Riven – A Review

Posted: September 19, 2011 by xenocidebrm in Champions

One commenter on this site said this (and I intentionally am taking it completely out of context): “This champion is as bland and uninteresting as generic Pop Rock.” This sums up what I feel about Riven. Now that she’s out, I can stop poking fun at her “style” (Jisho also notes that they changed her splash art to something less… derpy?) and instead poke fun at her worthless abilities.

EDIT: This article is now outdated, as Riven has been buffed in nearly all the ways I expected. See comments for the buffs.

Riven is an AD Melee Carry. Turns out she’s not the Tanky-DPS I was expecting with Rumble-like shield. In fact, she’s designed to be very squishy. Riot has duplicated the success of Talon, a squishy AD caster, and turned him into a crime against nature. See, while Talon is fun, rewarding, and uses interesting dynamics that reward skill, Riven is the opposite of that. She still does tons of damage, I’ll give her that much. But when she steps into lane or the jungle, you can’t help but giggle: she doesn’t have a spot on the team. Talon can take bot with grace, sticking with Alistar or Leona to do terrible, terrible damage. Riven can’t jungle, her sustain is laughable on top, she gets outharassed by anyone mid, and no one bot synergizes with her at all. Let’s give her a chance though. Her abilities can’t be that bad, right?

Broken Wings, Riven’s first ability, sends Riven forward a step, dealing damage in a decently ranged cone in front of her. This ability can be activated three times, with the third time knocking enemies up in the area and dealing damage in a larger area. Riven moves towards wherever she’s facing, unless your mouse is on top of an enemy when you activate it, in which case it will move towards that enemy. If you’ve played Nidalee, you’ll quickly remember that feeling of jumping forward at a slightly incorrect angle, leading to missed damage or your demise. It doesn’t have the range of Nidalee’s Pounce, so you can’t jump through walls, and it’s not quick enough to use as an escape move, so you can only really use this move on someone you’re already next to. It deals subpar base damage, but has a good 0.6 AD ratio. Mostly used for farming or harassing, this move can be ignored by anyone with range and a right click button but does a good job scaring people away for some reason. I think it has something to do with the manly yelling.

Her second ability, Ki Burst has a bit more kick to it, dealing more base damage than Broken Wings and giving a 0.5 second stun, maybe allowing you to get in range for Broken Wings. It also has a ridiculous 1 to 1 AD ratio, making her feel like a short range Sion with less damage. Still, while laning against a Riven, I couldn’t even notice the ability going off: the stun is so short and you have to be so close to use it you might as well just use it to flash in and steal kills like Garen. As you can see, it is also bland, doing nothing but AoE damage and stun, making it as unfun to use as it is to play against.

Valor sends Riven dashing towards your cursor, giving her a weak shield for a few seconds. If this had been similar to Shen’s dash, I would have been alright with it. Instead, it only really nudges Riven forward, similar to Broken Wings, and can’t really be used as an escape mechanism. The shield is similar to Lee Sin’s in the sense that it does virtually nothing until later levels, and again it scales with an impressive 1 to 1 AD ratio. While I do applaud Riot for finally making a support ability which scales off of AD, this ability is just terrible.

Blade of the Exile reforms Riven’s anime sword, giving her super-kawaii range and damage for a short time. She can also activate the ability again to fire off a double-scoop-Morde-cone of lame animation that deals damage to targets within, dealing more damage to targets with less HP. The first activation increases damage by a great 20% and decreases autoattack range to that of Twisted Fate’s. Depending on the HP of the target, the AD ratio on her second activation is anywhere from 0.6. to a whopping 1.8. When this is active you will kill people who don’t do more damage than you, and you will kill them quickly. Not really a fun ability to use or look at, but good nonetheless.

So her base values are crap, but her AD ratios are great, as is her Ultimate. Art aside, why is Riven bad? More specifically, what makes it so that these AD ratios don’t matter? Well, dear readers, the problem is this: she has no way to sustain or farm reliably. She can either farm or harass decently but can’t do both at the same time or for an extended period of time. Riven does horrible damage early game, all of which must be done in melee. Anyone with range can safely harass while anyone with melee can just straight up kill her. She can’t jungle. She can’t lane. She can’t even have good splash art. The only way she becomes useful is if someone feeds her and she stacks Doran’s Blades to maintain her momentum. Not exactly quality design.

So why did Riot make her in the first place? Simple: Dominion. While she is a lemon right now, the quicker pace of Dominion will make her extremely powerful. Riot has also promised her buffs, so it’s likely they’ll make her early game slightly less horrible than Morde’s current one. I personally don’t recommend this character yet: wait for Dominion to come out and then pick her up.

Comments
  1. TLE says:

    Thanks for the follow up! We’re going to have to agree to disagree on a lot of your points here. Riven’s jungle is pretty solid, and she’s found her niche with a lot of people there. Dyrus makes a pretty strong argument in her favor with his play ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83tzaqd1c58 ).

    Her Q’s a little unwieldy, but I’ve gotten used to it. Her W is a bit misleading because it has this weird cast animation that lasts basically as long as the (very short) stun it causes. You have to cancel out of it by right clicking somewhere (or something) to actually take advantage of it yourself. Its range and duration are fine in my opinion – it does what it needs to do; interrupt and disrupt. You won’t be stunlocking with it, but you’re not aiming to.

    Her shield actually feels pretty strong to me, but maybe that’s because I stack AD early (typically rushing a Brutalizer unless I’m against a really really rough matchup in the lane.) It lets me dash in, grab a last hit (easier, too, since I’m CSing with a passive stack), and get out with either no or very little HP lost to standard harass. I do need to brush hug with her, but then there aren’t many melee champs who don’t. I do wish they’d increase its range a bit, and let me go through thin walls with it like practically every other non-targetted built-in flash champion abilitiy. She really needs that to be able to chase like she’s supposed to.

    Like you mentioned, they’re looking in to tweaking her numbers so this is more likely a case of “still finding the sweet spot” than “working as intended, only intended to suck.” Even ignoring Dominion, she’s a fun champ with a neat kit that you can’t quite find elsewhere and an aesthetic that people either really hate or really like. I’m going to keep playing and enjoying her in Summoner’s Rift. Maybe you’ll give her another go when she gets her tweaks, but if not that’s fine – you can’t love every champ after all.

    One suggestion to anybody reading this though, give flat AD reds a try over your typical ArPen reds. They help her early game a lot and give her shield that extra oomph you might need. Flat armor yellows and flat MRes blues also seem to help her survivability – haven’t tried dodge yellows yet, but I’m usually more partial to guaranteed resistances than roll-to-not-suck.

    Ah yeah, and Morello’s post regarding her buffs can be found here ( http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=14502936#post14502936 ) in case you want to see exactly what was said.

  2. jisho23 says:

    I definitely think–even with the buffs–Riven will be held back by the fact that its very VERY easy to completely wiff with your abilities. Once people actually figure it out and take advantage of the silly amounts of damage she is capable of doing I think people may start attempting to find a team slot for her (another big problem).

    As far as the jungle is concerned… I’m not sure if she’s there right now because she’s a viable jungler (she’s an alright 1v1 but the question comes down to if she can beat Lee Sin or Udyr at countering) or because her laning thus far has proven extremely weak.

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