Riot Games gave another in-game look at Udyr’s upcoming rework today, which is slated to release later this year. While fans first saw a glimpse of the champion’s updated kit last year, the latest post shows more about the champion’s future look—including some of his new animations, overhauled cosmetics, and the design philosophy behind changes to his model and effects.
Udyr is one of the oldest champions in the history of League, released on Dec. 2, 2009. After over 10 years, the champion’s in-game model is outdated and doesn’t look on par with the standard of cosmetics in the game. The community agreed, and Udyr won last year’s poll on which character should get a VGU. The Spirit Walker was long due for a rework, and late last year, Riot Games shared a concept art that looked refined and remained faithful to the image of the champion.
The latest blog post gives fans a better idea of what to expect, with input from a series of developers regarding the champion’s animations, model, and even effects.
Riot lead champion producer Ryan “Reav3” Mireles outlined some of the goals for the character going forward, which include staying with his unique stance mechanic and giving him tools that could help him achieve outplays, which he lacks.
Mireles also went over Udyr’s visual model and stated that Riot’s goal is to “build on Udyr’s visuals, not reinvent them”. According to the developer, in terms of League Lore, Udyr will have stronger ties with the Freljord regions in Runeterra.
In the concept art released by Riot last year, Udyr was remodeled and received antlers to suit his wilderness theme. As Riot experimented more with the new look, the company decided to remove the accessories completely.
“In one attempt they looked like wings, and in another they looked like propellers,” character artist Jason “OOYOO” Namgung said. “No matter how hard we tried to get them to work, they just always looked off. Although the idea was cool, Udyr’s the animal spirit guy, not the antler guy. So ultimately we decided to table the antlers and refocus on his animal spirit fantasy.”
Riot is “still early in Udyr’s production and everything’s a work in progress,” according to Namgung, but the team is “slowly getting closer to the final look and feel” for the champion.
Creating the mountain-like base body of Udyr wasn’t the only challenge in the rework. Tweaking the champion’s animations also came with a set of hurdles of its own, according to Animator Koingyeal “Koing” Jang. Jang wanted to make each of the four stances feel different but still connected with Udyr’s main themes. His Phoenix Stance in particular aimed to mix several undertones—”bird-like, magical, and related to ice,” according to the blog post. The end result was a swipe attack and ice effects resembling wings on Udyr’s arms, as a subtle hint to the Freljordian demigod Anivia.
Udyr’s visual effects, on the other hand, were meant to be a blend between a League champion and a character from a fighting game, visual effects artist Luis “Riot Bloois” Aguas recounted on the blog post.
To tweak Udyr’s Awakened stances, Aguas wanted to bring some inspiration from the fighting genre, giving a “powerful feeling” to the new animations. He designed three effects for Udyr’s Bear Stance: “the idle VFX with bear claws active, the stance activation with the active Awaken buff, and his passive’s Awaken VFX cast and buffs,” he said. All of these meant to signal that the champion got enhancements to his auto attacks. After settling on them, it was time to showcase how they interact with enemies.
While performing the Awakened Bear Stance ability, the lighting effect from the auto attacks transfers onto other opponents via a chain effect. This is a hint to another Freljordian demigod, Volibear. When the enemy is alone, the lightning strikes from above, referring to another ability of Volibear in the game.
Like other champions’ VGUs, Udyr’s new look won’t be limited to the base champion. His cosmetics are also reworked to make it up to the modern standard, according to concept artist Justin “RiotEarp” Albers.
Alberts confirmed Riot will start the cosmetic revamp with Udyr’s recent Dragon Oracle cosmetic, which was released in 2019. “It’s a great-looking skin with an excellent thematic, so there’s a lot to keep with some things that need to be adjusted to match his new character,” he said.
In the end, Riot mentioned it does take a lot of time to revamp Udyr cosmetics. Even though there are only five cosmetics of the champion, the stances alone take longer than average champions. The developers should eventually show another glimpse of the Udyr VGU update later before releasing it this year.
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