One of the biggest gripes this season in League of Legends has been the jungle and the experience gained from killing its monsters.
By killing some camps first that were never meant to be focused, like the raptors, you can hit level three much faster than any lane, and have a huge damage advantage when you make your first gank. The other controversial point of discussion has been the experience catch-up mechanic that grants you bonus experience the more you fall behind in level. This makes it so that junglers won’t fall too far behind if they get shut down early.
All of that may be changing, according to Riot’s most recent post on the official game forums.
“First step will be figuring out what definitely needs changes,” said Andrei “Meddler” van Roon, Riot’s lead gameplay designer. “We’ll then look at what’s feasible to get done in time without sacrificing work on runes.”
Runes Reforged is Riot’s project to replace the entire rune and mastery systems with a new one, and it’s the focus of the preseason update. That being said, even if Riot does discover that jungle exp does need changes, they may not actually ship until after the new season starts.
It’s likely that the design team will decide against making any changes to begin with, though, aside from some small tweaks. After all, the “issues” of jungle exp aren’t exactly issues, they’re more accurately discussions that not everyone agrees on. For example, the raptors granting more exp could be seen as a big advantage, but the camp is much harder to clear at level one than either the red or blue buff, and it requires coordination and extra effort to clear.
Likewise, the catch-up mechanic was introduced to take focus and priority away from the jungle. This time last year, the entire team needed to revolve around getting their jungler ahead of the enemy jungler, and a lot of the time, both junglers AFK farmed to claw for any exp lead they could find. This was unhealthy and changed the jungle role from a support role to a carry role with more influence than both the mid laner and ADC. Despite the catch-up mechanic and boosted exp from certain camps, the junglers on both teams usually end up around or just below the same level as solo laners, so it most likely won’t be viewed as such a massive problem.
The issue that some players take with the catch-up mechanic is the fact that it makes it much easier for junglers to come back, even after they’ve been outmaneuvered and shut down. Good junglers want to feel rewarded for finding these huge leads on their opposing counterparts, and they feel punished for picking early game carries when the enemy can just play a tank and clear a couple of camps to catch up even if they’re too behind.
One could argue that if the catch-up mechanic weren’t around, the jungle meta would be exclusively early game carries, and tanks would cease to exist in the meta, which is essentially the same problem but on the opposite side of the spectrum. Right now though, early junglers aren’t at all out of meta. Kha’Zix, Lee Sin, and Elise are still all over the place, but tanks have their own power as well, so it seems as though the current arguments against catch-up exp have been at least slightly exaggerated.
Perhaps, instead of getting rid of catch-up experience, the amount of it can simply be reduced until the jungler falls two or more levels behind their opponents. That way, shutting down and outplaying bad early game junglers is more rewarding, but it’s not totally impossible to come back from behind.
The next patch will be the Worlds patch, and that means the preseason is rapidly approaching. If Riot decides exp changes need to be made, then we’ll probably see them on the PBE within the next month or two.