A brief glance at the changes coming Soraka’s way in the next LoL patch wouldn’t betray anything worth getting worked up about - her core healing ability has been boosted, and she now imbues her patients with a life-extending level of armour.
But a couple of predicted side effects have upset players, and prompted a response from Riot - who were merely attempting to prepare the champion for some of the changes coming to support roles in their preseason patch.
Players have complained about a gradual decrease in Soraka’s healing’s duration, from five seconds to two, and the loss of an old passive - both of which they worry will reduce her viability as a dedicated healer.
“We're not trying to nerf Soraka,” said Riot’s lead champion designer, Meddler. “Instead aiming to adjust her play style to fit with the preseason changes and have a healthier pattern (in combat saves and action over staying back and topping off her team).
“As with all the core supports we've made some adjustments to if this does turns out to be a giant nerf we'll put some power back into them in the follow up patch. Similarly if our assessments been wrong in the other direction, and some supports end up too strong following the preseason patch, we'll tone their power down.”
In short, Riot are perfectly prepared to rewind the clock on Soraka should her players appear to be suffering a week or two after the patch’s launch.
But one astute forumite noted that Riot seemed to be struggling to hit a tricky point on a spectrum. Should they empower Soraka too much, she’ll neutralise all her enemies’ attacks, to tedious effect; nerf her healing abilities further, however, and she’ll simply drop out of common rotation.
“That's still a concern,” Meddler admitted, “and something we may have to address with bigger kit changes (not just number adjustments) at a later date.
“These changes are intended to shift her towards a more interesting and healthy playstyle though, with healing that cools down quicker in combat [and] is most effective on those in real need,” he went on. “If she turns out to be too weak we'll likely buff some of those strengths a bit more.”
Meddler admitted that the growing experience of jungle players throughout the game has made it harder for slower, focused supports like Soraka to compensate. As such, he suspects issues will crop up again in the healer’s future.
“We'd like supports to be strong choices, picked for their utility in particular,” he said. “If it turns out after this patch goes out that we've overestimated how strong they'll be (could well happen) we'll buff, likely in the next patch.”
That’s the nature of LoL’s development: tiny tweaks yield unforeseen consequences, and subsequent patches are pushed out faster than you can say ‘balance wobble’. How do you think that approach is working for Riot at this stage in the game’s life?
Thanks, Reign of Gaming.