Hey guys, Reav3 here, Product Lead of Champion Updates. Ever since the Ryze visual and gameplay update (VGU) was announced we have been seeing a lot of questions regarding Ryze and why we're working on him. I thought it might be good to outline some of the reasons we chose to do a bigger Ryze update so soon after the last one.
Why another Ryze Update?**
The decision to prioritize a Ryze VGU was actually due to many small reasons that came together to justify an update. I'll list out some of the thinking below.
A few years back, Riot put together a team called "Foundations" with the goal of developing the look, feel, history, and character of the various parts of the world and its inhabitants. This is the team doing many of the new character bios and the big narrative events you have seen recently (like Shadows of Fortune and the recent Shurima Stories/Bios). We were talking a lot with the foundations team about Ryze and we all wanted to further establish his importance in Runeterra, something we’d never fully solidified previously, and reflect that importance in-game. Since we recently changed our strategy on Champion Update to focus mainly on champions that need Gameplay, this alone wasn't enough to work on Ryze, but we did talk about it. That's reason number one.
The second reason is that honestly the last gameplay iteration of Ryze just didn't hit the mark we wanted. He is either WAY too strong in an experienced player's hands or struggles significantly in a inexperienced players hands. We have tried multiple iterations of "Machine-gun Mage" that “does tons of damage,” and we felt it might be time to try something a little different. While we still want to preserve the iconic feeling of a "Machine-Gun Mage" we thought we could take this opportunity to add something more unique Ryze’s kit. By giving him something more unique we could tone down the “does tons of damage” bit. We also wanted to make a Ryze that had more interesting decisions in his kit and was less reliant on how fast you can push all his buttons in the correct order. On the surface Ryze’s kit can look very simple but he was deceptively hiding one of the highest mastery curve kits in the game. The advantage of dedicating a huge art team to a champion update is that design is free to change and alter whatever they need to. Which brings me to my third reason.
Back when we were doing the last gameplay update to Ryze we actually were also doing a visual update for him. We had a model close to completion but lacked a strong narrative direction and Voice Over to tie his thematic together, so we chose to simply release the gameplay with a texture update. Having a near-complete model/rig meant that we could have an accelerated production process on Ryze should we ever revisit him.
The fact that we felt we needed to go in a different design direction with Ryze's kit, coupled with the fact that we wanted to reinforce Ryze as a key figure made Ryze a prime candidate for a full VGU. That we also had a 80% complete model and could do the update in much less time than a typical VGU was just icing on the cake for what was already looking like a promising rework.
**Is Ryze going to delay Yorick, our big VGU planned for release after Ryze?**
The answer to this is no. Ryze has not delayed the Yorick Update. We currently have three separate groups on the Champion Update team. Two of the groups work on our big updates (Sion/Taric level) and the third works on the Roster projects, like the recent Marksmen & Mage class changes. The group that worked on Poppy rolled onto Yorick shortly after Poppy released. The group that worked on Taric rolled onto Ryze shortly after Taric released. Ryze's scope is smaller than Yorick's and due to the reason I mentioned above (Having a near complete model/rig,) Ryze will most likely come out before Yorick.
I'll be monitoring this post over the next week or so, so feel free to ask any questions you have and I'll try to answer as many as I can.