Nov 132012
 
Maokai, the Twisted Treant
Maokai, the Twisted Treant

Maokai, the Twisted Treant may constantly complain about his existence but, unlike the majority, has gladly joined the celebration of festivities with suitable attires. Regrettably, as far as regular outfits go he doesn’t have many available. Still, his helpful saplings know how to match his style, just as his skins’ review will aid in choosing a smashing look.

Charred Maokai
Charred Maokai Splash Art Charred Maokai Model
Category: Regular
Price: 975 RP
Concept: Maokai as a treant with burnt bark.
Model: New model for Maokai and his saplings.
Particles: No new particles.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: The background aims to show a huge fire in a forest and it succeeds, but up to a point. In the centre the fire burns wildly and its light is reflected on the nearby trees. However, the rest of the forest is mostly a suggestion: it could be simply a fire next to a few trees. Still, the effects of the fire are rather well displayed, especially on Maokai and the sapling. Their depiction is good but the contrast of light and shade obscures many details. Overall, it’s a good portrayal of Maokai yet note that the in-game skin doesn’t sport such intense and bright colours.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Charred Maokai aims for a darker look for Maokai that feels more like a re-colour than an actual new style. The bark of both Maokai and saplings looks burnt plus there’s a minor chain motif to go along the metal belt and open lamp. The models are actually completely different from the classic ones yet they don’t seem to be that different; colours aside. In general, Charred Maokai manages a darker, more sinister look that still resembles Classic Maokai but that stands on its own. Considering the price it becomes a product that is acceptable for what it asks.

Totemic Maokai
Totemic Maokai Splash Art Totemic Maokai Model
Category: Regular
Price: 520 RP
Concept: Maokai with a tribal paint theme.
Model: New model for Maokai and his saplings.
Particles: No new particles.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: A few wood totems are what make most of this green permeated background. To be precise, the green-centred colour palette in conjunction with the diffuse background make for a subdued and unexciting setting that just provides a frame. Maokai is well depicted with a distinct and attractive wood texture. Alas, the wood doesn’t stand out among all the green which makes Maokai look more subdued than he actually is. On the whole, a good depiction of Maokai that suffers from a lacklustre background and a lack of colour variety.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Totemic Maokai is actually more totemic in spirit rather than in actuality. The aspect does reference totems and employs colours and patterns to deliver the theme. Nevertheless, the design seems capricious with disconnected imagery. Truth be told, aside from Maokai’s head, left arm and the beaked saplings there isn’t much that attracts attention. On the whole, it isn’t a bad skin, as the aesthetic can be considered iconic. Regardless, the result isn’t particularly clear nor is it attractive.

Festive Maokai
Festive Maokai Splash Art Festive Maokai Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 975 RP
Concept: Maokai as a Christmas tree.
Model: Moderate model changes for Maokai and moderate model changes for his saplings.
Particles: New particles for Vengeful Maelstrom.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: The setting is that of a cottage drawn in a simple but appealing style. Multiple objects add depth to the setting: presents on the floor, Christmas decorations over the fireplace, a Snowmerdinger portrait on the wall and a hot snack along a letter over a table. Maokai looks good with a coarse but solid wood body and sapling. However, the decorations on him appear mute and hardly stand out. All things considered, it’s a nice splash art with good general quality. Unfortunately, the lack of contrast flattens all elements and prevents them from shining on their own.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Festive Maokai is a thorough disappointment that is good only as an idea. Maokai as a Christmas tree is definitely an interesting and suitable concept. Nonetheless, when the execution simply throws some decorations over the treant and calls it a day a problem is evident. A look at the model makes obvious that it’s essentially Classic Maokai crudely resembling a Christmas tree. To say that the result is lacklustre is an understatement as the skin feels like an afterthought rushed at the last minute somewhat patched up with a visual upgrade. From the half-boxed saplings on his hand to the dull star on his head the implementation is as dim as it is unimaginative; the visual upgrade only messes things up. In fact, the impression the skin gives is so bad that the particles added to Vengeful Maelstrom seem like an excuse. In conclusion, Festive Maokai is a bright idea extinguished by an execution that forgot what a quality product is supposed to be.

