Soooo as some of you may have heard, we’ve been working on some pretty big changes to Soraka. Hopefully this post will help you guys see some of the challenges we faced with her as a character and how we are looking to resolve them while creating a really deep and interested play experience that no other character in LoL can offer.
Right then, so first thing first. We wanted to carve out a really specific niche for Soraka so that we could make her really strong and unique in that role. The role that we identified for her was as the core healer of the League of Legends roster. So, I’m sure that raises a bunch of alarm bells for a number of you.
“Wait a second, hasn’t Morello said in the past that he hates healers in LoL? What changed?”
Well, there’s a difference between healing with and without meaningful costs and interaction. Let’s talk about that for a second. With Live Soraka (and especially season 1 Soraka, if you were around for that), heals tend to “undo” action at the cost of mana. Specifically, being a sustain fountain that clicks your ally until they are healthy doesn’t create a very compelling gameplay space, and certainly doesn’t feel like a fair interaction to enemies. After all, all they can do is keeping harassing until Soraka runs out of mana. So then, what **would** feel fair?
That was the core problem I was looking to solve when I started on Soraka. After some early iterations, Morello pitched something crazy to myself and RiotScruffy. What if Soraka had to pay her own health to heal allies, but could then get it back through a separate enemy-interactive spell? ;
This became the driving vision behind the new Soraka, and I’m really excited to share what’s going to be hitting PBE in the next cycle with you guys. This is not going to be a tl;dr post (if you want that version, I’m sure you can wait for blakinola’s). I want to get in depth about every choice that was made and why we felt it was necessary. So without further to do, here’s the kit. (This is going to go in the order most conducive to walking you through my process, so don’t get confused when I start on W).
**PLEASE PLEASE note that all of these numbers are definitely not final. We will be doing a lot of tuning over the next couple of weeks. **
This is the core of Soraka’s new kit. It’s a 4 second (scaling down to 2) heal that she can use to constantly direct her attention to the ally that needs it most. We are trying to really capture the feeling of the core healer that is constantly managing her allies’ health bars and keeping people alive. As I mentioned previously, the % health cost is necessary to allow Soraka to have such insane potential healing. Using this spell, you can easily heal an ally from almost dead to full health, but you will pay a heavy cost for doing so if you aren’t actively engaging in your offensive loop (Starcall). The Max Health cost was chosen very specifically over a flat health cost so that Soraka would not be able to increase her overall healing potential by stacking tank items (especially warmogs). If Soraka is going to be allowed to keep people alive in fights, she needs to be vulnerable in doing so. Soraka’s positioning and decision making will be a huge point of mastery. That reminds me, the cast range on this spell will be rather short. This is necessary to make sure Soraka is accessible when she chooses to heal and can’t sit 800 units behind the back line and heal from total safety (seriously, this is the most frustrating thing ever to have to deal with). Good news though, she will have other tools on her kit to help her here.
This passive we called “Astral Ambulance” internally. Because Soraka’s cast range on W needs to be constrained, we need to give her another way to reliably reach the targets she wants to heal. This new passive allows Soraka to keep up with the fight and make clutch saves by sprinting across the river to get that heal off.
The second potion of this passive allows Soraka to get the cool bonus effects off items like Frozen Heart while making your healing and damage stronger. This should open up a couple cool new itemization choices for her. It also serves a potential release valve in a future where mitigation itemization allows Soraka to be too tanky. This way we can tune how strong Soraka is in certain areas (healing/damage) without just flat out nerfing her if she is ever able to become too tanky.
**EDIT: If it wasn't clear from the tooltip, this is a literal conversion of MR/Armor into AP. She does not get AP as a bonus on top of the MR/Armor. Frozen Heart will give 80% of its normal armor value to her, but she gets the other 20% in AP and still gets the passive effect.**
That brings us to the new Starcall. I don’t think you guys need much of an explanation of why the previous starcall needed to be cut. It was essentially a ramping damage PBAoE ability on a character that is supposed to be a support focused around her ally. A ramping damage pattern like this is really indicative of tanks, and if we wanted Soraka to be an interactive and fair healer, we had to give her opponent a way to be successful against stopping her healing.
Ideally, we wanted this spell to be very reliable at close range (when Soraka is at extremely high risk) while be equally as powerful but less reliable at long ranges (so that if Soraka is poking with it her opponents can dodge). This led us to a targeting paradigm similar to Corki Q or Twitch W (basically a missile that doesn’t have any effects until the end where it blows up in an AoE). To really accentuate the reliable-when-close paradigm, we also added a small sweet spot in the middle of the AoE (think Leona ult style). If Soraka hits an enemy with the sweet spot, the enemy takes 150% of the damage and is slowed for 2 seconds. You’ll see why this slow is really important to her offensive pattern when we get to E, but one other thing I wanted to point out was that this is one of the few tools she has to stay safe when she’s by herself.
Finally, let’s talk about the E. Soraka’s previous E was one of the better decision points on her old kit, but a targeted silence just wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been. A lot of the time you don’t even realize how much you have or haven’t hurt your opponent. Tryndamere and Riven are both AD stacking melees. If you use it on Tryndamere, it might not be a big deal, but if you use it on Riven she literally can’t do anything. What we really wanted to do here was give Soraka a much bigger moment when it came to play making that still fulfilled the power of quickly silencing a dude quickly
Equinox is an incredibly powerful spell. An AoE silence zone is no laughing matter, and the root at the end allows her to make some really cool plays (dropping it where Lissandra is about to blink to, or underneath an incoming enemy teleport, etc.) The root will scale with level, but once again try not to focus on numbers since these are all subject to change with tuning.
Wish is largely unchanged, but because her old passive was removed (more healing at lower ally health), this scaling was kept on wish but concentrated into a clear threshold.
This change allows Soraka to understand exactly how many “bonus heals” she is going to get when she presses the button, and also makes the spell just generally more powerful when it matters (anytime the ally is below 40% they get the equivalent power of being at 1% with the wish on Live currently). We kept the healing scaling on Wish and not on W because we didn’t want Soraka to allow her ally to drop to dangerously burstable levels just so she could get a slightly better heal on a basic ability. Soraka should always want to keep her allies at the safest health she can (while also managing her own health) and we felt that a bonus heal on W not only encouraged play that was often wrong, it also felt really baity for the enemies. Keeping the “flash heal” button and the big saving cooldown separate allows us to make sure each has a clear and satisfying purpose.
So that’s the kit.
I guess I want to close by talking about how this Soraka is not going to play like anything else in League of Legends. We’re taking a lot of risks by basically allowing Soraka to put herself at near death, but the gameplay experience of the core healer is something we really want to explore. We’re willing to try some risky stuff to accomplish a cool niche champion like this, and we will be watching her really closely on PBE to make sure she isn’t doing anything overly abusive.
We’re really excited about what this champion could provide to players who love to play combat healers, and we’ll be doing plenty of tuning on PBE to make sure she’s in the best place possible upon release. Please remember that regardless of whether she is strong or weak on PBE (or even on release) that we are building a champion that we are comfortable buffing up even if she is weak, so bear with us as we get her into a good spot in the coming weeks.
I’ll be around to discuss all of this stuff with you guys, so fire away with any questions you might have!