It has been five years since the release of Aatrox in League of Legends. Aatrox is a poetic, greatsword-wielding demon that rushed into the battlefield with only one goal in mind: death and destruction. Now, he receives a huge makeover.
Resurrection of the Darkin Blade: Thoughts from an Aatrox Main
Back then, I finished my freshman year at college at Northern Arizona University. I was exhausted, yet had a sense of accomplishment knowing I completed my first year of university.
My skills as a League of Legends player were still noob tier, trying to figure what a Warding Totem was or how to safely farm without getting destroyed by a Zed main. Yes, a few champions caught my eye back then: the Ionian Duchess Karma, the voracious Void creature Kha’Zix, the spitfire Demacian Fiora. But right when June rolled around, Riot’s newest creation caught my attention.
His name was Aatrox. I remember saying “Woah, who is that?” Who was this demonic, malevolent sword-wielding entity? Why did he desire bloodshed and war? Aatrox was the epitome of coolness. Back then, I knew in my heart of hearts, I found my champion. I had found my main.
FOREVER IN A WORLD OF STRIFE, AATROX FORGES ON
The history of Aatrox is interesting, to say the least. When he was released, he was a powerhouse. Statistically proven to be one of highest rated champions in League of Legends history, he outsold others and made huge profits. But in game, he became nothing more than a soldier of destruction. In fact, when he would snowball, he truly was a monster. With so many innate tools and abilities at his disposal, Aatrox was truly an immortal character. Not long afterward, there were indirect nerfs to the meta, and Aatrox soon received the Rengar treatment. Nerf after nerf, Aatrox soon became one of the “forgotten champions.”
Lost in the same purgatory waiting room along with Urgot, Galio, and Mordekaiser, Aatrox was soon outclassed by other powerful duelists.
However, right around the beginning of season seven, Riot gave Aatrox some much-needed quality of life changes. With significant changes to his passives and abilities, he soon became more of a viable, and even flexible pick both in casual and competitive play. It seemed an “Aatrox renaissance” was on the rise. Soon, my beloved demon duelist would be popular again.
However, around a year ago, Riot announced special plans for Aatrox. Instead of a highly anticipated Diver Class update, Riot would be updating Aatrox as a champion. He would be receiving a much requested and needed makeover. The Darkin Blade would unleash a new age of death and destruction once more.
Long story short, Aatrox was a candidate for a VGU, or Visual Gameplay Update, due to his undelivered thematic fantasy not lining up with his ability kit. On top of that, his ability kit was not characteristic of a diver champion. The “drain tank” aspect of his playstyle has also proven to not be a healthy characteristic of the game.
REBORN IN BLOOD
My feelings towards the announcement was a peculiar concoction of excitement, genuine concern, and cautious optimism. Yes, of course, I was overjoyed to hear that a huge gaming company was taking genuine concern to fix my favorite champion. Yes, I was concerned because I did not want Riot to mess up my baby. And yes, I promised myself to not go in with high expectations in the case of the former eventually happening. However, I did not want my demon friend to collect dust and drift into the shadows.
But, Aatrox was essentially my life, so I went into this announcement with much optimism.
Over time, the teasers and well-written blogs only drove my anxiety and excitement through the roof. I only knew one fact: the end product will either revive my passion for him, or it will be doomed to oblivion.
One humid morning at work in the stockroom, I got a notification on my phone. Youtube notified me of a video, from the League of Legends Youtube account. I saw only one word to get my heart dancing. It was “Aatrox: The Darkin Blade.” My hands shook as I scrambled to sit down with my phone.
After I watched, I was out of breath. I was in awe. I truly was in love with Aatrox again, and I knew he would become great again. This chaotic entity danced with his sword, almost hypnotic to behold. He lashed out against characters he had no affiliation with, only intent on killing them. He was no longer a warrior, he wasn’t even a demon anymore. Now known as a god killer, he was something worse. He truly became the world ender.
RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
I was enthralled with his new model, and his new gameplay captured the imagination as it once did when Aatrox was first introduced.
However, with every new, rapid change that Riot implements, comes an avalanche of criticism. Across many Reddit threads and online board posts alike, I read a massive amount of negative reviews. To be honest, it was disheartening. Both Aatrox mains and casual players were disappointed with the new character overall: his new model, new ability kit, new voiceover, etc. It felt like people were too quick to judge or cast an opinion. The standard “I’m not an Aatrox main, but…” soon became obnoxious and pointless.
However, what most of the community was upset about, was the exact opposite for me. While he almost became Riven 2.0, Aatrox finally became the demon he should have been upon release. He fights with a passion and drive that is encouraging. His new voice and attitude is amazing. The new Aatrox, is truly awesome, in every sense of the word.
He still retains his nostalgic, poetic philosophy whilst slamming down a huge halberd on the battlefield. Yet, this fallen warrior beckons for something more. More bloodshed and destruction, and more death.
In all honesty, as both an Aatrox main and enthusiast, the Aatrox rework was a success. He finally became a cohesive character with a solid theme. He finally became the Darkin Blade.
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