Haunted Maokai
Haunted Maokai Splash Art Haunted Maokai Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 975 RP
Concept: Maokai as a crude amalgamation of graveyard and tree.
Model: New model for Maokai and his saplings.
Particles: New particles for Arcane Smash, Twisted Advance and Vengeful Maelstorm.
Animations: New death and re-spawn animations.
Sounds: New sound for Arcane Smash.
Splash Art: The background shows some dark trees with empty branches and a few tombstones at the bottom. Yet for the most part there’s just a grey mist obscuring everything. To the right, Maokai readies a sapling while fragments come off his body; it’s as if he had rose as part of the graveyard he’s in. However, the tombstones on his back are barely visible, even less so easily noticeable. In general, he appears made of earth, bark and some bones so the graveyard look isn’t effectively conveyed. Still, the depiction isn’t bad: the bark looks good, the glowing eyes and maw illuminate Maokai’s face, the earth looks acceptable and the sapling seems like a little demonic tombstone. Overall, it isn’t a bad piece but neither background nor foreground are very clear about what they depict.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: As an animated graveyard Maokai has an interesting look: the combination of tombstones, bones and earth creates an abomination that is difficult to describe but quite eye-catching nonetheless. The refined model is backed by a complement of suitable gravestone particles. Special mention deserves his traditional helpers, the saplings, for their fanciful model and fantastic animations. The charismatic saplings are without doubt huge contributors to Haunted Maokai’s appeal. Moreover, his collapsing death and unearthing re-spawn help bring forth his living cemetery theme.
Unfortunately, the visual upgrade has made his particles mostly a re-colour of the classic ones. Before, they had a distinct and macabre style. Now, they are just another fuzzy effect that struggles to adapt to Maokai’s gloomy style. They are certainly the biggest disappointment of the skin.
All things considered, Haunted Maokai is a great skin due to an interesting concept, well chosen animations and a lot of sapling help. If you can ignore its clear flaws then it’s a skin that you can definitely enjoy.

Goalkeeper Maokai
Goalkeeper Maokai Splash Art Goalkeeper Maokai Model
Category: Regular
Price: 750 RP
Concept: Maokai as a goaltender.
Model: New model for Maokai and his saplings.
Particles: No new particles.
Animations: No new animations.
Sounds: No new sounds.
Splash Art: The splash art, shared by all of the new football skins, is a bit of a mess. The background is unnecessarily diffuse, as if the depth of field effect was a way of working less. It gives the idea of a pitch but looks blurry. The champions stand to the right as a sapling-football blurrily rolls on the right. Their portrayal has sharp colours but the proportions don’t convince: some champions seem too small and others too large. Besides, they don’t state anything else besides their presence. It’s as basic a depiction as possible and that makes the piece lack a meaning. In the end, it’s a splash art with no personality that impresses with its crisp colouring but when you look closer you find little.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Dressed up as a mix between football pitch and player Maokai’s look is evidently far-fetched yet charming. The football-saplings also add to the appeal with their unique personality which gives the skin a light-hearted feel. In spite of the presence of ample vegetation on Maokai’s abilities the style works well because he never hides his nature. However, that also limits the development of the concept. This makes the skin a simple costume but with a distinct style that manages to be more than merely funny. The result, while far from astounding, is a fine option for fans of football.

