A few months ago, we talked with you all about what you loved about Sona, and what you thought could be better. We also had numerous internal discussion about the faults in her design along with the things about Sona that make her a great part of League of Legends. The product of those dialogues, along with many weeks of exploration and testing, is a updated Sona kit that will be hitting PBE very soon.
However, we are going to be using PBE a bit differently this time. Sona is getting out to PBE much earlier in the development process, with much of her VFX still in progress, and the design still very much in iteration. The main reason for this is to get the maximum amount of feedback on Sona. We know how many people love Sona, and we want to ensure that we give as much of a window for people to check out what we’re doing with her and give us their thoughts.
This also means that players will get a chance to see a much longer window of development. The good side of this is way more time to absorb and react to the feedback we get, the downside is that there will be more bugs and pre-final game balance, art and audio.
As far as the actual kit changes, the gameplay update is focused almost entirely on updating what an aura can be in league of legends. The primary goal is to transform Sona’s auras from giant stat bubbles to high impact “Snuggle Zones.” (Thanks Feral Pony!) Sona’s old auras granted her allies a tremendous amount of power (100 AP/AD on Q for example), but they weren't well communicated, and didn’t create new gameplay. Sona’s allies didn’t play differently with Sona’s auras, they just did everything invisibly better.
Sona now gets much smaller zones, and they now grant short duration buffs of condensed power to any ally Sona tags with the zone. This means that Sona players need to care when they give these buffs, and giving these buffs to the entire team requires skilled positioning and more team interaction. It also means that allies can make skillful use of the auras, rewarding teamplay and coordination. The goal was to increase the tactical and strategic choices Sona makes without increasing the mechanical complexity required to play Sona well.
* Hymn of Valor: Zone grants bonus magic damage on the next auto for Sona and any ally tagged.
* Aria of Perseverance: Zone grants a short duration shield.
* Song of Celerity: Grants a short duration % move speed buff.
We’ve also made some changes to Sona’s basic abilities to improve allied and enemy interaction. These changes aim to create some space for the new aura gameplay, and to ensure that Sona has windows of power and downtime, vs the previous patterns that allowed for the fire and forget, spammy spell patterns.
The cooldown on all of Sona’s abilities have changed from 7 seconds to 10 seconds. There are two reasons for this change. The first is that Sona needs more time to use the new auras without having permanent uptime. The second is to give Sona’s opponents windows to interact with Sona. Increasing the impact of all of Sona’s aura gameplay also means that Sona needs to have more downsides to balance so that her choices have weight and meaning.
Aria of Perseverance’s base heals have been lowered, but now scale with the target’s missing health. This mean’s that Sona’s ability to get ahead and then erase any damage her opponents do is much more costly for Sona, while Sona’s ability to save her allies with reactive casts on W is much improved.
Song of Celerity’s cast now grants Sona a big increase in MS that ramps down to the boost she gives her allies. This gives Sona the tools to position herself to get the most out of her Q and W.
Along with the gameplay update, Riot Phoenix and BuyFilm have been working to update the readability of Sona’s VFX. The biggest change is making sure that Crescendo has particles that actually show what it does mechanically. So far, Sona players have been very happy to fully understand what their ult actually does, and be able to make better plays from that information. We’d love to hear from everyone on these particles as well.
Normally, we’d give a full change list here, but a lot of numbers are still in flux. We’ll give out more info as we push to PBE and as we dial her it as we approach her release.
We’ll be happy to try and answer any and all questions you all have, but there will be limited information on numbers and balance right now. Questions on Sona’s design goals or development are going to be a lot more easily answered, as we’ve been consistent on those as we’ve been prototyping these changes. Can’t wait to hear from everyone!