Riot Games set out to create something “unique” with Vex, League of Legends’ next champion. Born and bred in Bandle City, the Rift’s latest yordle is dark, angsty, and—most importantly—relatable.
Vex is someone “you might see yourself in,” Riot said today in a dev post. She’s a champion that isn’t all that different from a “surly ‘90s slacker” that’s “kind of too cool for everything.” But her lack of motivation is something that resonated with principal narrative writer John O’Bryan the most.
“I really wanted Vex to resonate with anyone with a history of depression,” he said. “Who the fuck hasn’t wanted to not get out of bed and go do what they gotta do?”
The writers wanted to lean more into the “teenage feel of apathy and angst” than “outright depression,” though. They weren’t sure if they were dealing with normal teenage hormones, bad moods, or actual clinical depression.
“Teenage angst is practically universal, and it felt like a unique personality for a yordle champ,” Riot said. “But a surly, unmotivated teenager ran the risk of being kinda one-dimensional, and people are far, far more complex than that. Vex is more than that.”
In Vex’s champion trailer, she can be seen shuffling, practically dragging her feet as she grunts and groans, and complains about anything and everything around her. “Leave me alone,” “ugh, people,” and “damn, walking sucks,” she mumbles.
But she’s not just moody and apathetic, according to Riot. “There’s more going on in her furry little yordle head that the team wanted to express.”
Vex’s visual design is complex, feeding into her personality. At first glance, she looks like a typical—albeit tiny—goth girl with dark eyeshadow and an oversized hoodie in shades of black, green, and purple.
But Vex’s “Shadow,” which looms over her as she walks around Summoner’s Rift, is what gives her an “outlet for her emotions.” She often speaks to her Shadow with annoyance and anger, which, according to Riot, “says something about how she sees herself.”
Vex’s Shadow isn’t akin to the relationship shared between Kindred’s Wolf and Lamb, though. It gives a “glimpse behind the carefully crafted mask of indifference to the thoughtful, crazy expressive yordle underneath,” according to Riot, and to the “crushes she pretends not to have.”
Her abilities also play into her personality. Vex is annoyed by everything around her, “especially if it’s hyper, and peppy,” Riot said. Her passive ability, for example, cancels out dashes, one of the most “high-energy” and “annoying” things in League.
Every so often, Vex’s passive, Doom ‘n Gloom, causes her next basic ability to interrupt dashes and fear enemies. Whenever a nearby enemy dashes or blinks, they also become marked, dealing bonus damage. “Basically, the more an enemy dashes, the more damage she deals and interrupts their dashes,” said Bryan “Axes” Salvatore, game designer manager.
In the end, Vex is a “bigger gamble” than the devs would usually take with a champion. “I think some people will really love her, and some won’t,” O’Bryan said. “Making champions is just like making a rainbow. You have to make a rainbow when you’re making all these champs, and Vex gets to be our dark gray.”
Vex, the Gloomist is set to be released on Sept. 23 with League Patch 11.19.
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