Meowkai
Meowkai Splash Art Meowkai Model
Category: Regular
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Maokai in a cat costume and saplings as cats with bell pom-poms.
Model: New model for Maokai and his saplings. New glow for his wool ball and new animated tail.
Particles: New particles for his abilities and auto-attack.
Animations: New taunt, joke, dance and recall animations. New sapling animations for emotes, standing idle, run, recall and Sapling Toss.
Sounds: New sounds for Arcane Smash, Twisted Advance, Sapling Toss, emotes and recall.
Splash Art: The fuzzy, pencil style of the splash art gives it an instantaneous identity but the composition doesn’t leave any doubts about what it is: a simple display of a few costumed champions. That’s confirmed by the absent background. There’s not setting to speak of, only a flash of light for the champions to emerge from and jump towards the viewer. As homage to cartoon openings it’s clear but brief and, ultimately, simplistic.
The champions manage to share the scene though, even if they can’t manage more than a pose for a photograph. Going by altitude: Tahm Kench looks diffuse and concealed by too bright light. There’s some faint shade to make the surfaces more interesting. Regardless, only the mouth with its detailed saliva and blunt, separated teeth stands out. The grabbing of a cat-sapling does little to make the portrayal interesting; it’s something at least.
Vel’Koz almost gets out of the picture and its tentacles are largely omitted by either a blur or going out of borders. The colours are bright for the most part and the use of light is attractive. However, the pattern of the pinstripe suit is too difficult to notice, the watch is on the right instead of the left tentacle and the trouser seems to be on the front-left tentacle while the back tentacle seems to wear a sleeve. It’s a complete mess that makes getting an idea of its look more difficult than it already is given the convoluted posture.
Maokai appears with a warm, fuzzy look for his costume while his bark looks dry and his features supernaturally powered by magical energy: an eloquent presentation. Cat-saplings fly all over leaving multicoloured trails and sparks but their flat faces lack vivacity for living beings. The effect of motion on Maokai’s foot is subtle but noticeable yet also pointless because there’s no perceivable reason for him to be smashing anything. The body, large and simple, appears a bit diffuse and lacking relevance while the pose appears to twist him in an uncomfortable position that can make his creepy face reveal a delight in pain.
Finally, there’s Draven with a pose that it’s as fanciful as it can be foolish. The huge mask shows reflections that hint at its artificial nature. Still, it could very well pass for a consequence of his inflated ego. The body is actually quite well shaded yet the proportions of the limbs aren’t believable: thick, stubby legs and short arms with big hands. The body also loses details towards the centre becoming flat, muscle-less and deformed by a forced posture.
When all is added together, we find a splash art with a simple background that is content with just introducing a set of champions. Available space is shared unevenly and there are portrayals that are clearly superior to others. The general idea of the champions’ look is given but seldom do the depictions add elements that make them memorable. In the end, it works but it doesn’t capitalise on its best characteristics.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: In essence, Meowkai is a whimsical skin with a concept that seems more concerned about making a pun explicit than doing something remarkable. The execution manages to tip the scales the other way round yet only a bit. The cat costume has an abundance of cat faces but isn’t really striking. Perhaps its most relevant characteristic is the careful adaptation to Maokai’s inhuman physique. Conversely, the saplings fully transform into cute cats. The bell dangling from their heads like a pom-pom may bring moogles to mind or position them closer to toys but their appeal is undeniable. They forgo any monstrosity in the name of presenting the theme at their best and, as in other skins, stand as the high point.
The particles, like the sounds, are a mixed affair. There’s a clear superimposition of new assets over classic ones and the combination seldom works well. When the new starry style works in full, like Sapling Toss, the skin reveals its potential appeal. When it reuses assets, like Twisted Advance, it seems like verification of why Maokai’s model insists on keeping so much of his vegetal being on display. The problem is that the combination doesn’t work. While it never becomes grotesque the cute and monster ideas are too dissimilar and the gap is never bridged effectively. The new recall is an example of how a new animation can fully embrace the cat theme and make it all the more appealing. That feels to be the right direction for the changes.
In the end, Mewokai feels uneven and a sour taste is left. The main issue may be in the concept: that of a costumed instead of a transformed Maokai. The combination adds nothing to the skin and only the cat theme actually stands out. The classic remnants dilute the skin’s appeal and simply don’t work when combined with the new additions. Due to the numerous issues, an incomplete adaptation and a lack of special features the skin doesn’t suit its high price of 1350 RP. At 975 RP it could be a flawed skin with some notable changes. As it is, it’s better left only for those that appreciate the peculiar mix the skin offers.

Conclusion

Maokai has quite a few styles to choose from but almost half of them are seasonal options and most of the rest are his release skins. In spite of the fact that you can only get it during Harrowing, Haunted Maokai’s is good enough to deserve being recommended. With numerous and appealing changes, it’s a skin that takes a suitable theme and presents it with an attractive array of changes. So far, it’s the Twisted Treant’s best option.

A similarly complex yet more expensive option is Meowkai. With a concept and implementation that seem forced on the treant, instead of transforming, his nature it’s a skin that might only appeal to those that appreciate this peculiar combination. In too many areas the skin strikes as uneven with assets remaining from its classic incarnation that don’t mix well with the cute cat theme. Considering its issues, lack of special additions and high price it’s a skin for a specific audience.

While there are skins available all year round they aren’t actually very impressive. From what’s always available for the Twisted Treant, Totemic Maokai is the better choice as it’s a distinct re-model for a low price. Conversely, Charred Maokai can feel like a re-colour for a high price; which makes his release skin selection quite peculiar.

The only remaining options are Goalkeeper Maokai, which is wholly dedicated to football fans, and Festive Maokai, dedicated to Christmas. The former’s costume has its charm but if this sport isn’t to your liking then the skin has nothing else to offer. The latter is a mediocre attempt at turning a treant into a Christmas tree so, even if there’s a bit of it, the price is too high for a failed attempt.

On the whole, Maokai skins aren’t really great so unless better options are released the Twisted Treant won’t have many regular choices.

