League of Legends’ upcoming jungle changes for the 2023 season have become a major talking point within the popular MOBA game’s community. However, the lead designer for the Summoner’s Rift team, Matthew ‘Phroxzon’ Leung-Harrison, believes the changes won’t remove skill expression from the role.
2023 will see the introduction of new jungle avatars – adorable pets that will replace the existing jungle items, and assist players in the jungle – as well as quality of life tweaks like visual indicators of optimal jungle paths. However, as always with LoL’s jungle changes, the community response has been mixed, with many criticising developer Riot Games for ‘dumbing down’ the role in pursuit of accessibility.
Speaking to The Loadout as part of an upcoming interview, Phroxzon says that the aim of the changes is to “move skill expression from places that are extremely impactful, but are hard to learn, into places that are satisfying for all levels of play.”
Exemplifying this, Phroxzon defers to jungle pets as more visual manifestations of the outgoing Ember Knife and Hailblade – mechanics which are traditionally “very hard to explain”, have little visual indication when in effect, and require reading a “wall of text” to understand.
“There are all of these invisible rules”, Phroxzon says, “and we wanted to make them more obvious to players. So the jungle companion will heal you when you kill a camp, and swipe the camp instead of having this weird, invisible burn coming from an item.”
Then there’s perhaps the most controversial change of them all: guiding players through the jungle as they clear it. While it was originally down to junglers to figure out optimal pathing, that will be changing for next season. Phroxzon admits that while those player-led optimisations have been removed “a little bit”, it’s been offset by the addition of more intuitive skill expression elsewhere.
With the changes currently live on PBE, it’s only a matter of time before the new jungle’s biggest critics will get to experience them in their entirety. Phroxzon and Riot will surely be hoping that their sentiments change once they get their hands on it.
The Loadout was speaking to Phroxzon ahead of DRX’s victory in the 2022 LoL Worlds final. A full interview covering how Riot balances the game for Worlds, Phroxzon’s thoughts on this year’s meta, and more will be coming later this week.