One of Riot’s employees summed up his impressions of pre-season 2023. Are the developers satisfied with it?
Pre-season 2023 was a really interesting time because it introduced a lot of changes to the game. The developers didn’t know which of them would be accepted and which would turn out to be a complete flop. Quite a few novelties appeared as experiments, and as a result, they were eventually removed or reworked.
Today, some time after the start of the preseason, Riot can take a cold look at everything and assess what actually worked.
Analysis of the 2023 LoL preseason
Riot Phroxzon, the chief game designer for the Summoner’s Rift team, spoke in detail about the various elements that were introduced as part of the pre-season updates. In his statement, he touched on the new jungle pets, the ping wheel and Chemtech Dragon, among others.
We set out to refresh Chemtech because we thought the thematic had promise, but we didn’t think the previous stealth mechanic hit the mark on player excitement, while player frustration was quite high. Since re-launch, Chemtech Dragon has gone from the most hated Elemental Terrain to the most loved according to our sentiment surveys (with Hextech coming in second).
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Players have found the high moments of popping blast cone into blast cone, chasing someone down with a scryer’s bloom or swinging a fight with honeyfruit to be very fun while still feeling like League. We’re continuing to update our sensibilities on what this means for variant and impactful map gameplay on the Rift moving forward.
Over time, jungle had become less popular and less approachable, especially in average play. Players were being autofilled into the jungle very frequently in lower-skill brackets and due to the large difference to other roles, it negatively impacted queue health. Since the changes, jungle queue rates have seen a strong initial spike (significantly more in lower skill brackets) and we’re still looking for additional ways to add satisfaction (but not power) to the role and we’ll continue to monitor how the role queue rates hold up.
Our goals with the jungle changes were to increase approachability and excitement for new and low frequency jungle players, while still giving exciting new toys to existing junglers and making the hidden jungle mechanics more intuitive with the jungle pets. Our sentiment surveys show existing players have found the changes to be moderately positive (moreso in the eastern servers than western ones), while new junglers have found the changes to be very positive.
There’s still room for improvement, specifically the power of the jungle role, optimal pathing and finely tuning the balance of ganking vs farming. After reducing jungle gank power in 13.3 with trinket and treat changes, plus the economy, snowballing, and pathing adjustments in 13.4 (making gromp side of jungle easier to clear), we think it will be in a good spot power wise.
But we still think there are more changes we can do to increase satisfaction in the role, including tweaks to the balance of XP vs Gold and ganking vs farming.
The response to communication tools has been a bit more mixed. Ping wheels have overall positive sentiment, but the number of pings and accidentally using the wrong ping are causing some frustration. All-In has been the most used of the new pings, with the other new pings seeing 3-4 usages per game.
For veteran players, it’s been hard to unlearn a decade of muscle memory, but we wanted to set the groundwork for communication of core League of Legends concepts and upgrade the art to the modern quality bar. A newer player entering the game doesn’t understand that pinging “On my Way” on an enemy champion means to “all-in”, whereas a veteran player might. We expect usage of these new pings to increase over time.
We’re still looking into ways to help players not ping the wrong thing and are investigating several options here, such as increasing the size of the inner/outer wheels, showing the cursor when pinging and some other solutions. Additionally, with this new technical foundation, it’s a lot easier to adjust, adding, and remove pings from the ping wheel, depending on their performance
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Currently, sentiment surrounding the objective planning tool varies from neutral to moderately positive depending on region (Eastern regions have a higher rating than Western regions, which are more neutral). Players have found it useful to inform them that an objective take is occurring, but negative sentiment is centered around lack of clarity of what the team wants to do with a vote, team not listening to a vote, and players not using it (mainly due to the aforementioned issues).
We’re investigating ways to better focus the objective planning tool to ensure it has a clear, understandable, and focused use case and is factually used.
During Preseason, we made changes to increase the power of top lane (item and experience changes), which were pretty successful, but at the cost of bot lane. Since then, we’ve made changes in 13.1b to increase the power of bot lane itemization, which comes at the cost of top lane. As Riot Axes mentioned in Quick Gameplay Thoughts, we want to increase satisfaction of the roles without needing to adjust the power of the roles up and down so frequently. Moving the power of the role is a great way to increase satisfaction in the role, but often just moves the problem to a different place.