I can appreciate that Riot's finally moved the plot forward for these two characters. Good job.
However, there's something that bugs me about how this is resolved. Specifically, I'd like to point out Riven's desire for death.
Let's go back a bit. When she first came out, Riven was a really badass soldier who fell victim to a chemical warfare attack by Singed that destroyed her vision of Noxus. While Singed's involvement became somewhat questionable, the basis never really changed. And it worked just fine - it kept her motivations and character intact. Her character was also pretty unique - I said that it destroyed her vision of Noxus, but that's not quite accurate. Rather, it destroyed what she thought of the current Noxus, but not of its ideals. That part's significant.
Now, after Yasuo came out for long enough, it became pretty clear that Riven was the one who killed his elder. And that was fine. Riven's a badass soldier, after all, and Ionia's the kind of place where old men become total badasses, so it's very much plausible that Riven fought and killed Elder Souma over a grueling battle lasting at least an hour, pushing them both to the limit before she breaks out her ultimate. It even fits in with Riven's philosophies - Noxus values the strong, and Riven clearly showed herself to be stronger than Elder Souma.
What's important here, though, is that while Riven didn't get any real lore updates until now, her character was pretty consistent: Loyal to the ideals of Noxus, not necessarily the country, with all the implications therein.
Fast forward to now. Before the story even changes, we've got a major shift in character - Riven doesn't have that kind of zeal for Noxus's ideals any more. That's huge. Without that zeal, she loses any motivation to keep fighting, really. And that's exactly what happens here - when we see Riven, she's working as a farmhand.
There's also another purpose behind those ideals though: if the strong survive, then Riven isn't necessarily bound by guilt for fighting as she did. She was strong, so she survived. That's why the chemical attack was so repulsive to her, in fact - it cheated the strong VS weak paradigm completely by killing both indiscriminately. Without these ideals, we get Riven as she is now - overwhelmed with remorse over the deaths of Ionians in the war.
That's a marked change from her character already. From a Noxian zealot who abandons Noxus to try and reform it, to a shell-shocked war veteran in hiding. It sounds like the result of some other story.
Where this really hits an issue, though, is that Riven's also picked up a near-suicidal desire to die as penance. This is not the Riven we were introduced to in Season 1. This is barely Riven at all. This is an incredibly huge retcon to Riven's lore.
But let's face it, retcons are needed. So much of the lore is out of date or just plain undetailed. We're still waiting for such updates on people like Alistar and Malphite. The presence of the retcon really isn't the problem here.
The problem is that the issue the retcon introduces is immediately resolved by the end of the story.
As far as we, the audience, are concerned, Riven has only really just begun as a character at the start of the story. This Riven bears no resemblance to the patriot of Season 1. The presence of this fatalistic urge seems pretty big, and it probably would have been a really good part of her character. The loss of her Noxian idealism would have been noticeable, but someone fighting the way she does while feeling the way she does would offset that handily.
Except we don't get to see that Riven. She has no screentime between her introduction and the end of the story where this aspect of her character is resolved. The story introduces this battleworn Riven as the only Riven, then quickly does away with it by the end.
In short: Riven's character was retconned, then the retconned issues were instantly solved.
There's no time to get invested in this new Riven. You can't see her drive for death as she swings her broken blade - or hell, an improvised weapon - at a roving band of bandits with reckless abandon. You can't see her risk her life to save someone, not out of kindness, but just so she could do one thing right. You can't see her break down and run away from relationships because her guilt is so crushing she feels she doesn't deserve it. You can't see her rage and frustration at her former commanding officer, the one who set her up and violated her trust and faith. No, instead you get to see Riven in court, for what feels like a very brief time, and then it's over as they find the truth - that Elder Souma didn't die in a badass hour-long duel with Riven, but instead died trying to break her blade, not knowing it had old-man-seeking homing shards.
If a character flaw is introduced with the character, but it's resolved in the very first story, was it really a flaw?
The frustrating bit about this, though, is that Riot did this RIGHT before.
Let's go farther back to literally everyone's favorite event, Burning Tides. When I say literally, I only use about 30% hyperbole. On pretty much every level, this was a masterpiece. Part of that was the resolution of two major plot arcs between champions - champions we've had since Season 1. We've known that Miss Fortune has been out to kill Gangplank ever since he killed her parents. We've known that Twisted Fate got magic in an experiment. And we've known that Graves never forgave Twisted Fate for selling him out for that experiment.
So what happens? Miss Fortune succeeds in killing Gangplank along with his ship (well, not really, but close enough). Graves finally reaches an understanding with Twisted Fate after he learns his side of the story. Miss Fortune realizes that killing Gangplank doesn't actually fix anything for her - and if anything, made things worse for Bilgewater. Graves finds that part of his own vendetta was his own fault anyways, and is humbled at the losses incurred because of him. Both characters change for the better, and this has honest-to-goodness impact because we've had them around since Season 1. We've been sitting on this for years, and it finally hit its payoff. That's freaking awesome.
Contrast with this story. We're introduced to a new Riven, but as soon as we get a handle on her, everything is fixed. We haven't had any time to appreciate new Riven. New Riven didn't even get to do any real fighting or talking or rescuing or exploring or adventuring or anything. It's already over by the time we've got to new Riven.
If you're only taking away one thing from this, Riot, let it be this statement: Please don't change a character and then resolve core flaws with that character in the same story. It cheapens the investment we have in your characters, and defeats the purpose of introducing these changes in the first place. It also encourages what I think is a rather dangerous path - changing up a character's personality just to get a story out of them that wouldn't be possible otherwise. I'm not saying that's why you did this change to Riven, but let's be honest - you couldn't have written this story with old Riven and her Noxian ideals.
As always, I'm excited for new lore updates. I just hope that if Riot has to completely rework a champion's character (looking at you, Alistar), that they give us some time to get to know this new character first before they start making major changes to this character.