Riot Mort talks about his belief that Teamfight Tactics has neared its ceiling in Set Complexity; however, no plans to go back.
As Teamfight Tactics nears Set 10, Lead Designer Riot Mort reflects upon various evolutionary aspects of the game. Regional Portals, Champion traits, and itemizations, among other game elements, have given TFT new dimensions as well as more control in the hands of the players.
But here’s the catch with that. When you continuously add more and more fine-tuning abilities to the game, it also makes it difficult to properly balance out things. TFT currently has 240+ augments categorized into 3 different tiers. Not to mention different augments, combined with champion-specific traits, can completely create paradigm shifts in your gameplay.
Oh and did I even mention the legend-specific augments that you get to choose when you lobby up? You get the idea. Over the years, the developers have added these things to polish the game. And yeah, it did come to fruition big time. TFT is now one of the biggest auto-battlers, and it keeps getting better.
With that, let’s now look into what Riot Mort says about Set Complexity in TFT and also a few bits on 1-cost champions and level cap in set 10.
Low-Cost Champions and Unique Gameplay
Low-cost champions are those that cost you in the 1 to 2 gold range. These champions are very common in the shop. Their high affordability means that you can stack them more easily to get two or three-star versions. But this has a trade-off in the form of lower complexity or skill ceilings.
Yes, you can use items on them to make them very strong. But they don’t have innate traits that can single-handedly change the direction of the games. For example, some of the 5 gold champions, like Aatrox and Ahri, have much higher innate abilities and ceilings for stronger synergies than a regular 1-cost Samira.
But merely scaling Champions’ abilities based on their cost is not interesting. So Riot has incorporated interesting potential even into the 1 and 2 cost champions. Riot Mort gives the example of Cho’gath and Kayle, who, despite being 1 cost champions, had a fair share of complexity in their kits.
Some of the low-cost champions also have really high synergy with high-cost champions’ hero augments or passives, giving rise to many comps centered around low-cost champions. This adds to the Set complexity, as I will talk more about that in the next section.
Set Complexity and Balance Issues in Teamfight Tactics
As mentioned before, stuff like Regional Portals and legend-specific augments, with their deep integration with champions and traits, have made the game very complex. But how exactly, you may ask.
Earlier today, I was playing a normal TFT match. And I got the Thresh’s Sanctum portal from Shadow Isle. The unique feature of this portal is that it gives you champions’ souls when they die, exactly like Thresh’s passive in League of Legends. So when you accumulate 40 souls, you also get bonus loot.
This emphasizes the players to play according to a certain style. For example, they may choose to use the bonus loot on leveling up XP faster or invest more in rerolls to get desired champions. Since they have more loots they also get to experiment with more combinations. Naturally, the game will see players hitting high levels faster than in other portals, resulting in the appearance of more high-cost champions.
Suppose instead I had got Jayce’s Workshop portal from Piltover. It would provide all of us with prismatic augments. So, instead of focusing on diverse champion composition, we would be more willing to get specific champions to utilize the augments as much as possible. Yes, you would still be leveling up and getting different champions. But unlike before, your focus is shifted elsewhere.
And now you see how a small decision at the start of the game completely changes the outlook of the entire match.
Legend Specific Augments
Now consider this. Even before starting the match, each individual is given the freedom to decide how their playstyle will be. Here comes the Legend-specific Augments. In your lobby, on the right side of your avatar, you can see a button. These augments offer various buffs across several stages of the match. These bonuses come in the form of XP, Gold, Items, stats, etc, in various combinations and conditions of the game state.
This directly incorporates another major variable to the game alongside the aforementioned Regional Portals. Now, each player gets to choose a fixed augment from a wide pool to choose from even before the match. All of these have seamless integration with champions, items, and traits. So you can guess just how exponentially the game variety increases.
Hence, it goes without saying that augmented variety creates more pressure on the balance team. We have seen how players have found very creative ways to exploit the augment-trait-champion synergies to completely break the balance of the game. This is why Riot believes they have reached the ceiling of complexity. It has reached the stage where even the balance team is facing an uphill battle.
Can’t They Just Get A Bigger Teamfight Tactics Balance Team?
Yes, they already have exhausted that option. But simply having more members in your team won’t solve the issue overnight. TFT has been growing at an astronomical rate. New employees have to go through a learning curve to get themselves familiar with the work environment. On top of it, they have to go through the entire history of the game to understand how the journey took the game here.
Not to mention, there are other organizational structure-related issues. Forming new teams, assigning specific tasks, and designing more specialization for new members all require extensive managerial planning. The fact that TFT and other Riot IPs keep updating so frequently only complicates the training process. But yes, in the long run, we will definitely witness the results of such efforts.
But despite all these, Riot has no intention of dialing down the complexity of future Sets. Higher complexity may have negative trades in higher balance requirements, but it also offers a much more fun gameplay with a richer player experience.
Well, as Riot Mort clearly said, TFT is not backing down on its complexity. Even if it has reached the ceiling, it will try to maintain this level and, if possible, even push beyond it.
While explaining all these, he also dropped another important piece of news. From Set 10, Level 10 will be a permanent feature. Till now, you could only get it through certain augments. The rationale behind this decision is also stated by Riot Mort.
It is seen that tons of players are finding ways to get high-cost champions before reaching high XP levels. So, having a new level will allow the game to reallocate the probability of getting high-cost champions towards the higher levels more accurately. At the same time, it will provide you with fulfilling your fantasies of getting more 3-star high rarity champions in your comp.
In conclusion, the TFT dev team is really trying to continuously push the limit with the game. So, expect more exciting and fun journeys ahead as Riot polishes TFT gameplay to perfection.