O, momentous day. The new year finally brings a new digit to League of Legends’ update schedule. Begone, ye three-point-wotsits - in 2014 we’re all about the four-point-whatevers. All change at Riot, then, you might imagine. Maybe the incremental shifts in balance and gradual tweaks to jungling have given way to a new focus on florid particle effects and clumsily rendered vehicular warfare. Or maybe not.
“Aside from getting that +1, our general design philosophy for the new season isn’t changing,” said Riot player relations man Chris Tom. “We’re still closely watching the state of the game as it evolves with the preseason, and this update is just another step down that path.”
Patch 4.1’s general theme is, as ever, “refinement and retuning”. But it also brings some subtle changes to vision and fog of war, which Riot say will become “more dynamic and responsive” over the coming year. For the time being, players should notice projectiles register more quickly when champions cast abilities from the fog of war.
In-game vision will now react more promptly to the effects of abilities like Lux’s Lucent Singularity, and disabled wards will cause the fog of war to darken.
“We’re in the process of de-fogging more of those outliers like Shyvana, Riven and Annie,” said Tom.
Those champions have all had their abilities shunted about in the new patch, too. Shyvana’s been quietly nerfed for the early game, where Burnout and Flame Breath were dealing too much damage - “even when she builds tanky”.
“It turns out that when Shyvana can push, wave clear and out-trade opponents all at once, things can get a little frustrating,” explained Tom. “We’re cooling some of that dragon blood down to make her early bullying more manageable.”
Annie’s been a similarly dangerous early game encounter, and Riot want to give her lane opponents “some more room to breathe”. To that end, they’ve shortened Pyromania’s stun duration at earlier levels.
“We’ve given [summon] Tibbers more late game playtime to compensate,” said Tom. “This should lessen a bit of Annie’s power without incinerating her overall strengths.”
In Riven’s case, the new update brings a slight refocusing of her abilities. While her base attack damage has been lowered, her attack damage per level has increased to compensate.
“Riven’s burst damage is just too high at early levels, so we’re dulling her blade,” said Tom. “We’re reducing the duration of Valor to hit some of Riven’s flexibility in lane – if she’s going to rely on Valor’s shield to trade damage, she’ll need to commit quickly or risk losing the shield.”
See Riot's patch page for the full haps on 4.1, which also encompasses minor map changes and a few edited items. Has your favoured champion and strategy emerged unscathed?