On Tuesday night I fell asleep reading the 2016 pre-season League of Legends [official site] changes. It is LONG and BIG and OH GOD THEY HAVE CHANGED ALL OF THE THINGS AND ARE YOU SERIOUS IS THERE REALLY GOING TO BE A NEW CLIENT?
I took a break on Wednesday to enjoy a deep tissue massage and then gradually turned into a mess of back pain and hot water bottles after years of terrible freelance desk arrangements came back to haunt me. TODAY I finished reading the changes.
Attempting to go through them all here would be a project capable of consuming weekends so you should have a proper look at the official microsite yourself. It's pretty comprehensive. What I'll do is highlight the big 'uns:
Big 'Un Number One: NEW CLIENT IN PROGRESS
"The current League of Legends client has been your companion for the past six years, but it's in sore need of an upgrade. We've been working hard to make that happen, and beginning during the 2016 Season we'll invite community members to test and give feedback on a work-in-progress alpha version of the updated client."
The intention is to be able to walk nonchalantly away from the pile of legacy tech that powers the current client and go with this shiny new one which should not only be better for the present but a bit more future-proof given Riot has spent the last few years becoming ever more aware of the limitations of this one.
If you want in on that alpha there will be signups. You'll need to be level 30 and if you've got a history of good in-game behaviour that'll count in your favour.
Big 'Un Number Two: Champ Select
My experiences with League and who gets to play what are basically like games of snap where a bunch of people shout MID! or ADC! or whatever and the role (in theory) goes to whoever got their call into chat first.
Now there is champ select where you pick what kind of role you want to play and the game works to accommodate that. Here's the process as they outline it now:
"Requiring two positions ensures short queue times and that no one on your team gets stuck in a position they don't want to play. We know some options (*cough* support and jungle) aren't always quite as popular, and plan to incentivize these roles with IP bonuses if necessary."
Big 'Un Number Three: Ranked Friends 4 Eva
Ranked solo/duo play will allow for groups of any size from solo to full teams. Obviously it would be silly to continue calling it solo queue so it will be dynamic group queue. I will be referring to it as the My Little Pony queue because it's being built around the idea that friendship is magic.
Big 'Un Number Four: Lootin' And Craftin'
This is about loot drops and earning champs/champ skins. The idea is that through playing you'll earn keys, key fragments (to craft into keys) and chests which give loot from champ rentals to permanent ownership.
"Mastery Chests will be tied to your post-game grades, which have always been a combination of your personal and team performance for that game. We're still settling on the number of chests we'll give out this way over the year (so it's not a grind and we can get a clear view of the ecosystem we're creating), but we'll also be exploring ways to give out chests (and keys) for other modes and events."
There are also some disenchantment and re-roll options.
I'm interested in how this one will play out and whether, if you play a lot but there are only a set number of chests, if you'll end up with an inventory heaving with key fragments. I don't have a lot of interest in the obsessive gun collection/upgrade/pre-TTK-reroll side of Destiny and with nothing to absorb them I am now swimming in weapon parts and glimmer.
Big 'Un Five: Wanna Join My Gang?
This is more of that friendship is magic side of LoL. The idea is that there will be persistent groups called clubs which sound like clans or guilds. The idea is that you can grow a group of likeminded players who you can easily get in touch with for a game.
If you're after something that lasts an evening rather than indefinitely there are parties. Parties are a way of setting up a group for a game and then allowing people to swap in and out with a chat room that persists across the gaming session but not after it disperses.
Lastly there will be a friends app so you can get in touch with people and set up games from your mobile.
Well, I wrote about the other pre-season changes earlier and I'm still interested in the same things I was back then. One extra thing I would say about the pre-season mega-post is that if you have been playing for a little while but are having trouble with items it might be interesting to look at the marksmen itemisation section. It's decent for getting you to think about why particular items will be good for achieving particular things. Might help if you're struggling with how that side of things works, even in a different MOBA.