Riot Games is temporarily disabled League of Legends (opens in new tab) character Neeko after she unexpectedly developed the ability to transform into a massive tower that can kill enemy players in a single shot.
Neeko is actually a shapeshifter: Her character biography (opens in new tab) says she can “blend into any crowd by borrowing the looks of others, even recording some of their emotional state to tell friend from foe in an instant.” Her passive ability allows her to take the form of an allied champion: while disguised, she can use basic attacks, but will return to her natural form if she takes any damage.
That’s how it should work anyway. But a new bug was recently discovered that gave Neeko the ability to transform into a tower, specifically a Nexus Obelisk, a type of turret with the highest structural damage in the game. According to the LoL fan wiki (opens in new tab)they’re actually designed as a defensive killing machine: they’re positioned near spawn platforms to prevent enemy players from camping them out.
This clip, from League streamer Vandiril, shows the problem quite clearly:
And here it is from the other side of the coin: a player eating a one-shot kill from a transformed Neeko:
Still unsolved, huh? Thanks for this great experience @riotgames @Vandiril pic.twitter.com/4Hks3wWkKmNovember 22, 2022
As you might imagine, one character’s ability to transform into one of these one-time death fortresses, instantly and anywhere on the map, throws the game completely off balance. It’s basically the LoL equivalent of Anakin Skywalker’s big showdown with the younglings: there’s just no defense against it.
Therefore, Riot was forced to take down Neeko while it tries to fix what went wrong.
Some League players on Reddit were surprised this could happen at all, since Nexus Obelisks aren’t characters, they’re fixed turrets. “How is that even a possible bug?” Rumbleinthejungle8 (opens in new tab) early. “The code of the game has to be a real mess for that to happen. I think anything coded as a minion isn’t just a meme.”
That’s a reference to the fact that more than just minions are coded as “minions” in League of Legends. This one Reddit post from 2015 (opens in new tab) breaks it down in detail: just about everything in the game shares fundamental, underlying features, though their complexity varies widely.
“The phrase ‘everything is a minion’ is sort of true, but it’s more like something like ‘everything is an object’ than ‘everything is a job minion,'” RiotXypherous explains in the post. “Lane minions are actually quite complicated, as they have a model, animations, and an AI – something the standard minion object doesn’t have (depending on which one is used, I think they’re all idle cubes.)”
Some players have suggested that the problem could be as simple as a failed or incorrect entity type check, but the fact that Neeko has been disabled for more than 24 hours suggests that the problem is more serious than a simple script error. Of course, the timing isn’t ideal either: November 24 is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, a major holiday when most of the country’s businesses close their doors for a long weekend of food, drink and (I guess, I’m Canadian so I’m not super clear about the details of the ritual) football. So that’s another reason why repairing this Neeko Obelisk business may take a little longer than usual.
Anyway, the Neeko bug is yet another example of the challenges faced by live game developers, who deal with a steady stream of updates that constantly change character, world, and gameplay. It’s in the nature of the beast: Blizzard had to shut down in October Bastion and Torbjorn (opens in new tab) in Overwatch 2 due to similar underwhelming glitches in their ultimates, then shut down two weeks later May (opens in new tab) because she had become just a little more mobile than she intended. Riot was also forced to pull the plug on Valorant’s new hero Port (opens in new tab) just last week, because his ultimate had not gone well either.
There is currently no indication when Neeko will return to action. I’ve reached out to Riot for more information on that front and will update if I receive a response.