I was, once upon a time, a Swain main. Ultimately, his clunky last hitting drove me away onto sleeker, smoother animated champions like Quinn. Despite that, he’s always held a special place in my heart.
Ever since I first entered a game as Swain and beheld his gnarled features, listened to his raspy voice, and saw his limp, I was in love. Even Beatrice was bursting in character, from the way Swain had built a perch into her shoulder for her to preen on to the way she’d sit on her master and examine his eyes when he died. Swain wasn’t beautiful, he wasn’t polished, and yet he popped out of the screen and entrenched himself deeply within my memories.
When Swain’s reveal went up, I felt ... nothing. Updates like Heimerdinger and Twitch have hewn close to the original vision, updating them to modern day standards while keeping the core of their character intact. Swain is a new character altogether, with some shared history and a similar face. Yes, his voice over is charming and expertly delivered, he looks much better, and he has some really good lines. I’m sure his kit will be more interesting and provide better gameplay. I am not questioning the skill of the team who developed him; just their intent. Swain has been polished so much that there is nothing left to catch interest. He has turned from a cold, gnarled, hyper-rational, old, ugly, disabled survivor into yet another hot, ripped daddy in a sea of beautiful people.
While characters like Urgot and Yorick who are ugly or unsympathetic may fall to the wayside, Swain was an interesting character who had played a major part in the lore. The first time he shows up is as a soldier, making quite the impression as his battlefield injury is treated:
Even behind the echoing crack as the sand counterweights reset his tibia, Swain’s measuring gaze never flickered, nor did his eyes twitch from the pop of his fibula. He refused the doctor’s recommendation of magical treatment for the leg’s inoperable damage, requesting only a spare crutch before hobbling away.
From there, he worked his way up to Grand General despite the fact that he was seen as weak, disabled, and discarded by his peers. He inspired loyalty despite his face and his posture, he waged war and stood in the back lines, leaning on his cane. The fact that he could turn into a furious raven monster at any time made his standard appearance even more interesting and lent an air of mystery to him.
Now, there is no mystery. It’s a demon arm. He lost the arm, so he put a demon arm on there instead. It gives him powers. Also, he’s incredibly shredded and has sick abs under his armor.
The worst part about Swain’s rework is that Swain’s original character could have existed just fine in the game, and if you needed new Swain, you could introduce the long lost and heavily awaited General Du Couteau, the father of Katarina and Cassiopeia and mentor of Talon. Du Couteau could have filled new-Swain’s role just fine, and left us our original Master Tactician.
I’m not saying original Swain was perfect, but the rework commits the cardinal sin of League of Legends character design—it’s boring.