Riven impressions: the power vs. kit conundrum

I’ve finally been able to get in enough games with Riven to write a proper impressions post. It seems the prevalent opinion is that she’s underpowered and needs a buff, but I think her problems are a little more complicated. I think Riven has a beastly kit, a kit strong enough that the smallest buffs could make her insanely overpowered. To me, Riven is a classic example of too many skills on one champion, even if she doesn’t hit that hard (I think she hits plenty hard, though).

Let’s break down her full set of skills at level 18. She has a three-part dash on a 12 second cooldown, an AoE stun on a 7 second cooldown, a dash/shield on a 7 second cooldown, and a damage steroid/ranged execute on a 45 second cooldown. That’s a pretty nasty kit if she can get farmed, which I’ve been able to do in several games.

One of the great things about Riven is her ability to weave stuns with her team. by getting to a fight early, she can dash -> stun to initiate, let her teammates use CC, and stun very quickly again. Unfortunately, she has to be very close to her target for that stun to land, and this is a recurring issue for her. Her ult’s active has the same problem, as does the third tick on her Broken Wings.

Riven also suffers from animation issues. After activating her stun, her next auto attack seems dramatically delayed. Her ultimate’s active has a massive delay on its cast, and the animations for Broken Wings are long enough that it’s easy to flip away from your target, especially if they’re moving. Add this all to the fact that Trinity Force doesn’t do her much good and Riven starts to look pretty weak.

As I mentioned above, though, I think she has an awesome kit. Frankly, if Jarvan and Irelia and Udyr and their Trinity Force friends didn’t have such ridiculous damage output, Riven would probably look pretty great. As it is, she’s totally reliant on attack damage for scaling, but because of her kit, her scaling can’t be very good.


Riven Skill List Announced

Come Tuesday (hopefully) we’ll all get a look at the newest champion to join the League: Riven, the Exile. Riot posted her skill list this weekend, which, as always, gives us a chance to breakdown her potential strengths and weaknesses. Let’s have a look.

Passive – Runic Blade: Riven’s abilities charge her blade, causing her to do bonus damage on her next autoattack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, but only expends one at a time.

Broken Wings: Riven steps forward and lashes out in a series of powerful sword slashes. This ability can be reactivated up to 3 times in a short period.

1st Use/2nd Use: Deals damage to a small area in front of her.
3rd Use: Jumps into the air and slams downward, causing a larger impact nova that deals damage and knocks nearby enemies back.

Ki Shout: Riven damages and stuns nearby enemies.

Valor: Riven dashes forward and gains a shield for a short duration.

Blade of the Exile (Ultimate): Riven’s sword reforms, giving her a percentage multiplier on her total attack damage, extended range on her damaging abilities and basic attacks and the ability to use Wind Slash once.

Wind Slash: While Blade of the Exile is active, Riven can reactivate the ability to emit a large shockwave that deals damage to all units hit based on their missing life.

My first response on seeing her skill list went something like, “wow, that’s a lot of combo abilities.” I’m always a little wary of skill descriptions that read “does X, Y and Z.” Her Ki Shout and Valor both seem to be fairly normal (though I still hate shield abilities and this one is even paired with a dash – why do we need to be able to harass/initiate without risk?). I’ll have to see how Broken Wings plays in game. It will either be a cool combo ability or feel like a clumsy version of Three-Talon Strike. I’m hoping for the first. I’m also guessing the knockback will be something like Maokai’s Arcane Smash – nothing too big but enough to count.

Her ult, on the other hand, sounds like a mess. It’s a steroid plus a missing-health-based nuke. It’s a little unclear what kind of range she gets on the active nuke, but from her pictures it looks like it may be slightly larger than a Talon Rake. I’m not a huge fan of steroid skills because I think they’re pretty tough to balance.

Steroids are also somewhat opaque to opponents. When Vayne ults, it’s not exactly clear that she gains a bunch of attack speed and damage. I know she can turn invisible, and seems to be insanely fast. I know I seem to die more quickly, but it’s difficult to quantify exactly what it’s doing in the moment. By contrast, it’s pretty obvious how hard a Caitlyn ult or a Tibbers or a Karthus ult is going to hit just by taking a quick look at farm.

I’ll hold off on too much judgement, though. I think the combination of a dash, a mini-dash, an AoE stun, and a knockup could be a lot of fun. As I write that out, though, and consider it with a missing-health AoE nuke, I can’t help but think she’ll be a frustrating opponent.


Riven Sneak Peek is Up

Riot posted the latest champion sneak peek this weekend, giving us a glimpse of Riven, the Exile. It comes again in the form of a mini-comic with some incredibly cheesy and over-the-top nonsense for a storyline. Ah well, this game isn’t about lore. It’s about trolling and rage-quitting.

I haven’t seen anything about her skillset that isn’t speculative, so I’ll just say we’re waiting to see whether or not she should build a Trinity Force. My guess: yes. From her looks I’d say she’s another melee assassin, which seems like a really odd release after Talon. It might be interesting if she had some mobility and so was capable of being a real force on Dominion.

It looks like we’ll be waiting until next week for server downtime to bring her live, which will also mean the end of Season 1 and, hopefully, the launch of Dominion.


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