League of Legends’ vampiric Champion Briar will take a bite out of player's control

League of Legends’ vampiric Champion Briar will take a bite out of player's control
Images via Riot Games

Written by 

Dani Cross


31st Aug 2023 16:00

When designing League of Legends Champions like Briar, Riot is always trying to find unique mechanics to add to the game. With fewer Champions releasing compared to the early days, each Champion has to present something new to the table.

Enter Briar, a vampiric jungler who was trapped in a pillory by the Black Rose in Noxus after failing the missions they gave her. She has a lot of power within that makeshift prison, a power she uses to break free of her constraints, and it’s up to players to decide when to unleash it at the cost of their control over her.

Crimson Chaos

Concept Art for Briar in League of Legends
Click to enlarge

Rather than introducing a complex new mechanic, Briar’s unique selling point is quite simple. She grows stronger when you use one of her abilities, Blood Frenzy, and relentlessly charges at the nearest enemy. In theory, you can take your hands off the mouse and keyboard and watch the carnage - but that’s where the complexity lies.

Knowing when to pull the trigger and lose control will no doubt be the core of figuring out Briar. Inexperienced players will end up dying if they relinquish their control at the wrong time. You also need to know when to pull back and return Briar to her pillory using her E.

Her designer, Riot August, said Briar is about “restraint” and choosing “when to give in”. Good Briar players will have a very good idea of when they need to go all out and when to dial things back. Patience is the key - waiting until halfway through a fight to go berserk might be the key to winning it, and that might be tough for first-time Briar players.

Out of Control

Concept art for Briar in League of Legends.
Click to enlarge

Briar is all about “living on the edge”, a concept that should appeal to many players on paper. Champions like Zed or Yasuo are some of the more popular choices in League of Legends, characters who appeal to thrillseekers who enjoy being in the heart of combat and pulling off flashy plays. 

However, Briar’s lack of control in her strongest moments might have the opposite effect. If players feel they’re not really doing much, just hitting Briar’s W or ultimate and watching her go to town, she might become stale or uninteresting for those looking to show off their skill expression. Players want to make these plays themselves, and the extent to which Briar allows this remains to be seen. There are lots of ways to get killed if you make mistakes, and mistakes will presumably be made often when learning how to play her.

Her passive, Crimson Curse, could either help or harm her playability too. It applies a bleed to enemies that heal Briar, but she can’t regenerate health innately. Not being able to passively heal over time is dangerous, but her immense healing capabilities in combat could make her a monster.

She can still use health potions, red buff or Ocean Drake, but the lack of healing outside of combat might be jarring for players at first. And if her healing is easily nullified with grievous wounds, it’s easy to see how Briar could become frustrating to play. August promises she will heal “a lot”, but in the aftermath of a heavy-healing meta this could be a worrying prospect for some longtime players.

It will be interesting to see where the balance ends up. Briar’s concept is strong, but we’re yet to see how players will react to having their control relinquished so regularly. It’s almost like a form of self-crowd control, and may take a lot of getting used to. On the flip side, it could be an absolute blast to watch Briar go crazy in a teamfight.

Carving a Niche

Splash art for Briar in League of Legends.
Click to enlarge

Briar was designed from the ground up to fill a role the team felt League of Legends was missing. She’s a female jungler with a more light-hearted and comedic tone, despite her bursts of violence, which contrasts the more evil vibes coming from other female junglers like Elise and Evelynn. 

This, combined with her unique style of gameplay, certainly makes her stand out in the cast - which is a great achievement considering how many Champions the game has at this point. It’s awesome to see that the team can still create concepts that feel utterly unique within the game’s cast.

On paper, Briar is one of the more interesting designs in a while. Her lore is interesting, her overall design is creative and fun, and her healing mechanics mixed with Blood Frenzy could be an excellent concoction for players looking for something more unique. Her gameplay fits her vampiric theme well, and her gothic visuals are bound to appeal to some.

On the rift, Briar’s mechanics may not mesh with a wider player base. While her lighter visuals and tone are designed to appeal to more players than the femme fatale junglers before her, Briar’s gameplay could be too hands-off for the playmakers to truly gel with. We’ll have to see how players feel when we finally get our hands on, then off, this hungry jungler when she makes her debut.

For more League of Legends, keep reading GGRecon.

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