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The history of Volibear, The Thunder’s Roar

His story, his release history, and how he’s changed.

Riot Games

Volibear has never been in a good place in League of Legends. With one of the worst kits in the game, he is a sad victim of “old League design.” But that hasn’t stopped players like myself latching onto his weird personality and fantastic bear puns.

There’s something about Volibear that just appeals to people. Personally, Voli was the first champion I ever really played in League. He holds a special place in my heart and the heart of ... probably like 10 other people.

So join me as we explore how the Volibear we have today came to be.

Volibear’s Release History

Voli was revealed in as unceremonious a way as possible: a board post. Here, some really cringe worthy hype writing was put in place for everyone to get excited about a lightning bear in armor. While the concept is undeniably cool, the lack of any kind of excitement in his announcement post is pretty jarring nowadays.

Riot Games

Volibear was first added to the game in Patch 1.0.0.130. He was officially released on Nov. 29, 2011. He was added to the game alongside Imperial Lux, Silverfang Akali, and the 2011 Sivir rework.

Volibear’s Lore

Voli’s lore has changed considerably over the years and was essentially retconned in 2017 with the release of Voli’s brother, Ornn.

But Volibear’s first lore iteration saw him as a very different character. He became the chieftain of the bear-like Ursine people in the Freljord after the death of his brother. In the storm ceremony, he saw a vision of death for his people. To prevent war, Voli traveled to meet with Queen Ashe and forge an alliance under an anti-war banner.

Volibear’s second iteration is ... almost the polar (heh) opposite of his first. He reaches the top of the mountain, gets lightning powers and sees a vision of death, but his goal is not peace. Instead, he wants to prepare his people for war against the coming doom, what we now know as the Watchers. Volibear and the Ursine hook up with Sejuani, not Ashe, to help keep the Freljord strong and hardy.

Volibear’s most recent iteration is by far the coolest. Now, he is not just a chieftain or some kind of pawn in a queen’s game. No, Volibear is a god. He is the god of storms and war. He is also brother to Anivia, Ornn, and the mysterious Seal Sister. He and Ornn have fought many a time and Volibear is responsible for the destruction of Ornn’s followers. He is evil, hateful, and savage. He has changed quite a bit over the years.

How Voli has changed

Unlike Skarner, Volibear’s abilities haven’t actually ever changed. However, they have been slightly reworked over the years.

One of the first major additions to Volibear was that of the speed boost on his Q. While it seems impossible that Volibear was ever expected to catch up to champions without it, it seems that he used to drop to all fours and just ... move the same speed as before.

In the same patch that gave him the speed boost, he also got hit with a pretty nasty nerf to his passive. That obnoxious ability that lets him heal a massive amount of his health if he reaches critical used to reset every time he died. Count your blessings if you didn’t play League until after 2011.

From seasons 3-6, Volibear got almost no significant changes, with only a few nerfs or buffs here and there. In season 7, he had some changes to make his ult less terrible. But it was season 8 that saw Voli’s first real changes in years.

In patch 8.4, the current League of Legends patch as of this writing, Volibear saw changes to several of his abilities. His Q speed now decays when he turns away from champions rather than dropping instantly. His W has half its cooldown reset if it’s used on a minion. But his E got the biggest changes. Using Majestic Roar now very lightly knocks champions back. Even better, using it on an airborne target will deal far more damage.

Unfortunately, Volibear still has easily the worst ultimate in League. Maybe in another seven years he can get a respectable R.

Volibear’s skins

Volibear currently has five skins:

  • Thunder Lord Volibear
  • Runeguard Volibear
  • Captain Volibear
  • El Rayo Volibear
  • (LEGACY) Northern Storm Volibear

Thunder Lord Volibear is suprisingly OK for how initially boring it seems. The gold theme really does a nice job of making him look very godlike, which is funny considering how long ago it was. This really feels like a skin meant to make Volibear seem more “Thor” than he was ever meant to.

In my opinion, Runeguard Volibear is the Volibear skin. Now, to be fair, this was the first League skin I ever bought, but I think it’s a pretty good one. It still looks gorgeous and basically just improves everything about Volibear’s base. If only there was a way to get rid of the HORRIBLE braided goatee the skin has.

Captain Volibear is hilarious. It’s not a very good skin at all if I’m being honest, BUT it does feature Volibear with a sick, 80’s mustache. That’s pretty good. In terms of silly skins, this is Volibear’s best option because ...

El Rayo Volibear is so damn bad that it burns my eyes when I look at it. It turns him into a big, dumb, yellow bear the likes of which even the kindly Whinny the Pooh would be embarrassed by. Please don’t use this skin, it’s very, very bad.

It’s a shame that Northern Storm Volibear is legacy because it’s actually pretty damn cool. It turns him into a super cool, Mister Freeze type charachter but like ... a bear. It also still looks better than the crusty ass that is base Volibear so the removal is really just tragic.