic week when Pantheon and Talon were instant bans.
But this leads to the question of, “If the jungle gold gets changed, does that mean jungle monsters are getting changed again?” And, well, maybe, maybe not. Because you see another part they're looking at is...
Support Gold Alterations to Make “Not Heart of Gold” and Philo Not Critical
S3 was aimed at making support role suck less. It only half succeeded. Support gold was not nearly as horrendous, and instead of two passive gold items and a stack of wards, we got a health ward item and a gold passive item. It's not great, but it at least allows the first ten minutes to be taken up by those items and then you can play with more fun items, such as the Crucible or more champion-specific stuff, like resistances and debuff items for tanks like Ali and Leo.
And let's be completely honest - everyone misses Heart of Gold, but it was awful. Just awful. I'll get back to that later.
But you're still, again, buying those lategame cost-efficient items so you have enough gold to afford it, Shurelia's is so good it's hard to pass up, and most support items come from other support items, such as the Kindlegem, the Chalice, or the Pick. Season 3 was aimed at allowing more options, and while it was a partial success (as much as support still has its problems, Season 3 made huge fixes to the role), there's still more progress to make.
So, what's the end result? I'm assuming both junglers and laners will have the gold income shifted around again, upping ambient gold gains and lowering farm values, so the rewards on the jungle can yet again be readjusted.
Magma Chamber To Be Out Already
Jesus, guys, there's enough "1v1 me noob" going around I want this like, yesterday.
Ward and Vision Changes
This one REALLY caught my eye when Morello mentioned it. For the longest time they had considered taking out pink wards from the game, not just for dealing with stealthers like Akali or Evelynn, but mostly to balance out a lot of the vision fighting that goes on. Most fights for Baron or Dragon won't even happen without at least a pink on the area, and enough drawn-out fights turn into hiding the ward in special places outside of pink range, forcing either an Oracle or expending more pinks.
The recent fixes to Oracle's – well, as recent as fixes ever are – was a nice way of bringing Oracle's back into the game, and reducing the immense risk that put it at risk of being stuck on the support or the tank, whichever could afford it. But many lanes turn into figuring out which stat you can sacrifice for pinks so you can clear wards. This is a thing in bot lane when someone like Leona or Taric wants to initiate, or early dragon, or baron sweeps.
And that's great when you really want that hyper-aggressive lane, but it's becoming more the norm, not just a part of the decision-making process. Warding is a critical component of the game, and Riot, I think, wants to encourage laners to not shove the bill over to support just because they have a special item for it.
This one's probably there to address some of the swingy mechanics that are a bit problematic these days. For instance, a snowbally lane that never stops getting big, or the level 2 kill at bot lane due to being one or two creeps ahead. Someone like Riven can snowball, and it's usually what she's supposed to do, but many people pine for the early days of Season 2, where the game was intense and exciting.
I know that so many pine for Heart of Gold, but being totally fair, it was a terrible item for game balance. It basically endorsed turtling. But the overall game feel it and the cheaper resistances/more expensive damage created was a much more interesting game. Kills were exciting and interesting, and even though they've amped down a lot of the stuff that was really a problem – release Black Cleaver and HP stacking, ugh – it's still nowhere near the level of Season 2 that I really kind of miss.
Is Morello talking about this? I'm not sure, to be honest, but I don't know what else it could be. This has always been the big concern, especially when towers didn't do enough damage and were too easy to shove over, and the fixes that addressed these concerns did shift the flow, but it's still a bit too easy to towerdive and go for kills (and not just champs like Alistar with giant damage reduction ults), even with these changes. People just can pump out too much damage. And even when that's not the case, there's the champs like Lee Sin and Hydra who go top, build a Hydra, and never leave lane.
But as always, we will see what Riot's holding in the coming months.