League of Legends’ new champion Bel’Veth was almost a vampire squid

League of Legends new champion Bel'Veth interview: Bel'Veth, the Void Empress

League of Legends patch 12.11 has finally arrived, and while much of the focus has been on developer Riot Games’ attempts to rebalance the game following the Durability Update from the previous patch, a monstrous entity in the form of new champion Bel’Veth will soon take the spotlight.

The Void Empress – voiced by the brilliant Anoush Nevart – has, as lead gameplay producer Ryan ‘Reav3’ Mireles tells The Loadout, been in the works for about a year now, and is finally set to debut with the latest patch. Chatting to us about the design goals set for the champion, Mireles reveals Bel’Veth was originally intended to be more of a monstrous human female champion, but over the course of development she became more and more creature-like.

“We noted that the Void had a lot of unrelatable monsters”, Reav3 says. “So how could we create a champion that could be a little more relatable, something that could be from the Void while also interacting with other champions and humans more? This thought is what led to the ‘angler fish’ approach.”

Having materialised after consuming the port city she is now named after, Bel’Veth’s manta ray-esque form, according to Reav3, is the physical manifestation of “the marine life of the harbour city” she assimilated. However, as there are plenty of fish in the sea, Bel’Veth underwent a number of visual iterations before the developers settled on her final design.

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“We went through a bunch of different marine animal-inspired designs,” Reav3 says. “There were a few octopus ones – in one particular design, she had a ton of octopus arms growing out of her head. And we also tried a vampire squid one (you can actually still see the vampire squid influence in her skirt/dress).” You can check out some of Bel’Veth’s design iterations over on art director Larry ‘The Bravo’ Ray’s ArtStation page here.

Parts of the community were initially left confused by the perceived disconnect between Bel’Veth’s elegant appearance in her reveal cinematic, and her beat ‘em up gameplay style. Reav3 jokes that “this is the result of our marketing team being too good at their jobs. The CG we released as her announcement really sold her disguise so well that the player base was also lured in and fooled by her facade.”

Reav3 reminds us that, beneath the veneer of regality, Bel’Veth is still “a Void monster who will rip you to shreds and devour you.” When considering the synergy between Bel’Veth’s playstyle and the visual shapeshifting between her humanoid and monstrous forms, the ‘angler fish’ approach is certainly clear to see. Regardless, we’re sure there are plenty of players out there who are, if anything, welcoming the prospect of being beaten to death by the Void Empress – not that there’s anything wrong with being down bad, of course.

Another concern highlighted by some regards the dash and reset elements of Bel’Veth’s kit. To this Reav3 says Riot will, as always with new champions, be closely monitoring player sentiment towards her, as well as her “perceived and actualised strength” through data.

“While some players complain about mobility in League, many classes and champions that are mobile have balancing levers in the form of lower health and survivability and/or risk in the form of melee range,” Reav3 notes. “These types of champions just wouldn’t function or be successful without mobility.

“Bel’Veth’s mobility does make it so that, if you run away from her in the same direction, she can’t dash more than once, which makes getting away from her easier than you’d think. However, on the flip side, it does give her a lot of in-combat dashes when a fight is staying in one spot.”

When Bel’Veth arrives, then, players will want to be mindful of where they fight her. Or, if you’re like us, just permaban her in your LoL ranked games for the first couple of weeks. No thinking required – job done.