Everything we know about new LoL champ Naafiri
Apr 30, 2023
The next League of Legends champion to be released is Naafiri, a Darkin assassin with some exciting new abilities.
The next addition to League of Legends’ ever-expanding roster of characters is Naafiri, an assassin character who will focus on roaming and macro play. Riot Games has started to drip-feed details about her to fans of League of Legends, from her thematic to hints about her gameplay. With so much being hinted but no official announcements, we’ve compiled together all the details that Riot games has dropped about this new champions.
Who is Naafiri?
One of the most interesting hints that Riot Games has been giving about Naafiri is that, unlike the vast majority of LoL champions, she’s not just one being. In the 2023 Roadmap, Riot Games introduced this new champion by saying Darkin fans had been asking the developers to “throw [them] a bone here!” Riot Reav3 also said he supported those fans, and that he was “barkin’ for some Darkin.” These were the first in a set of not particularly subtle clues that Naafiri is associated with dogs, hounds, or canines of some variety. In the same Roadmap, we saw the first preview of the weapon that houses this new Darkin, an enormous dagger with an eye set into the blade lying on the Shuriman sands.
Since then, Riot has only doubled down on the idea that Naafiri is closely connected to both Shurima and hounds. The Darkin were once Shuriman demi-god warriors known as Ascended, who had been elevated beyond mortality by the Sun Disc. Then, when Shurima went to war with the kingdom of Icathia, everything changed. Icathia harnessed the power of the Void and unleashed it upon Shurima and its demi-god warriors. Scarred by witnessing the Void unleashed, and corrupted from their own use of Blood Magic, these Ascended began to change.
As the Darkin grew corrupted and began to sow destruction throughout Runeterra, the divine Aspects of Targon intervened. In particular, the Aspect of the Trickster, the divine being that currently inhabits Zoe, was responsible for sealing them within their own weapons. All known currently-existing Darkin are sealed within their weapons and may possess those that pick up and wield these dark artifacts.
Throughout her previews, it keeps being hinted that Naafiri is plural “assassins” rather than a singular character. Given the hints in the art, Roadmap, and other previews, it seems very likely that Naafiri is actually a pack of desert hounds.
What new tech is Naafiri bringing?
Riot Games has spent a lot of time talking about how Naafiri will be an easier-to-play assassin. In the April 2023 Roadmap, the devleoper called this out specifically. Riot Games said that “Naafiri is meant for those who want to focus on the hunt. The assassin role can be an intimidating one to pick up. There is a lot of higher level game knowledge required to ensure you know when to roam and how to position well—especially knowing when’s the right moment to pounce and crafting an escape plan to get out alive. On top of all that, there is still the mechanical execution of the champion’s abilities. We hope to lower the burden of that execution and allow much more concentration on the macro plays with Naafiri.”
The developer also talked about exciting new technology being added to the game in order to flesh out Naafiri. Most interestingly, the developer made it sound like one of her mechanics had already been in the game before. Riot said that “the change to assassin gameplay that Naafiri brings, we also built a lot of new tech to accommodate her unique gameplay thematic that should help make it feel more alive, dynamic, and decluttered.”
With the thematic of a pack of hounds on the hunt, map mobility and roaming seems like the best candidate. The last time there was a map-roaming mechanic removed from the game, it was Rek’Sai’s old ultimate. It was removed due to its clunky nature. This ability let the Xer’Sai queen appear at one of her network of tunnels she’d set up across the map. This could also work for a pack of Shuriman hounds emerging from dens set up throughout Summoner’s Rift.
What makes the new Darkin assassin special?
Naafiri’s unique characteristics seem to be her ease of access for new players and her focus on roaming.
Most assassins require extensive macro knowledge to know when to roam. If Riot is making that easier for her players, she’ll need a specific mechanic to do so. Riot has already said it’s brought in new tech to make her easier. Lots of work technologically to make her more user-friendly means she probably has a very unique mechanic. Other technically challenging characters include Mordekaiser, Viego, and similarly wacky kits.
But what could Riot Games add to Naafiri’s kit to make her so unique? With a roam-focused playstyle and hints that she’ll have multiple bodies, increased map presence seems likely. Unless she’s simply able to reposition globally, like Twisted Fate or Shen, it’s likely something fans haven’t seen before. Fans of Dota 2 might think of Meepo, a character able to split into multiple bodies. It’s unlikely that a beginner-friendly champion would get such an involved mechanic, but the thematic seems to encourage something similar. With constant hints at multiple bodies, the ability to threaten multiple spots at once seems like a must-have.