I've avoided posting my opinion on Eternals for a week because I wanted to let the hate rampage come to a low boil before I tossed in my own thoughts.
I think, at a very basic level, the idea could work. Dropping some RP to gain extra means of progression for a champion you love and being able to further your mastery/gain rewards to display said mastery is not bad at its core.
**But the current implementation simply does not deliver.
- It's extremely expensive to pick up for even 3 of your favourite champions.
-The stats it tracks do not create a feeling of progress, merely one of counting. This is made to feel worse by the fact that the majority of stats tracked are "general."
-It does not feel like it rewards mastery, it feels like it lets you memorialize the time you stomped somebody who didn't know what they were doing, got all your personal bests (thus spamming the game with announcements about them) and then crushed the game easily. It provides little benefit to the games that actually put your skills to the test and challenge you. It does not reward consistent excellent play.
-The visual reward (flaming mastery emote+dashes above it) lacks the oomph provided by the emote progression we get in the normal (and free) mastery system.
-In my case specifically, as a Cho'Gath main, I really don't get much that's new. The game already tracks my ult stacks *and* their sources if I mouse over my Feast stacks, and I gain no benefit from knowing that I have Feasted X times in my career. It at most elicits a "neat" from me, and feels like I'm paying to see my end-of-year evaluation all year long (since it already tracks my ult uses!)
-Rather than feeling like a part of mastery progression, Eternals feel like they are outside of it. They're a way for people who can't earn the S ranks/play consistently well enough to buy their way into the system.
#What could be done to address these issues?
I'll not dive into some weird tirade about "give everybody Mastery Chromas for their champions!" I understand that time and resources are limited.
I'm going to try and stay as realistic as possible, and keep my points primarily grounded in mechanisms currently in-game which Eternals can and SHOULD play off of.
**1: Express Your Mastery**
-Rather than making Eternals work alongside the mastery system, they should be a part of it. The new tracking these offer creates the ideal avenues for the sort of skill tests that could be required to earn mastery ranks 8 and 9.
-Flaming mastery emotes are cool, so why not make it something you can earn after Mastery 7? Future mastery emotes should be even more silly and over the top.
-Tying it to the mastery system makes it feel like more of a challenge and makes flexing on your opponents with what could be a shiny new mastery emote for your shiny new mastery level feel more special.
**2: Feeling of Progression (QUESTS)
-Quests can be silly. They can ask for stupidly specific things, like the high speed nunu snowball. But most importantly, they can be challenging. Encourage people to go for some BIG PLAYS on their champions, to push themselves and perform well. Hell, even tracking successful ult uses like the current tracker offers for the majority of champions would be more entertaining with a goal at the end.
-Make them long term: Set goals that reward people for playing lots of a champ. The stats tracked can be very general, but the goals should be difficult!! Make people feel like they earn their reward/lighting that eternal ablaze.
-Don't just shoot for personal bests. Sure, you can track them, but flat numerical achievements and rewards for consistency are more important.
-_There is an opportunity here, if Eternals are tied to the mastery system, to make use of all those Mastery Points that start piling up as something other than an indicator of how much you have played your champion. Set long term mastery goals related to playing them a lot, tie rewards like hextech loot to them!_
**3: Rewards that feel worth the investment**
-Right now, getting to see your numbers go up on the number counter isn't quite enough. If the previous points are implemented in some form, especially the setting of difficult goals, the reward should be something more visible (hence my recommendation for further mastery levels instead of this current mastery adornment)
-This would be a great place to start putting in icons for champions. The vast majority of champions do not have icons associated with them, so some mastery-related icon that you can use for your Summoner would 1) vastly justify the steep price of Eternals and 2) lets mains show off their favourite champion!
-Implementing proper rewards for progression means you can also gradually add new ones, like the massive amount of work Mastery Chromas if you so choose, or hextech materials, or something new that hasn't even been released yet. It sets a precedent that this system will CONTINUE to reward mastery and thus is well worth the 850 RP investment. It's like a season pass for your Champion.
I know I personally would have no issue shelling out some money for champions I loved if I felt like Eternals actually were a display of mastery and not merely of wealth. I would gladly pay for the opportunity to progress to mastery 8, 9, and beyond.
Imo, Eternals should be delayed and the system should be re-implemented and tied in with already-existing content (quests, loot, mastery). It would benefit massively from playing off the strengths already present in the new client. I'm certain it was a lot of work to implement, but it desperately needs the resources and polish in order to make it feel like a complete product. Because right now it feels like I'm being asked to pay a Main Tax in order to gain more superficial main status on my favourite champions, taking advantage of my love for them, rather than being encouraged to pursue further achievement.