  42 Responses to “League of Legends: Maokai Skins’ Review”

  1. interesting reveiw i would like to see nautilus too and maybe kassadin if possible

  2. I’ve been playing a few rounds with haunted maokai and i noticed some things you missed. his twisted advanced has changed, when you go into twisted advance its blue instead of green and the roots turned to a darker brown and the leafs look dead. and i think his minions voices changed as well.

  3. Can you update this with Maokai’s Goalkeeper skin? I really love the saplings and general idea of it so I’d like to see if it’s worth it.

    • Seems like it’s an okay skin for 750 RP if you like the the funny angle. We’ll try to review it as soon as possible.

  4. Hi Zero, just wanted to tell u that Haunted Maokai also have a new standing idle animation!

    • We just checked it and couldn’t notice any differences. Could you be more specific? Thanks.

      • i saw the Haunted Maokai new standing idle animation in lolking.com the other ones don’t have it!

        • We can only find one that is exclusive to Haunted Maokai. The other three idle animations are present in the classic skin. We’ll check in-game to see if it’s actually used.

  5. Hey Zero, just wondering, the new champion Azir is almost out, so can you do a skin review since his model already is on Lolking and his splash art (Classic and Galactic) is on the League of Legends wiki

    • We prefer to wait until he’s released as there can be some last minute changes. Besides, it’s better to work having all aspects of the skin confirmed; price included. Once it’s made available we’ll surely have a review in a short amount of time.

  6. In the Haunted Maokai skin, I am pretty certain that the particles for his Twisted Advance ability are recolored. The particle which he transforms into and moves onto a target is bluish instead of the classic’s pale purplish particle.

    • Indeed, that was a recent change that we were made aware of by another comment but forgot to update. Thanks for the reminder we’ll make the necessary changes.

  7. While looking through videos of Haunted Maokai while trying to decide if I should buy it or not, I that the sound for his Arcane Smash isn’t the same as in the classic. For comparison I took a look at the skin spotlight for his most up-to-date skin, Goalkeeper Maokai, and noticed that this sound is missing in that skin as well as the Charred and Totemic skins. I believe it should be cl assified as a new sound. I not completely sure but I think there is also a new sound for Vengeful Maelstorm, nothing I noticed for his other abilities.

    Also, I noticed that it doesn’t say that Twisted Advance has new particles anymore on the Haunted skin? I thought you updated it after my earlier comment.

    • That’s good hearing, there is a little difference between the sounds of Arcane Smash in his Haunted and Classic incarnations. It’s subtle but noticeable though the sounds of the battlefield don’t let it shine. We’ll add it to the review, thanks.
      We also listened carefully but didn’t notice any difference for Vengeful Maelstrom.

      We did update it because we saw the difference but, recently, as we were checking Headless Hecarim in-game we also gave another look to Haunted Maokai and found out that his Twisted Advance is back to his classic self. Maybe the previous change was unintended, a missing texture as it happened before, but currently Haunted Maokai’s Twisted Advance is the same as his classic self’s.

  8. Will you review the skins for the Maokai VU on the site? What are your first impressions and what do you think is the best one?

    • We have taken a look at the new Maokai and the classic treant seems too light green. That aside, the skins have been polished yet they still suffer from the same problems they used to. The visual upgrade diminishes them but they are still there. So far, we don’t see a huge improvement despite the evident technical work. If things continue as they are then Haunted will remain his best option despite the legacy condition.

      • I want a skin for Maokai though, and I’m not really prepared to wait ’till next year’s harrowing. Which non-legacy skin would be the best after the VU?

        • Perhaps Totemic, because even though the darker style of Charred stands out the implementation doesn’t really justify the price. We would still recommend not to buy a skin simply because it’s the best currently available. New skins are bound to be made and Haunted is more interesting. Therefore, what might seem like a good idea in the short term may not be so in the long term.

          Also, take into consideration the fact that the visual upgrade would change Classic Maokai and so he would feel a bit different. At least for a while, it shouldn’t seem like the same old treant we all know.

          • Can you please review the new VU Version of Maokai!

          • The thing is that the skins’ reviews are up to date but we haven’t been able to change the images to show the new looks. That’s why we don’t consider them really complete; like Singed’s.

            We are looking at ways of getting good images for the skins. The main problem is that Riot doesn’t give good snapshots of a champion’s skins after a visual upgrade as they once did. So, as we don’t own every skin in the game, we have to wait for a model viewer to be updated or keep the old images.

