What's Really Changing in League of Legends for Season Four?
The end of the third season of League of Legends looms. Season Three saw changes to the jungle, to oracle's elixir, to base movement speeds, and lots of new items. While these changes gave new possibilities and made it a bit easier to maintain regular vision (particularly if your team is behind) the overall game remained largely the same.
I'm not so sure the same will be true for Season Four. The list of changes is simple enough to read, but carries some potentially meta-breaking possibilities. Let's look at it piece by piece.
Vision and Wards
This is a big one. Wards were changed for Season Three with the inclusion of sightstone and a time limit on oracle's elixir, making it generally easier to keep reliable map vision active regardless of how far behind or ahead a team is. Season Four is further altering the way vision works in several huge ways. Wards are changing dramatically in how they work and especially in how focused the responsibility for map awareness is on a single player on any team.
To help make it more of a team effort, a new item slot is being introduced for free items called 'trinkets'. These items provide one of three vision-based benefits, making it easier than ever for everyone on the team to take part in the war of wards. For an even more in-depth look at the changes and what they mean for vision, look here.
Yeah, you knew this was coming. Every time a new season starts, Riot Games looks to change the jungle in some way to try and better fit it into the role they want it to be. With Season Four, Riot is looking to bring some damage back into the jungle by increasing the gold in the jungle and introducing new items that make carry-style junglers like Tryndamere or Master Yi plausible again.
They will also be adding a new non-buff jungle camp to create more possible jungle paths to allow for more variation and unpredictability.
This is the other role Riot is constantly trying to improve alongside junglers. Season Four promises changes in gold distribution to allow supports to gain more gold for their items, which combines with the changes to warding to make it significantly more likely for a support to actually get something resembling an item build in-game.
They will also be refining and creating items to both better make use of that gold and to emphasize the utility of support classes instead of simply adding to stats they do not necessarily want to try and stack as a support.
One of the least fun things to watch in any sport, whether an esport or an athletic one, is a game in which one side has an advantage the other simply cannot possibly overcome. One team having an advantage makes the game much more exciting when their opponents pull off something extraordinary, but only when the advantage is not so severe as to make such extraordinary plays impossible.
To try and help limit steamrolling a bit more in Season Four, Riot is looking to adjust various in-game mechanics while adding several others. Tower, dragon, and first blood gold rewards are all being looked at for adjustment. Location of bushes is being reconsidered. The inclusion of extra gold for champions who are getting repeated assists is also being looked at, allowing supports or tanks who are doing well but not actually doing much killing themselves to get some extra gold.
Runes and Masteries
Also unsurprising, the game's runes and masteries are being looked at once again. This is another process which seems to take place every year, and the stated goal this year is once again similar. The changes to masteries will not be as extensive as Season Three, but Riot does still want to make different masteries more viable.
Runes will be focused on much the same thing, trying to introduce new possible rune builds and making the various options involved in rune choices more attractive to prevent cookie-cutter runepages.
All in all, Season Four is already looking to shake up the League of Legends scene in a major way. At the same time, many felt exactly the same way at the beginning of Season Three. Only time will tell how seriously these changes actually effect the game.