With the 2014 seasons officially behind us, and pre-season 2015 gearing up, Riot has announced plans to once again overhaul the jungle metagame in their insanely popular MOBA.
Fearless and Axes here to talk about the jungle changes coming in the upcoming 2015 Preseason. Our big goal this time around is to bring strategic diversity back to jungle. Currently a small pool of optimal junglers has been skewing team compositions toward a small set of strategic plans, so our focus for 2015 is to let players take the junglers they love and the junglers they want to fit into their team’s strategies. I realize jungle diversity improvements have been a focus a few times in the past (has it been every season?), but this time around we’re taking bigger steps and we’re excited to share our ideas with you.
With an emphasis on strategic diversity set as the major theme in the pre-season 2015 changes, Riot specifically wants to broaden the tactics that players can use in the jungle. Players can look forward to a variety of new strategies available to them and their teammates. Additionally, a brand new river creep (pictured above), will open up a dangerous new path for junglers that are willing to gamble a bit more with their risk vs reward.
As I mentioned in the foreword, the 2015 Preseason changes are taking a crack at some problems in the jungle that have built up over many seasons. In the past, our approach to the jungle has been through smaller sets of changes, aimed at fixing only the issues that arose in the previous year. Our fixes did largely address past problems, but they also didn’t have the mechanisms to deal with some of the power balances that appeared later on.
As players mature in their understanding of the game landscape, the strength of a jungler ends up getting boiled down and optimized into a small handful of champs who do roughly the same thing: who can clear the fastest while also having strong dueling / ganking capabilities? This season, for example, we saw a lot of Kha’Zix, Evelynn, Rengar, Elise and, everyone’s favorite, Lee Sin. A side effect with having ‘optimal’ junglers who crowd out other choices is that teams tend to orient their team selection and strategies around their limited choices. For example, if there aren’t any powerful junglers that work in a siege comp, it becomes that much more of a gamble to commit to one.
The 2015 changes are aimed at building a jungle that has components to empower and react to many different actions that junglers take. This allows us much finer control to react to the live state of the game with small changes to the jungle, rather than only having to tune champions and items. In past seasons, collateral damage with each jungle change was very high, where a buff to a few champions creates huge imbalances (anyone remember Feral Flare?). The new jungle aims to give us many angles to attack problems as they arise, to give us more precision than we’ve ever had before. More scalpels, less sledgehammers.
To learn more about the upcoming changes players can expect in pre-season 2015, head over the the Riot Developer Blog.