  9. Can you review the Maokai skins again since he got a visual upgrade?

    • We have actually updated his review as well as Singed’s. The problem is that we haven’t been able to update the model images as we don’t own all skins and model viewers seem to be struggling to cope with the new model format. Therefore, we prefered to update what we could but without making an announcement as the reviews aren’t, technically, completely up to date.

      So far, we’ve only been able to fully update Haunted Maokai as the other skins are still in need of new images. As soon as we are able to get new screenshots we’ll update the images. However, you can be sure that the text will be updated pretty soon after a visual upgrade even if the images aren’t. We usually leave a message in our Twitter account to explain this kind of unfortunate situations.

      Sorry for the inconveniences this causes.

  10. Can you update the review’s based on the 2014 VU that Maokai got? I would appreciate that! 🙂

    • Actually, the reviews are up to date. However, we weren’t able to update the images as skin viewers seem to have trouble accessing new models. The same happened with Singed. When we are able to get new images we’ll update them but the text reflects the current state of Maokai skins.

  11. I do think Festive Maokai needs some more love in this thread.It is a nice concept plus all my friends who play LoL think this is the best Maokai skin.Will you give it a second thought?Or are you sure it is only worth 2 out of 5 stars?

    • If we are talking about the concept we agree: Maokai as a Christmas tree is a clever idea. The problem is that the skin consists of a few model changes and new particles for his ultimate that are nothing remarkable. Had the skin a lower price it could be a passable alternative but that’s not the case.

      The problem is that we are talking about a legacy skin tied to an event. So, not only isn’t it always available but it also can’t go on sale. At 975 RP there’s much more that a skin can offer. Take into consideration Haunted Maokai for instance. Even with its flaws it still does a lot more than Festive.

      As we said in the review, Festive Maokai has a nice concept but the execution is a letdown.

  12. The Conclusion section still mentions Charred Maokai as being a re-texture, while in the actual review for the skin you specifically mention that the model is new (though still similar to classic). Speaking of which, when I look closely at Festive Maokai’s model and compare it to classic Maokai’s model, it seems like the changes are more than minor. The shape of his face, for example, is completely different, and the color of the bark is more of an Acacia wood color. There is also the complete lack of moss present in the classic skin, and overall the bark seems smoother. That, combined with the scarf, belt, loincloth and “leaves”, I think this skin passes as moderate model changes in the least. A last though I’d like to give about it is how the visual upgrade changed the ultimate’s effects to actually look nice, no longer looking like a bad excuse. That is my opinion at least.

    • Thanks for the corrections. You’re right, Festive Maokai could be considered to have moderate changes even if that doesn’t change things. The fully particle effects used for his ultimate has been a mixed blessing: it does look more refined but they all look very similar as well. Perhaps they should have left some classic effects or, at least, make them look clearly different to each other with different colours as well as designs.

      • On that topic, I would like to add a suggestion to say something about Festive Maokai in the Conclusion section, since you already said something about his other legacy skin, Haunted Maokai, in that section. I actually got Festive Maokai in a mystery gift some time ago, and despite your crude thoughts on the skin, I consider myself lucky to have gotten it instead of any of the others, aside from Haunted which is obviously his best one. I am certainly not a fan of football, the totemic and tribal style of Totemic Maokai doesn’t appeal to me much, and Charred is far too similar to classic, though I still like it, but I think it deserves a maximum price of 750 RP.

        • Most skins have some redeeming qualities, except when they sink to one single star, so there is something to like in Festive Maokai. The problem is that there isn’t much to like as the difference with Classic Maokai isn’t that huge.

          A lower price could help the skin though it would remain a failed product. We may add a line about Festive Maokai, it’s only fair to warn people about what they are getting into. It’s okay to like something flawed but one should be conscious of it.

  13. What are your first thoughts on Meowkai?

    • Perhaps Meowkai should’ve gone all the way with the cat theme. The cat saplings are great but the costumed Maokai doesn’t work that well because of the classic remains. For its price, we don’t think the skin is doing enough and sufficiently well to impress.

      • I totally agree, it just seems awkward to see a tree in a cat costume to be honest. I still want to buy it since well, my name is Purr. Maybe I will just get the icon

        • Yes, it seems like the skin stops just shy of embracing the best aspect of the theme. This is a case were the classic angle should’ve given way to the new theme in full. At the very least, the integration should’ve been more smooth; though the high part of the skin is certianly the feline angle.

  14. When do you think you’ll be doing a review for Meowkai? I cannot wait for that skin.

  15. In the Meowkai review, you missed mentioning his new taunt animation (NOT stomping the adorable Kittyling) and possibly some new animations for the Kittyling itself.

  16. do you have one for irelia?

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