A lot of multiplayer games sell themselves on their vast and diverse character rosters, but nothing, not even Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with its 80+ characters, comes close to how big League of Legends‘ roster is. The game has been out for over 10 years and currently boasts a whopping 160 different champions to choose from (with the latest addition, Nilah, arriving only last month), and that number is only going to go up.
One naturally can’t help but wonder if Riot Games will eventually run out of ideas or at least put a cap on how big the roster can get. According to lead game designer Matthew Leung-Harrison, the team has “got a lot of flex to go” when it comes to adding more characters.
Speaking with PCGamesN, Leung-Harrison provided some insight into the design process for new champions, explaining that every character must have something unique about them. However, they also need to remain intuitive “so as not to consume that mindshare budget.”
What he means by that is, that while it’s important to have every character feel unique, there still needs to be some similarities between them. Having 160 characters that are all fundamentally different would be too overwhelming for players to memorize. For example, hook champions like Thresh all have an ability that brings an opponent closer to them, but they also work slightly differently so they don’t all feel like the same character.
Basically, the team needs to strike a balance and it’s only if they allow themselves to make unintuitive characters that don’t follow established expectations that it will become difficult to create new ones.
“If we make unintuitive champions, then yes, the cap to making more champions is an issue,” he says. “It’s only when we do something that completely subverts the expectation of what that spell, or what that missile, or what that VFX means then we get into problems.”
Leung-Harrison’s comments ultimately suggest that Riot has no intention of slowing down on adding new characters to the game. It’s possible it’ll need to stop at some point but it sounds like the team has loads of ideas it wishes to implement in the future.