Every competitive game is in an eternal war of keeping balance. In League of Legends the scale is in constant motion, when new items and champions are introduced. Coupled with players thinking of new builds and strategies, more often than not someone's favourite champion will fall victim to the “nerf bat”.
Lead Content Designer “Morello” from Riot Games has come forward to justify the most recent heavy nerfs that have graced League of Legends.
Recent patches have delivered nerfs to some of the most popular champions in League of Legends. Morello, the Lead Content Designer for League of Legends took to the forums to explain the reasoning behind them.
“The first high-level point to reconcile is that power creep has gotten out of hand”. said Morello. “Much of our Season 3 initiative was directly centered on letting us fix that exact problem – which may be unintuitive at first.”
“Power creep” is the gradual unbalancing of a game due to successive releases of new content. In the case of League of Legends, new heroes and items are released on a monthly basis, which can make old heroes and items feel redundant.
“Power creep is very insidious over time, because it happens slowly and gradually – and a game with new content has greater risk of succumbing to it than more static games.” stated Morello. “This leads to a problem to where power gets in the way of decision-making and counter-play by creating an arms race between competing factors (champions, in many cases).”
For a good example of this look to the battles during Season 2 between the most popular Fighters, Tanks and AD Carries. Tanks could build themselves into nigh-invulnerable shields, while Carries would do insane amounts of burst damage in mere seconds.
Wouldn’t nerfing these builds and itemization be a better option?
“Changing the items was step one – get the right baselines for these values. Now, with that settled, we need to undo the arms race by bringing total power in League of Legends down.” explained Morello. “Some of that was done with AD items, some of that is nerfing fighters and doing other changes. Many of the sweeping changes you’ll see are revolved around these classes as we get their power back under control, or enhance gameplay/counter-play loops.”
It’s clear that this balancing act isn’t as simple as some might think, initially it could be viewed as a game in itself, constantly keeping power in check in an everlasting fencing match. But what about on the other end of the spectrum: buffing those that lack power?
“We actually do quite a bit, but these tend to be more easily-forgotten than nerfs. Additionally, some really outdated champs (Heimerdinger, for example) need heavier work to get them up-to-par. We have a relaunches team who is focused on just that!” explained Morello.
“One other factor is when a champion being good creates poor gameplay or interactions. League’s design direction involves a heavy dose of decision-points and counterplay. And not just countering like champ X beats champ Y, but action A can be responded to in skilled and interesting ways.” said Morello. “Nerfing AP Tryndamere is an example of this, where gameplay fidelity is extremely diminished if that concept is powerful.”
What do you think to the recent nerfs, have any of your favourite champions been affected?