League of Legends is getting another jungle rework in Season 13 as Riot aims to make the role “more exciting” for… non-junglers. The developers are cutting complexities in the jungle to entice new players to try it out, including pathing recommendations, new jungle pets, and leashing changes.
The jungle in League of Legends is arguably the most crucial role. There’s a lot of pressure on the playmakers who roam the map, clearing their neutral camps, ganking lanes and applying pressure, and ultimately coming in clutch for Smites.
However, because of it playing vastly different to the other four roles, new players have struggled to find a home in the jungle. It’s complex, and almost like an entire new game to learn.
That prohibitive barrier of entry is something Riot is looking to address in League of Legends Season 13 with a swathe of changes in preseason. The ultimate goal? “Making it easier for existing players to play the jungle role,” Patrick Noonan, the Summoner’s Rift Product Lead said.
“We all know this as a high-impact role and it can be a bit more complex and intimidating for some players, making them less likely to opt into it. We want to make some changes to make it more exciting for those who don’t normally play jungle.”
New jungle pets replace items
The first, and biggest change, is the introduction of new jungle pets. They replace jungle items, and are how junglers upgrade their Smite later in the game. However, instead of giving a small one-off bonus, pets will be there to help junglers clear neutral camps throughout the game, and also buff their kits in different ways.
“A big part of what you’re doing is you’re moving between the forests between the lanes and killing all the neutral monsters,” Noonan explained. “Historically we’ve done this by having specific jungle items and that’s how you’d do your empowerment, but we’re adding a new mechanic to this. Instead of buying a jungle item you’ll be buying a jungle pet.”
Pets will upgrade across the game when you feed them treats. Treats are obtained by getting champion takedowns, killing monsters, and also automatically generate slowly over time so as to give players a catch-up mechanic.
The three options offered give players some decision-making power and customization. The defensive Salamander grants a shield and tenacity, the mobile Fox gives bonus movement speed, while the aggressive Cat boosts damage. Once you buy one pet though, you cannot change it later in the game.
“We think this is exciting,” he continued. “It puts a clear and more understandable thematic on what’s empowering junglers when they’re playing and it gives you some distinct strategic options to choose from at the beginning of the game depending on what you think will be most important.”
Camp patience rework and pathing recommendations helps new junglers
The other two major changes, however, will be a contentious point for veteran junglers in League of Legends. Part of the depth of jungle is in how you can clear camps — taking the optimal path each game, and jugging aggro effectively to take multiple monsters at once.
Now the game is dictating these two things for you somewhat. The camp patience system is being reworked to remove the possibility of leashing multiple camps at once — like taking gromp and blue buff. There will be a visual indicator for leashing range so as to not extend beyond the bounds too.
“This will make clearing the jungle more approachable for a lot of players who aren’t as familiar, and it should level the playing field between champions because some have large advantages being able to clear multiple camps at the same time so effectively,” Noonan said.
As for pathing, Riot will now give players a recommended first jungle path at the start of the game. This gives novice junglers a bit of direction for the first four minutes of a game so they can get started on the right foot. This setting can also be disabled for those who don’t want the guidance.
How will League’s new jungle feel for veterans?
While both changes significantly help the autofilled jungler or a new player learning the role, they do take out a large amount of complexity and nuance that set apart good junglers from great ones. Riot is aware of this fact, but are confident they can make it a better experience for both sides.
“We wanted to target two separate audiences: completely new players to the jungle, or players who play jungle incidentally whether it be with their friends or they’re getting autofilled or a jungle secondary player,” design lead Matthew Leung-Harrison said.
“We acknowledge there’s some veteran jungle players who are going to be upset from these changes, but we think after it’s optimized out, even veteran jungle players are going to find something they like with the new jungle.
“Specifically there are some things that cause veteran jungle players to like the role right now but are too alienating for new players entering the jungle, so we’re in a catch 22. We acknowledge we need to make some trade-offs there — we don’t want to remove things like camp dragging completely, but we want to reduce its effectiveness by a little.”
These jungle changes are on top of a rework and reintroduction of the Chemtech Dragon with an all-new buff — and no zombie soul to contend with. All these changes will be shipped live as part of the League of Legends Season 13 preseason update in mid-November.