League of Legends champions can vary quite wildly in how they look, not just in character design, but in how much care and technical expertise went into their creation. This puts some of the MOBAs champions in stark contrast with one another, especially when an aging model goes head to head with one of the shiny new releases.
Graphical improvements are made in video games all the time, with artists given more tools and time to bring their vision to your monitor. How does a game like League of Legends keep up with this seemingly infinite uptick in graphical fidelity, and is it possible to maintain a balance when you have over 160 different characters to update?
A Reddit user created a post going into how they believe there are around 40 champions that are currently in desperate need of a visual update. Going off their assumption that Riot is currently completing around 2 visual updates a year, it would take 20 years to complete the ‘essential’ upgrades, with more champion models becoming outdated in that time.
A little digging shows that this isn’t exactly true. Riot is currently on track for around 6 visual updates a year, with the bulk of that being small tweaks to champions like Leona, rather than full upgrades like the Fizz ones we saw in August. This does take the 20-year timeline down to nearly seven years, which is a marked improvement until we consider that this time is being taken to merely catch up.
The Reddit post offers a solution; no champion that needs a visual upgrade gets a new skin until that upgrade is complete. It’s a drastic change, but considering Riot would only be adding more work for itself by adding new skins, the idea isn’t completely without merit.
A commenter adds their two cents to the discussion: “Is it really ok for Cho’gath to look the way he does in 10 years? I think it’s fair to expect a billion-dollar company to be able to visually update its outdated champs in less than a decade.”
It’s a tough situation for the developer to be in. Their game has such longevity that we’re now seeing a lot of discrepancies between new releases and older models, and with no signs of a League of Legends 2 ever appearing, it’s an issue that’s only going to get worse.
To keep up to date with the non-visual changes, check out the League of Legends 12.17 patch notes, and if you’re interested in how the champion balances are decided, this piece on League of Legends Zeri nerfs should give you more insight. Creating a game is tough, it’s like spinning an infinite number of plates while getting pelted by tightly-balled-up $20 notes.