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Kayn gameplay preview

Impressions of the new champion after some PBE testing

Last week, Riot reveled the newest League of Legend’s champion to date, Kayn. A versatile Assassin/Juggernaut jungler, Kayn decides how he wants to play and what he wants to do each and every game. Because of his unique transformation mechanic, his gameplay can vary quite a bit from game to game. I tested him for a while on the PBE last week and I have some thoughts to share.

If you have seen any gameplay of Kayn, you have probably discovered that he seems pretty dang strong at the moment. Well, that impression wouldn’t be inaccurate. Kayn has one of those kits that is going to make him strong no matter what his numbers are. Considering that he can literally walk through walls, this is alarming news.

When I first saw Kayn, he reminded me a lot of Tryndamere. That is what we call a bad first impression. However, when I actually jumped in and got to play as Kayn, I learned that he feels fantastic. His very short dash into his Q, a spinning AoE move, feels smooth to use. His W feels great as well, able to deal extra damage from a longer range.

Out of all of his abilities, his E feels the strangest to use. Considering that it allows you to walk through walls, I feel like that makes some sense. Remarkably, once you get used to it, it feels great. However, the learning curve is going to be awkward. Once you are wall-bound, you can path Kayn anywhere on the map and he will move as though there is nothing between him and his goal. The problem here is that wall-walking only lasts for about one and a half seconds pre-wall. Once you are inside, the timer gets extended significantly. But unless you are diligently walking into the wall as you hit E, you are gonna have at least a few times where your ability runs out before you can Slimer your way through.

Regarding the two forms, it seems like the Darkin form is the most powerful, or at least the most popular. Given the lifesteal, the tankiness and the CC that it pops onto the W, this isn’t really surprising. However, the Shadow Assassin has a movement to him that feels extremely fluid. The damage potential for the Shadow Assassin form is also through the roof. Like a weird combination of Yasuo and Kha’Zix, he can rip through everything in his path as long as he has the items. As players get more time with Kayn, surely the split will find more of a balance, but Darkin definitely seems best for learning.

The transformation process itself is a little weird. It requires that you deal damage to enemy champions. You don’t have to kill them or anything like that, you just have to fight. This means Kayn is going to be an aggressive jungler. His clear is fast and his ganks are decent enough to get the job done. I imagine most players are going to try and gank as much as possible, as filling the transformation meter is a huge powerspike.

Depending on who Kayn damages the most while gathering tranform-y juice, melee or range, he will be prompted with a transformation on his champion portrait: Darkin for melee and Phantom Assassin for ranged. The other transformation is locked behind a timer. So while you can’t use it immediately, it will become available after a little patience. So if you really want to play an assassin against a gang of Dariuses and Maokais, you may have to wait a minute.

What is pretty amazing about the transformations is that they feel unique and impactful without ever feeling like a different champion. It is a strange feeling to describe. Because the transformation is permanent and changes the functionality and look of several abilities, it would be so easy for it to feel like another champion entirely. Alternatively, it could feel like it realistically makes very little difference. Instead, the transition feels smooth, different and yet the same. The champion team has done a really impressive job striking the balance for Kayn in this regard.

After playing him myself and watching him be played, my main concern is still that he is totally gonna suck to have as an enemy. His damage is ridiculous and his lifesteal is worse. More important than any of that, his ability to walk through walls promises an amount of frustration that I am really not looking forward to.

It is important to remember that the PBE is not the live servers. There is a reason that champions hit the test severs before going out to live. However, while numbers can certainly change, I still have concerns regarding a champion who can walk through walls. I am not sure that will ever change.

My sincere hope is that Kayn will come out and be the super cool champion that he could be and not the frustrating mess that I fear he might be.

Time will tell, and we will have a detailed guide ready for all the hopeful Kayn players on day one.