The Xerath preview in the latest PC Gamer made him out to be a resource-management champion. Based on the latest info from Riot, though, it sounds like he’s really more of a hyper-range champion than anything else.
Morello posted a mechanics preview of the new mage yesterday, which included a description of several of his skills. Xerath was described as a “howitzer” designed for “long barrages and sieging.” Anyone remember the days of sieging? Remember when it was called poking? Yeah, baby, those days are back.
I think the design concept for Xerath sounds pretty cool, provided it takes a reasonable amount of skill to land and effectively use his spells. It’s always a great feeling to snipe a player with a cross-map Ashe or Ezreal ult, a feeling I’m hoping Xerath can recreate.
From the sound of things, he’ll be dealing big AoE damage from afar. That could easily be something of a problem if his range/damage are too good. Even with the spell Locus of Power, which locks him in place for extended range and defensive penetration, I think we could see too many easy snipes without really sacrificing much in terms of mobility. Also, consider the kind of zoning a character with long-range burst could perform on Summoner’s Rift. If he’s the Caitlyn of AP carries, I think he’s probably going to have some balance issues.
I would be interested to see a character with Xerath’s mechanics have a minimum cast range. Imagine if you couldn’t hit players that were right on top of you, but had to play from a distance. That could be a very cool mechanic. With the prevalence of dash/mobility mechanics in the game, though, it could be really frustrating.
I’m definitely intrigued by Xerath’s design direction so far. I’m hopeful he won’t be instaban OP, but it’s hard to imagine a way to make a character with his described skillset feel balanced. We’ll have to wait and see.