Kalista: LoL’s Newcomer Aimed At Teaching Teamwork

Working it

League of Legends has announced the latest champion to grace Summoner’s Rift. She’s Kalista, The Spear of Vengeance and the header character art has her sporting the same “deconstructed” hunched pose you’ll see liberally sprinkled throughout America’s Next Top Model photoshoots. Let’s take a closer look.

I’ll get onto what she actually does in a moment but I’d say Kalista would get a pretty good review for this on a classic-era America’s Next Top Model panel. Miss J would adore the broken-down doll attitude and Tyra would be all “Girl, this is FIIIIII-ERCE – you know your angles!” Then Nigel would chip in with a comment about how you need to be able to find your light and probably hold Kal (they would be calling her Kal at this point) up as an example.

“Look at what Kal’s doing with her eyes, making them entirely illuminated – you need to be able to do that.” The other girls would stand there trying to look like they were taking the criticism well and wondering if Target sells eyeball LEDs or something. Paulina or Twiggy would be pleased that the product was so clearly in shot. Tyra would then affect an accent of indeterminate origin and tell everyone how right she was about the massive ebony extensions she ordered for Kal during makeover week.

She would make it to the final episode and then, during the pause before the winner gets announced I feel like she would probably do something like spearing the entire judging panel with an enchanted mascara wand and screaming “THAT’S FOR KATARZYNA*, YOU JERKS”.

Anyway, here’s how she works. Kalista is a character who’s built around teamwork and especially strong communication with one of your allies in particular. She has the aforementioned Spear of Vengeance which she can use to create a bond between herself and an ally champion (with their consent) for the remaining duration of the game

In order to make full use of her skills you need to have her working in tandem with others so I’m wondering whether this is part of a push by Riot towards co-operation and rewarding good teamwork. In my experience, with characters which depend more heavily on others than usual they can either demonstrate great communication or become a fiery cauldron of resentment, chat-blaming and anger.

Ah! I’ve just checked the game design post and designer Bradford Wenban says, “Kalista is for players who enjoy or want to improve at taking the pulse of teammates and working together toward a win […] Kalista highlights the cooperative end-state in which she and her ally are most likely to succeed and offers a tool kit to enable players to reach that state.”

Friends are people who kill minions together

Here’s an example of the teamwork aspect: Kalista has Sentinel as her W skill. The active bit of that gives a patrolling ward spirit which screams at the sight of enemies. The vision it gives helps take some of the warding pressure off supports. The passive aspect of that is called Soul-Marked and means if she and the character she’s bound to hit a minion, monster or enemy at the same time they deal bonus magic damage.

“Tools to cooperate are interesting in that they include more than just formal power. In this vein, Kalista’s kit endeavors to facilitate teamwork by resolving incentives for selfish play and visually communicating intent.”

*What do you mean “Time to let that one go?”


  1. RedViv says:

    A female champion who is only modestly endowed and hunched over and looks sickly and desiccated? Are we completely certain this is League of Legends?

    • Xocrates says:

      League has grown really REALLY inconsistent with their female representation, particularly of late.

      Counting Kalista, of their 5 last female champs only one has skimpy attire (Jinx) and she’s completely flat chested. Counting the 5 before that we have Nami, Elise, and Zyra which are respectively a fish, a spider, and a plant with massive chests and not much in the way of clothing, but those same 5 include Diana which is probably their most badass female design.

      • RedViv says:

        Damn the horrible Sohshul Justices for enforcing variety! Why can’t they leave boring design alone!

        (Also: No, Pip. Never leave it alone. Never.)

        • Xocrates says:

          I know, right? It’s almost like they want people to take videogames seriously and grow as a medium.

        • Distec says:

          You’re so adorable. You should get a hip-lookin’ hat, because posts like that are totally how you get one.

      • Philomelle says:

        It’s been steadliy improving over the last few years, with character designs growing more reasonable and there being efforts to improve on the general presentation.

        But then the new wave of splash arts rolled out and they didn’t just take a step back, they tumbled ten feet and down a cliff. Between Kayle’s ridiculous boob plate (which literally has metal frying pans in the form of E-cups bolted onto her armor), Vayne missing her right buttcheek for the sake of making a dumb T&A pose possible, Ahri’s spine being warped into a grotesque pretzel for the sake of showing off her “assets” and Caitlyn’s legs literally not connecting to her torso, it might as well be renamed League of Rob Liefeld.

        And then there’s the thing where their new splash artist apparently never met a woman in real life and thinks all of them have the exact same face with different eye colors.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Also, the new splash art has “ENORMOUS HAND” as a dominant theme.

