As a casual League of Legends player who comes from a background in Blizzard Entertainment's Heroes of the Storm, the way in which Riot manages the MOBA's roster intrigues and, at times, frustrates me.
I don't bring up both titles to compare their success to one another. But the design philosophies of Heroes, in my opinion, create a healthier pool of playable characters within the title while the other continues to put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig, just a bit prettier.
On Wednesday afternoon, the League of Legends development team revealed their 156th champion, Akshan, a high-flying, gun-slinging assassin that players will soon be able to get their hands on. Within minutes of his kit being made public, players flocked to social media and the game's official subreddit to give their initial thoughts. Based on the top posts within the sub at the end of the day, a common theme appears: players aren't very happy.
With a complex kit that fits the needs of a champion being released in the year 2021, players are left wondering: "Well, what about my favorite champion? Akshan has a swiss army knife built into his kit while my Amumu can barely do... anything."
Quickly, longtime fans of the franchise are finding the champions they grew up with playing, loving, and earning thousands upon thousands of mastery points on slowly fading into obscurity. Showing off your elite skill with Orianna doesn't hold a candle to the ceiling of recent champions such as Gwen, Yone, or Samira who can take over games completely due to their suped-up kits at launch.
Riot is aware of this problem (to an extent).
A couple of times a year, outdated champions receive gameplay updates. In those, their kits are touched up or reworked to better represent who they are (or should be) in today's game. The problem is that for every one old champion being reworked, two new ones are being released. Why bother being a Xin Zhao, Taliyah, or Aurelion Sol main if they aren't slated to be reworked in the near future when every three months a champion with a significantly better kit is being released?
There's no pride in being a Teemo main when the game's development team doesn't give the same love and care to the little guy that they do the next flashy project they're working on.
As mentioned earlier, comparing the success of Heroes of the Storm to League of Legends is meaningless for a myriad of reasons. However, one area that I have found comparable is the development team's approach to the pool of playable champions.
In Heroes, there's a smaller pool of champions, 90, but the disparity between the strongest and weakest champion in the game isn't anywhere near that of League of Legends. Not only is a larger emphasis placed on bringing the kits of older heroes into the present to provide a healthier gameplay experience for fans of all shapes and sizes within the Heroes of the Storm community, but it's done so in a manner that is more welcoming to returning players who don't constantly have to learn new characters.
If it's not your favorite heroes' turn for a rework now, it soon will be and you can look forward to that in the near future.
For example, in the year 2019, the Heroes of the Storm development team released four new playable champions and overhauled eight existing one's kits. Meanwhile, League saw five new champions but only four saw gameplay reworks. The trend continued into 2020 where six champions came out in League and just three were reworked.
When new champions (or heroes) are revealed, players should stand united in excitement and ponder the cool ways in which their main can counter the opposition, not think "Wow, I wish the development team cared as much about my champion as they do this one."
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.