League of Legends: Rune revamps and incentivised friendliness

Runes!

Oooh! Riot are prepping for a major overhaul of League of Legends’ [official site] most clunky features: Rune and Masteries! Runes Reforged is the name they’re giving to the project and the devs are hoping it will make the whole arcane faff of that extra layer of customisation into something players won’t refer to as e.g. “an arcane faff” or “League of Legends’ most clunky feature”. Allow me to explain!

Runes and Masteries are extra layers of customisation which affect how you play League of Legends. Runes apply little boosts, so +1.5% increased health here or +0.22% attack damage there. On their own these are generally pretty minor in how they affect play, but you plug them into spaces on a Rune Page to create a cumulative boost to a particular playstyle. When you play the game you pick which page you want to use in the game but you can’t customise it in accordance with how you suspect the game will go based on the specific champions who will be played. In my experience people tend to just set up rune pages, often based on templates other people have put online, and then don’t really interact with them on a granular level.

Masteries are skill trees you put points into as another way of building around a playstyle. They actually got simplified from a multi-branch tree to a three-tier thing already. As a result it’s clearer what you’re picking and the strength of the impact it will have on the game but it’s still another level of faff to deal with.

AND SO! The preseason will bring with it this Runes Reforged effort. The preseason is the bit of time after the annual World Championship and before the Spring Split of the next season of professional play. Because no srs bsns is being conducted at this point in time the development team are able to make the big changes to the game without ruining pro leagues. This year the preseason will kick in from November and will combine Runes and Masteries into a single system.

“Instead of many, mostly incremental, choices about stats, new runes concentrate the power down to a more focused set of choices that have a greater impact on gameplay,” is the way League of Legends’ lead producer, New001 phrased it.

It’s a work in progress so the details might change but the current idea is to make the most important and impactful choice be the keystone rune you use and then you augment/refine that with your other decisions.

One example is to build around the Berserk keystone rune. That one would give you a 60% attack speed boost and temporarily raise your attack speed cap after your character has spent a few seconds in combat. Another example is a Perxie build – Perxie being the name of the fairy-like companion it bestows on you and whom you can deploy to shield allies or do additional damage to enemies. A third mention went to Overheal which takes any healing above and beyond your usual maximum and converts it into an overshield.

Friend!

The latter would be useful as a response to a draft where teammates have picked champs like Soraka or Sona and healing is going to be flying around like gnats on a summer evening. With that in mind the idea is to have this new system be fully editable from the champion select part of the game. Instead of having those rune and mastery pages where you need to build in some flexibility in case the champion draft is weird, you’d be able to use them to respond to the specific game.

The other big thing to note here is that Riot want to make the runes free of charge. At the moment you need to pay to unlock them with one of the in-game currencies (the one you get from playing games) so runes are things you need to budget for alongside (and sometimes instead of) champions and other digital doodads. The intention is that a) it’s easier to try out new builds because you’re not having to do that at the expanse of anything else and b) if players aren’t needing to chuck currency at runes they can chuck it at champions thus beefing up their available champ pool faster. In anticipation of the tsunami of “BUT I HAVE SPENT ALL OF MY INFLUENCE POINTS EVER ON RUNES AND LIFE IS AWFUL HOW COULD YOU DO THIS RITO PLS” New001 notes that Rito Riot have a plan to take care of players who spent their points on runes before this new system. They do not detail the plan so I’m assuming details are being hammered out and hot Reddit takes may or may not guide the company towards a preferred solution. It’ll also probably necessitate some changes to the economy around that particular form of currency.

Also mentioned in the video and worth a nod because I like that stuff is the Honor system changes. That’s the one where you reward other players for not being jerks.
The Honor system change is coming a lot sooner – hopefully the upcoming 7.13 patch after a bit of time on the beta environment. The thinking there is to make good behaviour rewards far more visible as well as being more desirable. To that end when someone’s nexus explodes and the game ends you’ll immediately get prompted to honor teammates. The flavours of honor are Shotcalling, Not Tilting, and Being Nice To Play With. That should tell you something about the basic challenges of online multiplayer if you are unfamiliar with the delights it can offer. Your honor stat can go up as well as down which is an interesting touch, and high honor levels will make you eligible for exclusive rewards. Perhaps a “NOT A JERK” hat or all of the ward skins because GOOD PEOPLE WARD.

8 Comments

  1. chudbabies says:

    holy fsck, we’re running screaming at the cyberpunk future where people jack their nervous system into a series of machines in order to develop lightning fast reflexes for terraforming all of time and space–! League of Legends spectators may now say, “Oh!” they point, “he running Unicorn Love!”

  2. Ghostwise says:

    As a Path of Exile player, I strenuously object to Ms. Warr’s characterisation of arcane faff as an undesirable thing. :-p

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Well, at least making them free of charge is a big thing. I’d also not mind seeing them removed from the game, but if they’re free at least all players are on a level playing field as far as runes are concerned. Of course, that’s not so much a good thing. Rather, making runes something you have to buy was a terrible decision.

  4. Thirdrail says:

    League needs so much more than this at the moment. It’s gotten so stale. I never thought I would see the day when Heroes of the Storm was more fun than League, but HotS actually makes progress and introduces new maps and now they have the best loot box system in gaming and I can’t even imagine logging in to LoL right now, despite having spent enough money there to buy an entry level car. They need to rewrite their lore so there can be more than one Rift, and then have a version of the Rift (i.e. stadium) for each of their geographic locations. Or release some alternate skins for the maps.

    I don’t think I’m the only one who’s bored, either. I still read Riot’s news every day, and the number of comments on things have plummeted in the last year or so. It’s the same here. Three years ago this article would have had a hundred comments, and today it has three. The game is bleeding English speaking players at an obvious and alarming rate. Riot really needs to get their act together, get out of their comfort zone, and find a way to freshen things up a bit. And by a bit I mean A LOT.

    • Asurmen says:

      What would be the point? Unless you make gameplay changes with those maps, what’s actually changing? And if you do make gameplay changes, you’re talking yet more balance problems to work around.

      Also these sorts of articles never got hundreds of comments, unless it was about something controversial like model/skin design being sexist.

  5. Aetylus says:

    I do wish that just one of the many MOBAs would differentiate themselves as the ‘nice moba’. Instead of giving a little happy face for people not acting putridly towards others, just go all out zero tolerance on toxicity.

    It amazes me that genre can be most well know for how horrific its community is, with so many saying “I’d play except toxicness” and yet not a single one of its many iterations seems to be latching onto the opportunity.

    • Jane Doe says:

      Isn’t that exactly what LoL is doing right now? Rewarding basic human dignity?

      I know what you’re getting at, but the hard approach on toxic players would result in a game shutdown half a year later, because the majority of players are toxic douchebags at times. Its not like cheating or exploiting, which are the exception. Being toxic has always been the rule ever since good old Counterstrike.

      Not everyone is triggered by the same things. Some can accept dumb moves or feeding, but go nuts the moment someone calls “gg” early. Others expect everyone to follow their lead, and just about everyone believes that their rank is too low for their skill, so the rest of the team must be to blame. There are also the passive-aggressive people, the questiontalkers, the meta slaves, and so on …

      Its a difficult topic and the diplomatic approach of rewarding good behavior is probably the only way to tackle the problem without going bankrupt. Reporting players for bad behavior has always been a placebo, but this might actually work.

      I hope Heroes of the Storm copies it, because I can’t stand that cartoon graphic 1-map-wonder called LoL.

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