Zeri and Neon - Riot Games

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Riot Games Reveals How Filipino Culture Inspired the Designs for Zeri and Neon

Abhimannu Das
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Highlights
Riot Games revealed in its official blog how Filipino culture inspired Valorant and League of Legends' latest characters.
Both Zeri and Neon were inspired by the “Bayanihan Spirit” in Filipino culture.
Despite being similar, Neon is more reserved with her emotions while Zeri is more warm and caring.

Riot Games is no stranger to making unique characters. Despite releasing over a hundred champions in League of Legends, each one of them manages to retain a distinct personality and design elements. But some fans were quick to notice that League of Legends’ newest champions Zeri and Valorant’s newest agent Neon have quite a bit in common. It is because they were made in tandem by League and Valorant’s dev teams. In a recent blog post, Riot Games revealed how two of its newest characters were created as part of a collaboration between the Valorant and League dev teams.

Neon and Zeri were inspired by Filipino culture

League of Legends has multiple power sources for its characters. Some are literal gods while others get their power from magic. In Valorant’s universe, the characters are either Radiants or have access to advanced technology. Electricity is the source of Neon and Zeri’s power and it also serves as a nod to life in Manila, Philippines, which suffers from blackouts and electricity problems.

Neon - Valorant

Neon is the negative charge while Zeri is the positive. Neon is blunt and sarcastic, but she wants to do the right thing deep down. Zeri on the other hand is warm and caring, but she can be a little stubborn and impatient. Both characters were inspired by the “Bayanihan Spirit” in Filipino culture, but they react differently to the family values. Zeri embraces the love and support she receives from her family but Neon feels overwhelmed by it.

How the Valorant and League of Legends dev teams collaborated for their new releases

Valorant’s agent team lead John “MEMEMEMEME” Goscicki and League of Legends champions team lead Ryan “Reav3” Mireles wanted to co-launch a champion and an agent together. Both dev teams have worked in the past and share a lot of the development processes, and felt it would be cool if players could try out a character in both games.

Neon and Zeri

But it just wouldn’t make sense to have the exact same character in both games as the mechanics are vastly different across both games. Mireles said in an official blog post, “In League we have diversity goals in terms of role, region, gender, and playstyle. VALORANT has most of these as well—but they’re very different from what we do in League. So we needed to make sure we found a space that was good for both of our games, and was exciting for players.”

The team leads eventually decided to combine teams but it also came with its own challenges. Combining teams meant the devs needed to find common ground and create a character that works in both League of Legends and Valorant. The team found common ground in “speed” and that is how the theme of both the characters was born.

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Abhimannu is a part of the content team at AFK Gaming and a lifelong obsessive gamer. He currently covers esports titles like VALORANT, CS: GO, Call of Duty, Fortnite, PUBG and more.