Here to keep you guys in the loop on how things are progressing for the Assassins update as we get closer towards the next Pre-Season. In particular, we’ll be talking today about some of the other changes that will accompany the 4 large updates (Talon, Rengar, Katarina, LeBlanc). Here’s where we’re at:
**Stealth and Vision Adjustments**
We are doing a minor pass on the Stealth and Vision system this Pre-Season. Our first goal is to clarify and unify the different types of Stealth in our game. We will be making a clearer delineation between the 2 types of Stealth in League:
1. **Invisibility** - shorter-term in-combat Stealths that make champions completely unseen such as Kha’zix’s Void Assault.
2. **Camouflage** - longer-term pre-combat Stealths that can be detected through proximity such as Evelynn’s Shadow Walk.
This is part of an overall effort for us to make the game’s mechanics clearer, more flexible, and more consistent using such Keywords.
In addition to this, we want to clarify how Vision detection items like Vision Wards interact with each other as well as with Stealthed champions. All of the details are not sorted out just yet, but 1 big change that will significantly impact Stealth champions is that **“Pink Wards” will no longer detect Invisibility next Pre-Season.** Simply put, Invisibility being trivially countered by the use of a relatively cheap single consumable item rendered several champions non-functional especially at high levels of play. This will allow us to better balance these champions since they will now be able to more readily utilize their Invisibilities in fights such that they no longer have to solely rely on instantly bursting their target or dying to enemy focus fire. To support this change, we are adding in other baseline ways to interact with Stealthed units; one example we’re exploring is a shimmer that opponents can see when they hit Stealthed enemies (i.e. with a skillshot). This should give enemies a good sense of where the Stealthed target is so they can follow up and chase them down.
We are still currently exploring how we want Camouflage to interact with Vision detection items - this may remain unchanged going into the next season. Either way, expect some tweaks to champions who leverage Stealth as they will now have to be re-balanced with these new rules in play. Twitch, for example, is a champion whose current Stealth tunings may not be as reasonable going into the next Season.
Finally we are doing a small pass on Assassin itemization and one of the most problematic stats in the game - Flat Armor Penetration.
Flat Armor Penetration has always had a couple big issues that we’re finally looking to resolve. Firstly, the term Armor Penetration can be misleading as it suggests itself as a strong counter to heavily Armored opponents, despite the fact that it specializes in actually taking out low Armor targets. And secondly, the nature of Flat Penetration and how it competes with Champion base Armor growth has always made it particularly feast of famine mechanic in the game. Either you get ahead of the curve and outpace your opponent’s natural Armor scaling or you fall horribly behind and quickly find yourself useless. We still want Assassins to be focused on dominating the midgame and snowballing ahead to succeed, but having their primary stat so heavily reinforce this pattern made them far too one dimensional. Next Pre-Season, be on the lookout for a Flat Armor Penetration “rework” of sorts.
Additionally, the current Assassin Itemization options are, simply put, not always best serving the needs of Assassins relative to those of other classes. In that light, we’re retuning items that are intended for Assassins to better suit their own needs. We want to reinforce their ability to roam the map and survive tricky situations as well as add some new avenues to provide benefits to their team as a whole. Although this won’t be an overhaul anywhere near as large as we did for the Marksmen, look forward to tinkering around with the item shop a bit with the next Pre-Season.
**Smaller Scale Champion Updates**
As with previous Class updates, many other Assassins will be receiving minor updates. The overarching goals here are to firstly address any champions that will overshadow the rest of the cast (whether it be through being overly generalist or just lacking sufficient counterplay) and secondly to push differentiation and uniqueness within the class itself.
The range of change here varies quite a bit from entirely new kit additions to just simple tuning changes. Here’s a quick runthrough on the current list of champions we’re currently considering and why. Note that these are all still tentative and we may choose to remove some or add more as we inch closer to the finish line.
Akali is another champion we believe needs a full Visual Gameplay Update to realize her full potential. Despite that, we’re exploring some small scale changes that will give her more ways to outplay her opponents, but are also looking to resolve some of the gameplay health issues that stem from her split identity as both a bursty Assassin and a sustained Fighter. On top of this, Akali will be one of the major beneficiaries of the Pink Ward no longer detecting Invisibility change as it was one of the primary ways to shut her down previously - moving forward Akali and her target should both have a bit more time to breathe in the midst of combat.
Although not strictly an Assassin, we felt this was an opportunity once again to better align Ekko with his intended gameplay and fantasy; we are continuing to push Ekko away from being a pure Tank and instead more towards being an AP damage threat. Even though we’ve been inching him in that direction for a while, we think some minor shifts here will go a long way into solidifying his identity.
We’re looking to retain Fizz’s unique arsenal of evasive tricks but force him to make hard decisions about when and where to use them by giving Fizz more incentive to play with his food before he ultimately feeds them to his Shark. We also want to give Fizz a bit more flexibility in the lane especially when he’s on the back foot and forced to just last hit minions. To top it all off, we’re exploring cool ways of further pushing Fizz’s unique identity as the Assassin with strong initiation potential.
One of Kha’Zix’s core tenets is to evolve and adapt - we want Kha’Zix players to feel like they are constantly re-considering which evolutions to take based on the context of the current game as well as their own playstyle. And although we want to continue to keep Isolation as the way Kha’Zix primarily succeeds, we are taking this opportunity to limit his instant burst damage and empower him to utilize the tools he has to follow-up and finish his victims.
Although we think Shaco is ultimately in need a full VGU-esque update, we wanted to take some time to give him a quick tune up. We want to give him back some of the cool tricks he used to have (as well as some new ones), but at the same time address some of the long-term game health issues he has always presented (overbearing early ganks and relentless split pushing).
Although an already solid part of the roster, Zed can be an overly generalist choice in the Assassin space due to his relatively safe early game and his effective Assassination tools. Outside of some tuning adjustments, we’re looking for some interesting ways to make Zed think more carefully about the opposing team composition and in particular who he chooses to Death Mark throughout the game.