          • RedViv says:

            I actually wondered whether they had some sort of THREEEE DEEEE graphics technology in mind when waving most of the new splashes through. It’s really hard to find one that does not rely on the invention of Sir Percy Periwinkle-Throwingtatatyou.

          • Philomelle says:

            ENORMOUS HAND seems to be this artist’s entire idea of perspective, since it’s present in one way or another on most of the new splash art.

          • Xocrates says:

            I doubt it’s just one guy, as opposed to a directive to make the splash more “dynamic” (which Riot has mentioned wanting to do in the past), but yeah, the “grabbing at the camera” style it’s kind of rubbish.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            @RedViv: Actually, the work of Sir Percy Periwinkle-Throwingtatatyou isn’t ready for commercial use, since nobody wants to tear out their own eyes and replace them with special custom eyes. The Ocular Rip is not likely to be a huge success.

        • Zankman says:

          Indeed, it’s very disappointing. Bad art and sacrificing quality for the sake of T&A is horrible in on itself… And although sexy is of course welcome in video-games, LoL just continues to oversaturate the female roster with sexy – instead of some of the characters being sexy and some not, most of them are. Cuz reasons (reasons: horny tasteless teenagers).

          Although there aren’t thing like Splash Arts in DotA 2, it’s also going on a bad trend, with the likes of Death Prophet suddenly getting leggy and then blatant “dat ass” cosmetics (next thing you know she will get a huge chest with cleavage).

          • Philomelle says:

            I enjoy sexy as much as the other person. What I don’t appreciate is sexualized, with the character’s body parts being given more attention than the character themselves. The new art suffers badly from that, what’s with Ahri’s tits being treated as the focal point of her new splash art (which has since been removed because people hated it) and Kayle’s boob plate occupying a third of her in-game portrait.

            It’s like the artist doesn’t actually know what “sexy” means, he just goes “durr boobies /wipes drool on shirt” and makes an image roughly as attractive as that thought process.

    • int says:

      I would.

    • ssh83 says:

      It seems you can’t see a female being in gaming without immediately having these things brought up. That’s really sad. A year ago i was beginning to feel that women gamers were starting to be accepted as gamer first, women second. Now… it’s about the gender issue first, gamer identity (assuming still alive) second. So sad…

      • Xocrates says:

        I honestly do not get what you’re talking about. First because no-one mentioned female gamer (or gamers, at that) anywhere else in any of the comments, and second because character variety is a good thing regardless of gender – and this is only noteworthy because female character variety is particularly poor in the realm of videogames and something LoL in particular has struggled with.

        What exactly is “sad” about being able to play more varied characters?

    • Daniel Klein says:

      You joke, but this is part of a very deliberate push on our side to embrace a wider range of female looks.

      (Disclaimer as always: I work at Riot)

      • jrodman says:

        I think it’s a deliberately tongue-in-cheek joke.

        I think Riot has gotten attention for trying, though also sometimes for not succeeding as well as one might hope (see above).

      • Philomelle says:

        A deliberate push that doesn’t seem to be succeeding, given that your recent splash arts reduced most other female characters to same-faced sets of thighs and breasts.

  2. shinkshank says:

    Well, at least they’re trying in terms of ability loadouts. The sentinel thingy is sorta neat, and at least they incorporated the usual dash into the also-usual autoattack modifier. Sure, they’re still equipping her with the classic long ranged poke/nuke and an AoE knockup, but at least it’s SOMEWHAT different and unique.

  3. X_kot says:

    But Pip, what would Janice say?!

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      Philippa Warr says:

      I like to think Janice would probably be sprawled across the judging desk at this point for no discernible reason. She would also clearly have Kal as her favourite because Janice LOOOOOOOVES a badass

  4. Jamesworkshop says:

    link to img3.wikia.nocookie.net

    Actually i’m getting a slight vibe of the riddler in “the batman” animated series

    link to images2.fanpop.com

    The pointy chin, long dark hair and a generally sharp and languid appearance, sorta greyhoundish

    different chromatic scheme but not all that different

  5. Nevard says:

    So she’s a sexy version of DotA 2’s Wisp?
    Could do with imitating her inspiration a bit more though and rounding out a bit, maybe not quite into an ethereal sphere but perhaps into less of a skeleton.

  6. Jonty says:

    As somebody who neither plays LoL or watches America’s Next Top Model, I have to commend this article for combing both to entertaining and informative effect.

  7. Daniel Klein says:

    You’ll notice that Bradford “CertainlyT” Wenban previously designed Thresh. The man knows a thing or two about compelling cooperative design.