Riot drops League of Legends level cap, big changes coming to leveling and rewards

Riot Games has detailed some major changes coming to League of Legends that will, among other things, remove the level 30 cap and merge IP with blue essence, which the studio hopes will make the game more accessible to newcomers and more consistently rewarding for veterans. The changes were revealed in a Riot Pls video released over the weekend, while a follow-up blog post dug down into the reasons for the changes. 

Riot actually began looking into "big, long-last problems" related to IP, rewards, and leveling last year. The investigation reached four primary conclusions: Spending IP on runes "doesn't feel good," grinding to unlock new Champions takes too long (especially for newbies), there isn't enough for veterans to spend their IP on, and "the leveling system hasn't aged well and offers nothing to longtime players."

To address those shortcomings, LoL will be changed beginning with the upcoming preseason so that instead of receiving a small amount of IP at the end of each game, players will get an unlocked chest when they level up. The contents of these chests will be customized based on your level—the system "levels up with you," as Riot described it—and with the level cap gone, players can continue to earn worthwhile rewards regardless of how long they've been at it. 

"When you're leveling from one to 30, you'll get more Champions and blue essence," lead producer New001 explains in the video. "At high-level milestones, you'll earn more exclusive rewards like emotes that can show off your status."

IP is also being merged with blue essence to create a new in-game currency, although it will continue to be called blue essence, or "BE." The new currency will work in the same way as the previous separate currencies, and pricing will be unchanged. "Before, if you got a shard for a champ you didn’t want and disenchanted it, there wasn’t much you could do with your blue essence. Now, though, you can just take it to the store and get whatever champ you want," Riot explained. "Merging IP with BE directly connects the store with the loot system in a way that gives you more choice about how to use your rewards." 

Other changes are coming in the preseason, including a reduction in the relative value of disenchanted shards (to make up for the overall increase in shards the new leveling system will dole out), and "champion earn rate balancing," which for most players should remain about the same or maybe even feel a little quicker. "The only folks who’ll feel like they’re earning currency a little more slowly in the new system are higher level folks who play many games each day. That’s largely because we’re going to turn the 'first win of the day' into a more substantial daily mission. It’ll give you way more XP than before, and subsequent games will kick out a little bit less," Riot said. 

The amount of blue essence received from disenchanting shards is also being scaled up, although Riot noted that the increase is "really just balancing to help BE maintain its spending power," and existing blue essence in players' inventories will scaled up as well. And since IP is being merged with blue essence, IP boosts are no longer available for purchase. "If you already have active IP boosts, they’ll just turn into XP boosts when preseason hits. XP boosts will also be repriced to cost what IP boosts do today (since that’s now how you’ll get rewards faster)." 

The new Runes Reforged system, which Riot revealed earlier this year, is slated to go live on the League PBE later this month. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.