Riot Games has recently made some massive changes to League of Legends’ secondary game mode, the casual-focused ARAM, and not everybody is happy about it.
ARAM is a simple game mode concept, standing for All Random All Mid, and emerged from the early days of League of Legends when Summoner’s Rift was the only available game mode. After becoming its own distinct style of gameplay, the mode languished with little love from the League of Legends developer. A recent overhaul has seen significant quality-of-life changes brought to the party mode slugfest have brought equal parts excitement and criticism, so what’s wrong with the new ARAM?
Fans complain about the new ARAM
After many years of Howling Abyss getting light balance changes here and there, champion-specific tweaks, and little else, Riot Games decided to try and meaningfully shift the flow of gameplay on the one-lane map. This involved inserting teleportation gates, exactly the same function as Hexgates on Summoner’s Rift Hextech Elemental Rift, that allow quick transportation from one team’s base to their towers, and dynamic terrain created by falling towers. These changes were meant to make ARAMs feel more dynamic, with elements that didn’t just feel like sprinting full-tilt at your opponents for fight after fight after fight.
That hasn’t been the outcome for many fans, according to forum postings and online discourse in the League of Legends community. What was meant to reduce the amount of time spent running down ARAM’s long single lane has instead felt like a way to ensure that whichever gets an early lead stays ahead throughout the game. Posts on Reddit and Twitter have cited wildly swingy games and what feels like insurmountable early leads as reasons that ARAM no longer feels fun to play. Gone are the tense team fights in the middle of the map, with teams able to rapidly close the distance from their nexus to the center of the map.
Why didn’t the ARAM changes work?
There a few central reasons why the ARAM changes have let to such divided community sentiment. The most impactful change is the addition of Hexgates, a mechanic that nearly completely removes transit time from a team’s base into the midfield where most of the fights and skirmishes happen. Previously, teams could pick fights when one enemy was respawning and be confident in their ability to complete the fight before the respawning enemy arrived, but the addition of teleportation gates has completely removed that.
This means that the windows for comebacks and exploiting mistakes from teams that fall behind are smaller and smaller and there are fewer moments where the advantage of numbers can lead to a comeback. At the same time, towers collapsing was meant to funnel winning teams into chokepoints that make counterplay easier, but instead also constrict the losing team’s movements as they try to make their way out of the base.
These complaints aren’t universal, but it’s fair to say that more fans are upset with the changes than Riot expected given the attempt to equalize the swingy nature of ARAM.