Ability Remake: Twitch, the Plague Rat
By Trevor 'Clasick' Romleski 
In an upcoming patch we'll be revisiting one of our original classic champions:, the Plague Rat. Twitch's ability will be seeing some changes to shift him toward a more aggressive role on the battlefield. Since this ability allowed Twitch to remain invisible for significant periods of time, enemy players were forced to adopt an extremely cautious and defensive playstyle in response. Since we want League of Legends to be a fun, fast-paced experience, we decided to update Twitch with a new version of .
Even beyond its duration, we saw some major issues with theability, primarily surrounding the nature of the Attack Speed bonus that it provided. While Attack Speed helps quickly stack up charges of , this bonus ramped up over the total duration Twitch remained invisible. This forced players to strike a balance between selecting the ideal time to strike and attempting to lurk for as long as possible in order to reach the maximum bonus. This was especially problematic for Plague Rat enthusiasts, since it forced Twitch to forego farming gold in order to reach his maximum Attack Speed bonus.
To shift emphasis towards a more action-oriented style of play, we retooledto promote aggressive repositioning over stalking. The first step in accomplishing this was to change the ability so that it always applies the maximum Attack Speed bonus, solidifying the emphasis on selecting the opportune moment of attack. We also drastically shortened the duration to give the ability a more tactical context, and gave a Movement Speed boost to help Twitch quickly outflank his opponent.
Another issue Twitch faced was an over-reliance on the enormous damage potential of hisability. More often than not, Twitch's success or failure on the battlefield depended on his ability to output massive amounts of damage over the course of rather than on and . Since most of his interesting gameplay revolved around poison combos, we wanted to augment this aspect of his kit both to make him more interesting to play and to make him less one dimensional.
For starters, we noticed most Twitch players usingto begin every engagement rather than waiting to build up stacks of . For this reason, we decided to replace this ability with one that was better suited to initiating combat. This new ability, , not only allows Twitch to initiate by slowing a group of enemies at range, but also gives him a head start on his combo by adding stacks of to those caught within the area of effect. To top things off, while still adds bonus damage for each stack of on the target, it no longer consumes those stacks when cast, allowing your poisons to continue to tick away. will also now receive a damage bonus based on your total Attack Damage, preserving its function as a heavy hitting nuke even into the late game.
The final step in the process was repurposingto better support this new emphasis on poison gameplay. To do this, we scaled back the massive, team-wide damage potential by making each missile deal reduced damage after passing through each target. To compensate for this, we increased its missile speed to make attacks more difficult to dodge and removed the ammunition requirement, allowing Twitch to spray poisoned arrows to his heart's content for the full duration of his . This allows tanks to take the brunt of the initial assault for their team through good positioning, but still allows Twitch to douse the more vulnerable enemies at the back of the formation with stacks of . These more powerful poison-delivery options help Twitch maintain a constant threat level, allowing him to take down high value targets without leaning so heavily on .
Champion update: A New Breed of Plague Rat
The rumors have substance. Zaun's toxic sewers, already responsible for creating the great Plague Rat known as , have mutated him further still. He's been spotted - smelled, rather - cackling and scuttling towards PBE, giving horrified onlookers a first glimpse at contemporary pestilence.
- Champion Insights
We've had our sights set on a Twitch update for years now. While some older champions in our game had (and in some cases, still have) the famous pizza feet, old Twitch barely had feet at all. In fact, because he was mostly hidden beneath his huge cloak, his animation rig (the skeleton we add joints to so we can create animations and emotes) was extremely limiting, making it hard to create new or different skins for the champion. So instead of fudging our way through and doing our best with old Twitch, we figured it'd be best to start from scratch and create a completely new Plague Rat.
Now, champion updates are always going to be a sensitive topic: there are 118 champions in League of Legends right now, and every one is near and dear to someone's heart. So, in order to satisfy existing Twitch players while potentially opening up the champ to new players, we needed to identify what made him lovable in the eyes of the players that love him. After surveys (both internal and external) here are the key pillars we set out for Twitch's update:
- Comically crazed and sinister
We loved Twitch's character, and took active steps not just to preserve it in the rework, but give it avenues to really shine. Now, his models, animations and voice over reinforce the same slightly manic and silly-but-he's-still-killing-me-ow-my-face persona.
- 2014-quality models
Twitch was initially released way back in 2009, so we had five years' worth of tech and vision improvements to implement in his update. We're adding some ground-breaking features in here by rigging the lower half of his body (imagine that!) and showcasing his character through flavorful animations that flow through his entire body, including his tail. Of course, we've also included a bunch of small touches we now deem standard, such as different run animations depending on movement speed, extra VO lines and a suitably odious new splash (coming soon!)
- Quality of life improvements
Not all of Twitch's changes need to blow your minds. While we were working on the new models, we added in a few nice QoL tweaks that should help out both Twitch and his enemies:
- We added a sound effect and puff of poison particles to better indicate the moment when invisibility kicks in. This should better indicate to Twitch players when they've turned invisible, particularly when they're being attacked.
- We gave a range indicator, and added a particle linking Twitch with his victims. This should help players on the opposite team understand why their health just took a nosedive.
- We added extra particles to that show who else is being hit by Twitch's . This should help both Twitch and his enemies see where his damage is going.