So I have been collecting my thoughts on the Varus update and I want to throw my two cents into the pool. I am going to come at this debate from a different angle here and explain why both lores were lacking and offer ideas on what Riot can do and what they could have done with Varus as an alternative. Alright, now that's out of the way, bare with this longest post.
First, I want to say Varus's new lore is rather good. It has one of the things I like to see in lore, connections to the world and give some backstory to the world. I like when a story connects the dots and this update really did that for me. However, the new lore has some clear issues I will get into soon but first I want to talk about the old lore.
Varus's old lore was a very beloved story about how a man saw everyone and everything he loved be destroyed and took a power that he knew would destroy him to get his revenge. The story is a classic one that people are able to easily relate to and feel for. However, I would say that it is maybe a little *too* standard. One of the biggest issues when I look at the old lore is Riot created a story with a very simple plot and expected you to just care from that point on. Unlike a lot of their better stories or even other works of fiction, Varus's old story started and ended with it's trope and didn't really play on that idea any further. Varus lost his loved one, took a bad power for his own use and is lost in the end. Although people can cannot to it and find something to get attached too, in my mind Varus had no room to grow anymore than he already had. Varus was nothing but a husk of the person he was and that mutes any form of progression he could have had since it's only pieces. I am not saying this could have worked but it is hard from the writer's stance to make that story grow and evolve overtime. Varus isn't Rek'Sai or Vel'Koz. He isn't a monster. He is a man with nothing left to lose. It's something that could have worked but it would have been difficult in his current state.
Another large issue I had with Varus is his family, village, and even Varus himself lacked any depth. To me, Varus felt like that person you hear had some bad shit happen to on the news and you just feel bad for the guy. Yet from the old lore's perspective, Varus's story should have made me feel like I lost a loved one. The story on a surface level will hit certain cords in you stronger based on who you are, but if you aren't in that kind of position, you won't feel a whole lot. I am not a father, nor have a wife so I cannot truly see Varus's point of view like someone else may. This plays into the next issue, I didn't know anything about these people. Varus as a character was pretty much 2D. He had no built personality and I had no idea about any of his family. They were just complete strangers to me. From my perspective, I will feel bad for them, but I won't cry like Varus may. I won't feel that burning hatred like he would. I just don't know these people to have a deep connection to them. Something that I will touch on in the new lore in a bit here.
Overall, the biggest issue with the old lore was it was a simple base that lacked enough detail to make me care. While the lore was good as a base, that's all it was, a base. It had nothing to break the mold or develop a character to a point where I feel invested. Tragedy and development needs to be shown in narratives. You cannot just tell me to care. Show, don't tell. It was simple enough and effective enough for a lot of people but when I look at it from my stance, I just don't have enough to care. This is something a lot of people share and it's a problem that Riot has created for themselves once again. With that jumping off point, let's talk about the new lore.
Now while the new lore brings a lot of good to the table, just like the old lore, it also has a lot of bad. One of the most glaring is the concept. Truthfully, the concept of 3 people being inside one body and it's a love vs hate battle is just kind of lame. No offense to the writers but really, when you put the story in the plainest terms, it really doesn't sell me that this is interesting or even remotely good. Though it's a little unfair to do this, I feel the biggest issue of *depth* turns it's ugly head once again when I look at this plot. There just isn't enough depth to truly say this battle, this concept, is really going to be interesting, and something I want to see develop. Really there isn't a physical, real threat that has happened, where the characters have truly suffered. Rather, there is more just a **chance** that something bad happens. It kind of works like Kayn and Rhaast. Really there hasn't been a single event as of yet that I can honestly say makes me go "Oh shit that was rough" but rather it leads me down the path of "Oh shit maybe they will have it rough". You could argue watching yourself (kind of?) killing people is rough but honestly, Varus is just killing bad dudes at this point. He doesn't even seem bad. He knows he can't just out right kill innocence because it makes it harder to win so he just kills dick bags. Feels more like a Dark Hero than a real villain. It's more the potential of danger and bad times that is currently happening and frankly, no. I will not accept that. It is just cheating.
Give me a real story beat and than leave future events to follow. Don't just gip me of any true event (him combining is hardly that big of a deal because technically they all are winning in this case) from happening. I want to see the characters face some real hardship and have to really overcome it. Don't give me a somewhat bad situation and say "UNTIL NEXT TIME ON DRAGON BA-"
The next issue that links back to the first one is just the lack of development. We are suppose to care about these 3 characters and there is a great line in the colour story I want to use here.
"The voice echoed in his skull, impossible to ignore. Which one was it? Kai or Valmar? He suspected Val, but mortal minds were so simple and muddy that it was hard to tell one from another."
This line right here sums up the biggest issue with this new lore. I cannot honestly tell the 3 apart. Fuck even Varus can't truly tell Kai and Valmar apart so why should I, as an audience member, give a shit trying to identify them. These are characters we are suppose to care about and if one of the characters, the driver, real MC, can't bother to tell them apart, than neither should we. This isn't very difficult to do either because the biggest issue with Kai and Valmar is their lack of development. The comics we got of the two was too little and did not succeed in making either character identifiable. A common issue I've seen with people on the boards is Val and Kai were hard to tell apart. I agree. Both characters were very difficult to honestly pick apart and I'll be 100% honest with you, I don't know which one died.
This is the biggest issue with the new lore hands down. Val and Kai are near identical in visuals, personality and character and when you blend the 2 together with Varus, you get a very hard to follow mess. Now say for example Val and Kai worked like the duo of Xayah and Rakan. Both are so wildly different than even if they had the same voice, I could pick them apart blindfolded. Val and Kai? Not so much.
At the core, the stories are pretty similar but the real differences are noticeable. Whether you liked the new or old will depend on person to person but if there is one major issue that I hope we can all agree on is that both lores, lacked the depth and nuance to be something special.
Now onto the part where I offer ideas on how we could fix this problem. I would consider myself a bit of a writer, maybe good, maybe trash. The main idea however is I think I have some good suggestion of what Riot could do to fix the current lore, and maybe offer what should have happened instead. Whatever you guys like, I am just offering suggestions here.
**The Fixes. Kind of***
My first major suggestion is something that is very do-able for Riot and doesn't require a major overhaul. This first idea is simply, give Valmar and Kai a color story. Now ideally, this should have come out a week before Riot even did the lore update but it's a little late for that now eh? Why would a color story work though? Well simple, this story could serve as a way to define both Val and Kai as characters and better introduce them to us as the audience. A color story is a perfect way to let us see who Val and Kai are, and understand what makes them both individuals. It allows us to become invested in them as characters and it would give us a reason to care. My idea of a good story is Val and Kai first meeting. Why did they fall for one another? How did they meet? Why are these two so special for one another that they can actually fight back against a mother fucking Darkin! This is the story that we needed. Unfortunately it's a little late for a good reveal, but it is still a must for us as readers to get invested.
The next suggestion I have is pretty much impossible to do now, the rest are like this as well, but here it is. Val or Kai should have died. This plays into the struggle of the characters and the need for these characters to suffer and overcome their problems. Ultimately when Varus gained control, one of these characters should have been lost, leaving the remaining character to suffer alone and struggle to pull through. Honestly, I would have loved if Kai (or was it Val that was dying?) was the survivor, being given a second chance at the scarfice of his beloved. This would have given the survivor a true conflict and push him to live. He is fighting to carry on for his loved one and win against the Darkin. His ultimate goal is to be free and live the rest of his life like his lover wanted. It would have created a weight to the story that is really is lacking at the moment.
Following the suggestion above, this idea is similar in concept to the above idea and kind of mimics the old lore. When Kai (Or Val, seriously Riot, sort this out) dies, Val(I am just using Val here) throws himself into the pit, believing there is a way to save his loved one. Instead he encounters Varus. Kai is lost and Val in his anger and loses control, feeding into Varus, and Varus feeding into Val. Instead of a victor, Val and Varus combine and both are lost. Fragments of each other with 1 ultimate goal in mind, revenge. Both Val and Varus have pieces of themselves in this new being but it's scattered and all random. This is similar in to the original lore and plays into the Darkin connects. It doesn't feel like Rhaast and Kayn and it doesn't turn out like Aatrox. Instead, both individuals are lost, left to be a new tormented soul that feeds on his anger and thirst for vengeance. It turns Varus into more of a monster than man and I think that could work. Not saying it's amazing, but I like the concept of it since a Darkin losing to a human with the human being lost in the process creates a really interesting idea that maybe we could use in the future!
Overall, when I think of ways to improve the new and even the old lore, I think there is a lot of good and bad. Neither story ever felt complete and I have a desire to see more but knowing Riot, that more is likely going to wait 15 years. Varus is a lore update that I like and I see the promise, but I also see the wasted potential, and lack of content needed to finish the story. If you guys agree or disagree with what I had to say or my suggestion, please, feel free to add in. I want to really start a good dialogue and pin-point the issues with Varus now and find a solution that could make everyone happy.
I hope this post made sense. It's been hard to put my thoughts into words ;-;